Monday, January 13, 2014


By Juan Montoya
As winter moves in and you drive around the area, you cannot help but notice all the out-of-state license plates on the streets of Brownsville and across the Rio Grande Valley.
Yes sir. It's the annual arrival of the Snowbirds gaining force. When these geriatric motorists share the roads with the daredevils from Mata and the interior of Mexico here for their holiday shopping, and then you throw in the occasional  transmigrante caravans on their way to Central America through Progreso, it makes for a volatile road mix.
The paisas from across are driven to shop, and shop quickly. The transmigrantes want to get across the river the other way, get fleeced as little as possible by the aduanales and cartels  in Tamaulipas, and then head for the continent's slender midsection to unload their goods for a profit.
The Snowbirds, on the other hand, have done everything they were going to do in their previous lives and are in no great hurry to get anywhere fast. They're here. To them, every day is a good time for a Sunday drive, lolly gagging and checking out the real estate as caffeine-fueled Mexicans veer around them trying to make it to the next yellow traffic light. Be that as it may, the Snowbirds have become a part of our local economy and we welcome them.
By contrast, the multicultured panhandlers at the intersections of the freeway frontage road have also increased and have carved out their territory with their hand-written signs asking for help and "God bless."
Bird watching has become a bonanza for the local ecotourism industry. With that in mind, we came up with a few sightings of our northern (and a couple of southern) friends.

Sighting: A Michigan tight-clawed Bargain Catcher. Often sighted in flocks at local Mexican restaurants around the 99-cent and $1.99 breakfast special.
Sighting: An Iowa White-Breasted Skinflint. This species is often seen looking for specials on citrus fruit and vegetable roadside stands during harvest season.
Sighting: An Indiana Greenback Warbler. This species will often try to haggle with anyone selling any service locally thinking that they can get a special price even if they're at a Wal-Mart. Its mournful cry can be heard every time they have to pull out a dollar.
Sighting: Canadian Arctic Cheapfishers. This species often flocks to the Tuesday and Thursday all-you-can-eat buffets in town. Prefer Chinese seafood delicacies, but have also been seen occasionally at the local Capt. Bob's buffets until the Cap raised the prices and had to shoo a few out the door for sharing buffets on the sly.
Sighting: Minnesota White-Cheeked Tightwads. An extremely rare species which often prefers to bear the northern winters than spend on the gasoline to make the southern flyway. Have been reported seen sleeping in their cars on local beaches to avoid paying for lodging. Will on occasion battle overpass dwellers for space under interstates and freeways.
Sighting: Great Mississippi Lowland Pennypinchers. This rare species has increased in numbers as news of the low cost of living has reached the depressed Southern Deltas. Never used to have much food supplies in their native habitats, they readily take to the local food chain and consume native fare with a flourish. Their distinctive chatter can be heard Saturdays at local flea markets.
Sighting: Multi-colored Peso Tortillero. As their habitat in Northern Mexico becomes increasingly uninhabitable, these refuges from violence-wracked Tamaulipas have been seen in increasing numbers. Predominantly traveling in flocks, these birds are usually seen in large groups around upper-scale commercial sites such as malls, fine stores, and shopping districts. Other sightings have been made in places as far away as Houston, San Antonio and South Padre Island.
Sighting:  The Common Monterrey TacaƱo Regio. More prevalent than the Tortillero, this bird is a common sight to residents and birders of the Rio Grande Valley. Seasonally seen at South Padre Island, they are often confused with Springbreak dodos from the north. However, their distinctive calls from south of the border distinguish them from their northern cousins.
Late Sighting Ontario Hoarding Booby. Known to exploit the free pasta lunch for Winter Texans at South Padre Island's Padre RitaVille Restaurant without the slightest hint of grace to sit and eat and actually order a drink. Oh no, they slink back to their vehicle with uncovered paper plates brimming with free food, and try to leave before being spotted by any Snowbird acquaintance waiting in line. These bad birds are related to pesky, thieving seagull (who are referred to as: "rats with wings"; these boobies are called: "rats with wheels"). Also known to rinse and reuse the paper plates.
Seen any other birds lately?


Joaquin said...

I disagree that it's the snow birds that "lolly gagg." I go to Brownville at all times of the year and everyone goes at least 5 miles under the damn speed limit. You're terrified of Johnny Law as if they were going to beat you if they caught you speeding. It's a ticket. Speed the hell up or get the hell out of the way.

Anonymous said...

Where I see them is at church. They walk in there wearing shorts and a t-shirt. While it's in the 40s outside. Plus, you can tell they're freezing their asses off.

Anonymous said...

(Speed the hell up or get the hell out of the way.)

Whoa! You gotta be my twin.

Anonymous said...

Last year I had a Winter Texas tell me the money this group brought was the backbone of our economy and without them, we would dry up and blow away.

I told him that would not happen as drugs were the backbone of our economy and not a bunch of Gringo geezers.

Anonymous said...

" told him that would not happen as drugs were the backbone of our economy and not a bunch of Gringo geezers."

They assume that the fact that they are old and frail is going to keep them from getting their asses kicked. NOT!