Sabal Palm Audubon Center and Sanctuary

Brownsville, Texas

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Beauty, biological significance, and birds —all combine to make this National Audubon Society preserve on the Rio Grande near Brownsville one of the must-visit destinations in the Valley. At its heart is a thirty-two-acre grove of native sabal palm trees, the most important remnant of an ecosystem that once stretched 80 miles upstream along the Rio Grande. So conspicuous was this tree that early Spanish explorers called the river Rio de las Palmas, or “river of palms.” But in the intervening centuries, the species that inspired that name (Texas’s only large native palm) has nearly been extirpated north of the Mexican border by agricultural and urban development as well as changes in the river’s natural flooding cycle. Palm forest occupies only a small part of the sanctuary's 527 acres, but staff members and volunteers work continually to remove exotic species (the area was once a commercial nursery) and encourage native flora. Present habitats include old fields, native scrub, and regrowing forest as well as the centerpiece, the mature tract of sabal palm and Texas ebony.
Exploring the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Exploring the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail

by Mel White (Falcon Guides)

Beauty, biological significance, and birds —all combine to make this National Audubon Society preserve on the Rio Grande near Brownsville one of the must-visit destinations in the Valley. At its heart is a thirty-two-acre grove of native sabal palm trees, the most important remnant of an ecosystem that once stretched 80 miles upstream along the Rio Grande. So conspicuous was this tree that early Spanish explorers called the river Rio de las Palmas, or “river of palms.” But in the intervening centuries, the species that inspired that name (Texas’s only large native palm) has nearly been extirpated north of the Mexican border by agricultural and urban development as well as changes in the river’s natural flooding cycle.

Palm forest occupies only a small part of the sanctuary's 527 acres, but staff members and volunteers work continually to remove exotic species (the area was once a commercial nursery) and encourage native flora. Present habitats include old fields, native scrub, and regrowing forest as well as the centerpiece, the mature tract of sabal palm and Texas ebony.

©  Mel White/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Birding
Nearby City: Brownsville
Trail Type: Several options
Best Times: Year-round; best in spring, winter also good
Driving Directions: Directions to Sabal Palm Audubon Center and Sanctuary

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May 2018