The Visitors center for the sanctuary is currently located in a renovated Queen Anne style mansion. This house was build by Frank Rabb in 1892 on his 20,000 acre plantation. Originally the house was in view of the Rio Grande River, where steam boats could be seen during their waning era as the principal boats on the river. In later years, a hurricane changed the course of the river once again, leaving only a resaca (a bend of river cut off from the new flow), close to the house.
Frank Rabb was an important figure in bringing wide spread irrigation systems to this area. The docent at the sanctuary showed us a picture of the house with cultivated fields right up to the house. However, for some reason, Mr. Rabb conserved a 200 acre stand of Sabal Palm trees. In 1917 Rabb offered this 200 acres to the government for conservation, but it took until 1971 for the Audubon Society to acquire the 30 acre plot of old growth Sabal Palms, which are the only palm tree native to Texas.
Kathy Whittier, the group organizer, explaining how to tell a Sabal Palm from other palm trees. The central stem causes the palm to form a V shape. Hard to explain without a picture (which I did not think to take).
A little whimsy back at the visitors center. This bird feeder is made from old yard sale pieces of glassware. Good idea.
Our next stop on this junket was at the Brownsville Land Fill! Yes, that's right, the dump. Birders will go anywhere if there is some rare bird to be seen. There have been reports of a Chihuahuan raven and the Tamaulipas crow flying there.
Another entertaining day in Texas!