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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Texas: The Edwards Plateau and Big Bend

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space.    The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING THE UNITED STATES:  Non-U.S. citizens will need a valid passport and may need a tourist visa.  Consult your nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate for details. 

Canadian citizens should carry proof of citizenship in the form of a passport or birth certificate.  Please note that non-US citizens are required by law to carry passports/visas with them at all times.  We suggest you carry these documents with you in your day-pack or some place that is easily accessible (not locked in your luggage).  Because of proximity to the US-Mexico border, US Border Patrol checkpoints will be encountered on the roads and foreign nationals will be required to produce passports. 

Resident non U.S. Citizens are required by law to have and show a green card at these check points; a failure to do so could result in a significant delay.  

PACE OF THE TOUR:  With the exception of the Boot Spring and Blue Creek Canyon hikes, we do not schedule anything even faintly strenuous at these altitudes. This tour does have several days with long drives and there are evening activities on a few of the days, making these days longer and most likely not concluding until later in the evening.

The hike to Boot Spring (in Big Bend National Park) for the Colima Warbler is lengthy (about 9.5 miles round trip) and steep (about a 2000’ climb) but the trail is excellent and we’ll allow plenty of time and go slowly.  It may be possible to see the Colima Warbler without making the whole hike to Boot Spring.  Participants with heart, back, hip, knee or ankle problems may elect to take a much shorter hike or to spend the day around the lodge; choosing the shorter option (or electing to take your own hike) may mean having to return to the lodge without the leader. 

The Blue Creek hike for Lucifer Hummingbird, Gray Vireo and Varied Bunting is 4.6 miles round trip at an elevation of 4000 ft.  It’s mostly level but some of it is on soft sand. 

 In the Davis Mountains where we also schedule some hiking, the longest walk will be about two miles round trip. 

HEALTH:  Texas presents no real hazards to the visiting birdwatcher. 

Spiny Plants:  The most common tour injuries result from spines penetrating the soles of running shoes.  Many desert plants are armed with thorns or spines and we recommend leather or sturdy canvas boots of at least ankle height as the best safeguard. 

Altitude:  Much of our birding in west Texas is above 4000 feet. We reach 6500 feet on our climb for the Colima Warbler. Anyone with a circulatory or respiratory problem should consult their doctor. 

Sun and Dehydration:  April sun can be intense.  A broad-brimmed hat, proper clothing and strong sun screen lotion are essential. It’s a good idea to have a water bottle with you at all times. 

Insects:  Texas does have mosquitoes and ticks, though there are fewer mosquitoes in central and west Texas. 

Fire ants are widely distributed (sparse in West and Central Texas) and thoroughly noxious.  The leaders will identify the ants at first encounter and remind you frequently to watch where you stand. 

Smoking:  Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail. 

Miscellaneous:  We actively look for rattlesnakes and feel very lucky to see one per trip.  These fascinating reptiles are generally not a hazard but one always needs to use common sense when dealing with potentially dangerous wild creatures.  Scorpions are mostly nocturnal and rarely seen, and the tarantulas occasionally seen on the highway are not dangerous. 

CLIMATE:  Late April and early May temperatures can range from the low 30s - 40s F at night in the Davis Mountains to over 100° F in the lower elevations at Big Bend National Park. Rain is possible in the Hill Country but is unlikely at Big Bend. 

ACCOMMODATIONS:  We will be staying in comfortable motels and lodges. Our motels and lodges have WiFi. 

FOOD:  Most tour meals will be taken in area restaurants (one or two fast-food lunches), with field picnic lunches on most days.  At Big Bend and in the Davis Mountains, we have picnic breakfasts in our rooms as the dining room at the Lodge doesn’t open until 7 AM.   All meals are included in the tour price and, no refunds can be issued for any missed tour meals.  

Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions. 

TRANSPORTATION:  We will be traveling by 12 or 15 passenger window van or minivan, depending on the group size.  Participants should be able and willing to ride in any seat in tour vehicles.

Updated: 12 July 2017