Birds of a Feather

As soon as he sees the boardwalk, my four-year-old son Benjamin Byrd—“Byrdie” for short—takes off at a sprint, binoculars jiggling around his neck, while his sister Ana waddles behind him as fast as her two-year-old legs will carry her. “An ibis!” he shouts, already on the observation deck, having climbed a few fence rungs to take in the panoramic view of the pond. Meanwhile, I scan the water’s surface, trying to see an ibis among the hundreds of waterfowl. Finally, there it is: the glossy wader with the unmistakable downward-curved bill.Like many children on the autism spectrum, Byrdie is inclined toward highly specific interests. And ever since he pulled down an unused Birds of Texas guide from the bookshelf and asked me and my wife Laura to read it as a bedtime story, birds have been his greatest passion. By the time he was two-and-a-half, he could already identify 300 species, leading our family on an unexpected birding odyssey that has taken us from our home in the Rio Grande Valley to the north woods of Wisconsin. Of all of the places we’ve visited, though, our favorite family birding destination is still right here: Estero Llano Grande State Park. Keep reading at Texas Highways.

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