Join Naturalist Journeys for this exciting spring migration tour. The Upper Texas Coast has long been recognized as one of the best places to be during spring migration. Each year, 25+ species of warblers pass through the area's coastal woodlands, as well as many species of vireos, thrushes, flycatchers, and other passerines. Although the presence of songbirds is strongly weather related, other birds are numerous and more predictable. 36 species of shorebirds, including plovers, terns, most of the country's herons and egrets, pelicans, Black Skimmers, and several species of gulls.
During the first part of the tour, we investigate the Big Thicket northeast of Houston. There we see southeastern specialties like Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Bachman's Sparrow, Fish Crow, and Brown-headed Nuthatch.
Several nesting warblers may be on territory, including Prothonotary, Hooded, Kentucky, Pine, and, hopefully, Swainson's. The Big Thicket area is also known for its diversity of dragonflies and damselflies (about 100 species) and butterflies (up to seven species of swallowtails in a single spot!), and we won't ignore these as they appear. For the balance of the time, we alternate between the coastal woodlands at High Island, other nearby migrant hotspots such as Sabine Pass, and the surrounding rice fields, beaches, and wetlands around Galveston Bay.
Our schedule on this Texas birding tour is somewhat weather-dependent: North winds, rain, or cold fronts put down migrating birds and we search for them in woodlands behind the Gulf's shores. If rice fields are flooded, we stand a good chance of seeing shorebirds like American Golden-Plovers, Stilts, Semipalmated and Buff-breasted Sandpipers, and Hudsonian Godwit, as well as Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, and both White-faced and Glossy Ibises. Along the coast, we look for Roseate Spoonbill, Reddish Egret, American Oystercatcher, and the endangered Piping Plover. In the process, we have a chance to study a variety of rails, shorebirds, terns, and other waterbirds.
- Feel the pulse of migration at preserves created by the Houston Audubon Society; your visit supports protected habitat for thousands of migrants
- Listen to the cacophony of hundreds of breeding herons at Smith Oaks Rookery
- Study a smorgasbord of migrant shorebirds with an expert at Bolivar Flats Shorebird Preserve
- Watch or photograph stunning species like Roseate Spoonbill and Scarlet Tanager
- See as many as 25 species of warblers in bright, breeding plumage
- Enjoy secretive rails, bitterns, and myriad other species at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
- Bird pine country for southeastern specialties like Red-cockaded Woodpecker and Bachman’s Sparrow
Photo credits: Banners: Blackburnian Warbler by Tom Dove; Great Egret Rookery, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Roseate Spoonbills by Betty Andres; Birding Pine Forest, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Yellow-throated Warbler by Carlos Sanchez; Indian Paintbrush, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Forest Birding by Tony Beck; Indigo Bunting by Tony Beck; Snowy Egret and White Ibis by Betty Andres; Green Heron by Betty Andres; American Alligator by Rob Colyer; Prothonotary Warbler by Doug Pratt.