Monday, November 18, 2019
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King Ranch is fabled for its role in settling Texas and introducing the Santa Gertrudis breed of cattle. In more recent years, its expansive ranchlands of South Texas have become a famed Texas treasure because of the abundance and variety of native wildlife making their home on the ranch.

King Ranch Nature Tours and other King Ranch tours now provide the opportunity for visitors to see a rich variety of wildlife as well as a historic working cattle ranch. Today the ranch is often referred to as “the last great habitat” because of its diverse South Texas landscape.

It is home to a wide variety of birds and animals known to live in South Texas. Mammals include the larger white-tailed deer and a number of smaller animals. Birds include quail, wild turkey, ferruginous pygmy-owls, and 360 other species of birds that make their home in or migrate through South Texas. King Ranch is reported to have more ferruginous pygmy-owls than any other location in the U.S.

Those who wish to see South Texas wildlife may want to opt for the Wildlife half-day tour (three-and-a-half hours). They can expect to see White Tail Deer, javelinas, bobcats, wild turkey, American Alligator and other mammals, birds and reptiles. The tours are offered Tuesday through Friday and every other Saturday from 2:30 to 6 p.m. Cost for one person is $140, while a group of four to eight can go for $35 per person.

On the second Friday of each month, Nighttime Spotlighting Tours are given. Tours start at the King Ranch Visitor Center at 7 p.m. This tour will also be offered Nov. 20-21 in conjunction with the King Ranch Hand Festival. The cost is $100 for one person and a group of four to eight costs $25 each.

New this year is the Big Buck Bonanza Tour for those interested in spotting the larger animals with for hooves and antlers. This tour will be offered Nov. 28, Dec. 5, and Jan. 9, 23, and 30, from to 6 p.m. The tour cost is $140 for one person but drops to $35 for groups of four to eight.

Bird-watchers will not want to miss the half-day birding tours that take place through March 12 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 7:30 a.m., with the exception of Dec. 24 and Jan. 2. The tour includes wetlands and grasslands, so a diversity of birds can be spotted. Look for the Least Grebe, White-tailed Hawk, Crested Caracara, Vermillion Flycatcher, Great Chickadee, Green Jay, Olive Sparrow and others. The habitat for the ferruginous pygmy-owls is not included on this tour. The cost ranges from $160 for one person to $45 for groups from four to eight.

Another popular option for birders is the Full Day Birding Tour to the northernmost part of King Ranch. In addition to the birds listed above, look for Burrowing Owls and Sprague’s Pipit. This tour includes a lunch and drinks. It will be offered most Tuesdays and Fridays at 7:30 a.m., through Mar. 11. The cost for one person is $300, while a group of five to eight can go for $115 each.

The Norias Birding Tour of nine hours will be offered beginning March 16 through early June. The tour departs at 6 a.m. For one person the tour is $450 while a group of five to eight participants can go for $140 per person.

A Deluxe Norias Birding Tour that includes an overnight stay on the ranch will be offered April 14-15 and April 28-29 at a cost of $375 per person with a minimum of four.

A three-day Norias Adventure will be offered April 5-7, April 19-21 and May 4-6 at a cost of $775 per person, double occupancy, minimum of four. This tour includes three divisions of the ranch with a variety of birds.

Custom tours for birds, butterflies, dragonflies, native plants and general wildlife can be arranged.

Reservations and binoculars are recommended for all tours. Call the King Ranch Visitor Center at (361) 592-8055, email , or go online to for more information.

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