Great Texas Wildlife Trails

Las Palomas Loop

Las Palomas Loop map

Las Palomas Loop mapLas Palomas WMA/Resaca de la PalmaLas Palomas WMA - Ebony UnitCannon RoadLas Palomas WMA - Anacua UnitEl ZacatalTxDOT Relampago Rest Stop

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More information:

  • San Benito Chamber of Commerce
    Phone: (956) 399-5321

048.gif LTC 048 Las Palomas WMA - Resaca de la Palma

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only. World Birding Center site.

Continuing west, Boca Chica Blvd. becomes US 281, known locally as the Military Highway. Drive west approximately 4.5 miles on US 281 to the River Bend Subdivision. The unmarked dirt road across from the River Bend office is the entrance road for Resaca de la Palma. Access to this site is open, except during hunting season. Plans are to include this property as part of the Brownsville WBC. Information about access may be obtained by calling TPWD at (956) 447-2704. This tract contains mature woodlands as productive as any in the Valley.

Many Valley birding locations are works in progress, and a number of sites are just now being opened to the general public. It is also important to recognize that 95% of the native habitat in the Valley has been altered. In recent years, efforts to restore habitats have been underway, and the Valley will only become more productive as these efforts progress and mature. The Valley is recovering, and future generations will enjoy the fruits of our labor.

049.gif LTC 049 Las Palomas WMA - Ebony Unit

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only.

Continue west on US 281 to FM 1479. Go north 2.7 miles on FM 1479 to an unmarked gravel road—go east to Las Palomas WMA-Ebony Unit. An observation platform adjacent to the resaca dominates this site and offers an excellent vantage point for studying the waterbirds that crowd these waters. Look for Least Grebe, several species of ducks including Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, and flycatchers such as Couch’s Kingbird and Great Kiskadee on snags that border the shore. Walk along the resaca and enjoy the variety of dragonflies and damselflies.

Las Palomas WMA units were purchased with funds from hunters. The Ebony Unit continues to be hunted, so call TPWD at (956) 447-2704 or check the public information booth for access during hunting seasons.

Vieh’s B&B is located on FM 675 (0.6 mile north on FM 1479) a short distance from the Ebony Unit. Vieh’s offers birding in a 15-acre palm forest, and on a nature trail that borders a 10-acre lake. In addition, the Viehs conduct regular trips into northern Mexico. Contact Charlie and Lana Vieh at (956) 425-4651,, or visit their website:

050.gif LTC 050 Cannon Road

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only.

Return to FM 1479, then go south to US 281. Go west on US 281 to Cannon Rd. (marked by a cannon). Travel north on Cannon Rd. (dirt and caliche for most of its distance). USFWS tracts border Cannon Rd. for much of its length—many Valley specialties may be seen along this drive. Toward the end of Cannon Rd. you will reach a power transfer station where Tropical Kingbirds and Altamira Orioles have nested. Be sure to listen for the Tropical Kingbird’s characteristic high-pitched trill, as the virtually identical Couch’s Kingbirds are here, too.

Tropical Kingbirds have become established in the Valley within the past decade. As they expand their presence, it becomes increasingly difficult to identify specific sites where they may be found. Pintail Lake at Santa Ana NWR (LTC 059), and several sites in Brownsville have been especially consistent spots to find this rare species. Simply listen to all Tropical/Couch’s kingbirds, and become familiar with the calls and songs of both. Occasionally, nest sites are mentioned in the Valley’s Rare Bird Alert tape (956) 969-2731.

Continue past the power station to where the road ends at a levee and a large reservoir. This reservoir, in season, supports large numbers of puddle ducks, American White Pelicans, and both whistling-ducks.

051.gifLTC 051 Las Palomas WMA - Anacua Unit

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations, Winter

Site open for day use only.

Return to US 281, and continue west about 4 miles toward Santa Maria and a gravel road that leads to the Las Palomas WMA-Anacua Unit. Go south on the gravel road to the Anacua Unit. This unit is in varying stages of re-vegetation, offering a variety of habitats. Look for buntings and sparrows along the edges of the thickets, and Green Jay, Olive Sparrow, Long-billed Thrasher, and White-tipped, Common Ground, Inca, and White-winged doves in the densest woodlands.

Do not disturb the large resident colony of White-winged Doves by wandering off the trails and into the brush during the summer nesting season. In addition, the Anacua Unit is periodically closed during hunting season, so contact TPWD at (956) 447-2704 for information about access during the fall and early winter. As with many of the sites along the Rio Grande, exercise caution when venturing along the River. There are numerous spots along the Rio Grande that are active smuggler’s crossings, so always be alert when straying from well-visited public sites. Lock your car and keep valuables out of sight whenever you are on the GTCBT.

052.gif LTC 052 El Zacatal

Suggested Seasons to visit: All wet seasons

Site open for day use only.

Return to US 281, and continue west approximately 0.7 mile to El Zacatal. El Zacatal is comprised of a series of resacas that are visible from US 281. These lakes are dependent upon wet season rains, so during long periods of drought they eventually become dry. When wet, look for Common Moorhen, Purple Gallinule, Least Grebe, and a variety of waterfowl in these resacas. Kingfishers are often found perched on snags, and migrant shorebirds feed along the exposed shore as the water levels drop during late spring.

053.gif LTC 053 TxDOT Relampago Rest Stop

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations, Winter

Site open for day use only.

Continue west on US 281 to the TxDOT Relampago Rest Stop. This small rest stop contains a stand of impressively large mesquite trees that often attract spring and fall migrants. The thickets bordering the rest stop offer a chance to see Olive Sparrow, Long-billed Thrasher, and Green Jay.

When most birders visit the Valley, they limit their trip to a few well-known spots such as Santa Ana NWR (LTC 059) and Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park (LTC 069). However, birds are not restricted by the habits of birders. They are limited only by the available habitats. These small remnants of Tamaulipan brush and riverine woodland may attract the next new species to wander to the U.S. Continue west on US 281 to FM 1015.

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