SPI birding center celebrates 9th year

Fall migration is picking up and birding is about to hit its peak in the Rio Grande Valley.

But another fall date is being celebrated at the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, and that is the popular facility’s ninth anniversary on Saturday, Sept. 29.

Entry fees to the center will be waived that day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“It’s a great day, it’s an open house,” said Javi Gonzalez, naturalist-educator at the center. “We’ll have some cake and refreshments, while they last. We’ll also have some guided bird walks and I’m going to be doing iNaturalist 101 to help our visitors learn how to use iNaturalist and submit observations.”

iNaturalist is the free phone app where a user can upload a photo and have experts from around the world help identify the species of animal, bird or plant.

The birding at the SPI center is beginning to reach its fall climax, and Gonzalez said late September is always a good time to spot some rare bird species on the Island.

“Right now migration is picking up and we’re getting into the peak of fall migration,” Gonzalez said.

The heavy rains and tropical disturbance that floated inland from the gulf last weekend dropped a lot of species of birds on the Island as they sought a resting spot, Gonzalez said.

“We saw 20 different kinds of warblers — Swainson’s warbler, black-throated gray warbler, Canada warbler, Blackburnian warbler, and we saw tons of flycatchers of all types, some Baltimore orioles,” Gonzalez said.

“Some other warblers were prothonotary warblers — that one was a stunner, a super-bright male — black-and-white warblers, Kentucky warblers and some red-eyed vireos,” he added.

Gonzalez will lead free bird walks for the anniversary celebration at both 9 a.m. and at 10:30 a.m. The center’s unique blend of saltwater and freshwater marsh habitats means numerous bird species are drawn to the site.

“The next couple of weeks should be good,” Gonzalez added.

If You Go

WHAT — Ninth anniversary celebration, bird walk, refreshments and cake

WHERE — South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, 6801 Padre Blvd.

WHEN — Sept. 29, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

COST — Entry fee to center waived

Aggies’ deal Saturday

Wear your Texas A&M T-shirt or hat and receive half-off admission at the SPI Birding and Nature Center on Saturday, Sept. 22