Nature Hot Spots
How far (Pharr) do you need to go to see colorful butterflies and
record breaking bird rarities?
Not too far. Or should the “buzz” be, “Yes, to Pharr Texas ”. Even though the City of Pharr reaches the southern most tip of North America, it is never too far for anyone to travel to experience nature at its most unique and preserved moment. And if you are one of the millions of birders nationally which has inherited a quest to identify and record as many “lifers” to your bird list, a trip to Pharr may well be worth it!
The City of Pharr is located in Hidalgo County which in turn is part of three other counties that make up what is more commonly known as The Lower Rio Grande Valley. And even though our valley is actually a delta plain, with a gradual slope towards the Gulf Coast, the latter name is more identifiable among visitors and locals alike. Geographically speaking, this land area is a birder’s destination for it is through this area that the Central and Mississippi Flyways for the migration of birds funnel their way through on their North and South destinations. The end result is that out of the 800 plus bird species recorded in the United States, 500 have been recorded in the Rio Grande Valley, and the city of Pharr is making headlines nationally and perhaps even world wide, with these recent rare and first bird sightings in the last three years.
With Pharr hosting a few of the nations record breaking bird sights including the nations first confirmed sight of a Black-headed Nightingale Thrush as well as, a Blue Mockingbird and Slate-throated Red Star, it is not out of the ordinary for a Mr. Birder in Wisconsin, or Indiana, or even as far as Alaska to coordinate a week long trip to our beautiful city in the hopes of catching a glimpse of these and other specialty birds whose destination does not take them any further North than right here.
Williams Wildscapes’ main emphasis is to create and/or preserve native habitat. At one time the city of Pharr was not all restaurants and hotels; prior to falling to the consequences of urban, industrial and commercial development, Pharr was aggregated with Mesquite, Granjeno and other native trees and plants that were home to a diverse flora and fauna. For this reason, Williams Wildscapes is an educational experience of Pharr’s surrounding existing community and an interpretation of the importance of conserving what is left of the 5% of native habitat in the valley.
Williams Wildscapes is by appointment only and Allen himself offers information and consultation for estimates, design plans, pond installations and maintenance of backyard habitats. If you are a visitor to Pharr or a resident of the community who would like to share a unique nature moment, call Allen Williams at (956) 460-9864 for visitation arrangements and driving directions.
Shadyland in Pharr
Mr. Juan Garza is proud of the 6 acres in South Pharr that has been in his family for the past 41 years. For the last 25 years, the former orange grove has grown into an impressive wildlife are with Hackberry woods, Brasil, Texas Persimmon and many more native trees and shrubs. Because of his desire to leave his 6 acres of land undisturbed and with very little developmental interruptions, Mr. Garza has acquired by preservation a wildlife corridor for bobcats, indigo snakes, amphibians and a wide array of local and specialty birds and butterflies. This area definitely proves to be one of the last remaining fragments of wildlife habitat in the city of Pharr. Mr. Garza has christen his 6 acres as “ShadyLand” because of the overhead canopy of trees which easily drops temperatures about 2 to 4 degrees.
Mr. Garza’s “Shadyland” is not currently open to the public, although he is investigating different avenues as to what to do with it; one thing he does know and envisions is that the area never be developed. He wants the entire area to be available to tourists and locals and plans to enhance the area by adding water features, butterfly gardens and walking trails. Landowners, ranchers and farmers around the valley can model Pharr’s example of partnering with State, municipal, private and non-profit entities to create and restore native habitat and create sustainable economic opportunities based on nature tourism.