Sunday, March 25, 2018
Text Size

20180104 Sunshine RV Bird Butterfly MILLER IMG 7872Vicky Heggen was peering through her binoculars across the large pond at Sunshine RV Park in Harlingen, looking at birds and trying to identify them, when something caught her attention.

The nearby black-bellied whistling ducks started fleeing from the banks to the water, fear obviously the motivating factor. Suddenly a hawk came screeching from across the pond and sunk its talons into one of the ducks. A short struggle occurred and the hawk finally realized that this meal weighed a little too much to carry home and flew away, claws empty.

“It was like something you would see on National Geographic or one of those other nature shows,” Heggen said. “I was feeling bad for the duck but that’s how nature works.”

Residents of the park can spend more intricate time with more wildlife and native vegetation now at Sunshine RV Park as Heggen and the park’s Butterfly-Bird Native Garden takes shape. A group of 13 residents are part of the Butterfly-Bird group that created the park, which sits along the banks of the pond, with an interest in attracting more wildlife – from ducks and turtles to hawks and butterflies.

20180104 Sunshine RV Bird Butterfly MILLER IMG 7865“A few of us got together and we all have native gardens back home,” said Heggen, a Farmington, Minn. native who has lived at Sunshine for five years. “We went and visited some native plant nurseries in Harlingen and came back and went to talk to the park manager to see if it was ok to put in a native garden and here we are.”

The garden itself includes native plants such as the milkweed, the shrimp plant, Turks cap, mist flower and fiddlewood. A monarch caterpillar was seen crawling along the underside of the native milkweed during an overcast day last week. Dozens of the black-bellied whistling ducks enjoyed the day, jumping in the air and snapping at each other as if they were fighting over the territory. The hawk was nothing more than a distant memory – even though Heggen said she has seen the same Coopers hawk hiding inside a tree that holds a few bird feeders, just waiting for the right prey to fly by.

Currently there are two benches on the grounds. Heggen said the club is raising money with an upcoming soup and supper Jan. 16 and other events to add to the garden, whether it be more benches or native flowers. She said they also want to add some native trees to the grounds.

20180104 Sunshine RV Bird Butterfly MILLER IMG 7919“We want to bring in the native plants that attract more birds and butterflies and bees,” Heggen said. “We want to expand the garden and whatever money we end up with we will work with the local native nurseries to do that.”

The garden is small right now but the return on the investment has been great. There’s a Rosetta spoonbill that sits on the opposite side of the pond, and in the trees are a variety of birds. Heggen said they want to attract more warblers and songbirds because “they just sound really nice,” she said.

Other wildlife seen at the pond and garden include turtles, snowy egrets, an Eastern screech owl, the Great kiskadee, the black-crowned nighthawk and even a 4-foot indigo snake. “People are cautious about the indigo snake,” said Heggen of the non-venomous reptile. “They have seen it and say what a beautiful snake it is. They are a good snake to have around if you can have a good snake.”

The Eastern indigo snake, known in South Texas as the blue indigo, is North America’s largest non-venomous snake. These snakes can grow up to 9 feet and their diet consists of, among other things, rattlesnakes.

The garden has seen a variety of butterflies, especially during migration time when they come like birds from the north and head south to escape winter. Among the butterflies seen include the queen and soldier butterflies, which are part of the monarch family.

Heggen said it was critical that the group used native plants in the garden because in the summer if nobody is there to water them, they can still survive better than non-native plants.

20180104 Sunshine RV Bird Butterfly MILLER IMG 7925“We just want to create a natural area so people can just go and enjoy the outdoors and maybe try to identify the different plants, insects, birds and butterflies,” Heggen said. “People come out here with their coffee and just enjoy nature in the mornings. I come out in the mornings with my coffee and sometimes in the afternoon as well – just without the coffee.”

Top News

  • Winter Texans join in Monarch Butterfly Festival

    Pamela Drew handed 6-year-old Sienna Randall at spray bottle and explained to her what to do with the paper butterfly she had just designed.

    “Go ahead and spray it sweetie,” she said at the Butterfly Craft Station. “Then we can get another color.”

    Drew was one of dozens of volunteers helping out at the annual McAllen… Read More +

  • Texas Onion Fest features top entertainment

    20180322 Texas Onion Festival Preview MILLER DPP 0013

    Dancing horses will be part of the full-day’s lineup of entertainment at this year’s Onion Fest celebration in Weslaco. The festival will be held Saturday, March 24, at Mayor Pablo City Park. Gates open at 9:30 a.m. and entertainment begins at 10 a.m.

    Read More +

  • Share the fun!

    Wow has time flown by this Winter Texan season!

    Now that it is coming to a close, we here at the Winter Texans Times would love for you to share with us – and all our readers – what this season was like for you in the Rio Grande Valley.

    What was your favorite event? Did… Read More +

  • Thanks for coming!

    FromthepublisherAs we near the end of another winter season, it’s time to say farewell to many of you who will be leaving the Rio Grande Valley and heading north in the next week or two.

    We want to take a moment to just say, “Thank you” for choosing the Rio Grande Valley as your… Read More +

  • UTRGV WT Survey prize winners announced

    As promised, two lucky Winter Texans who participated in this year’s Winter Texan Survey conducted by the Business and Tourism Research Center at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley have been selected as the prize winners for this year’s drawing.

    The winner of the Kindle Fire, provided courtesy of UTRGV, is Helen Willis of Tip-O-Texas RV Resort in Pharr. Dennis Bloomingdale,… Read More +

  • Yum! Take the Mozna Chocolate Factory tour

    20180312 Chocolate Factory Tour Red hats GU 2878

    Red Hat Queens sample finished chocolate flavors
    After the presentation, members of the Red Hat Queen’s Council got to sample the different flavors of chocolate made from the beans that come from Mexico, Venezuela, Vietnam and Tanzania.

    Read More +

  • Southern Comfort RV Park hosts Bocce tournaments

    20180315 Southern Comfort Bocce JPGWESLACO—The sport of bocce ball isn't going away anytime soon. In fact, the trend that's happening at the Encore RV resorts across the Rio Grande Valley might lay claim to the opposite.

    Southern Comfort RV Park, located at 1501 S Airport Dr. in Weslaco, has been running… Read More +

  • Nature photos displayed at Port Isabel Library

    Laguna Art League member Pat McGrath Avery will be displaying her photography at the Port Isabel Library throughout the month of March.

    Avery, an author and photographer, focuses on nature photography, especially the beautiful birds that live in or visit the Rio Grande Valley. In the 1970s, she brought her parents down for the winter and fell in love with the Texas… Read More +

  • Winter Texan Ambassadors Wanted

    FromthepublisherThis edition of the Winter Texan Times is our “Take Home Edition.” We invite all our Winter Texan readers to take extra copies of this edition with you when you head north so you can share them with your friends and family.

    Getting out and doing all the fun and interesting things… Read More +

  • Nature lovers from across the U.S. flock to the Rio Grande

    20180315 Estero Llano Grande Casey Balvert MOERING 0362One of the major attractions drawing visitors to the Rio Grande Valley is its varieties of birds and butterflies. The migration path of many of the flyers runs right through the Valley and that draws people not just from the U.S. but from many other countries in the world.

    Read More +

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • All
  • Border
  • Charity
  • Free Health Care
  • Groceries
  • Grocery Stores
  • HEB
  • Immigration
  • Mission
  • Operation Lonestar
  • Ribbon Cutting
  • Safety
  • Security
  • Sharyland
  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
load more hold SHIFT key to load all load all