High Island, Texas: An Introductory Birding Tour: Apr 13—17, 2007

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Departs: Houston, TX
Tour Limit: 14
Download Itinerary: PDF (78.9 KB)

Route Map


Tour Leaders


Brennan Mulrooney

Brennan Mulrooney was born and raised in San Diego, California. Growing up, his heart and mi...

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Great Egrets, High Island

Great Egrets, High Island— Photo: Brennan Mulrooney

An action-packed introduction to one of the most storied spectacles of spring songbird migration in North America, plus an amazing diversity of shorebirds and marsh birds.

High Island, Texas, has become known as one of the premier sites in the world to observe spring bird migration. Every spring millions of birds journey north from the American Tropics to the forests of eastern North America. Many fly over the Gulf of Mexico and, if they encounter a north wind or rain, may put down by the thousands in the isolated groves of live oaks at High Island. Surrounded by hundreds of square miles of coastal marsh and prairie, these tiny woodlands offer much-needed food and shelter to the exhausted migrants. A number of these groves have been preserved as sanctuaries and are open to birders. Every day at High Island is an exciting one, especially in April when migration reaches its crescendo. You may see 10 Scarlet Tanagers in one mulberry tree, 50 Indigo Buntings feeding on the ground, or several species of warblers, thrushes, and vireos bathing in one small pond. Join us for some of the world’s most exciting birding.

This short tour is designed to provide an introduction to the rich avifauna of the Upper Texas Coast. Each day’s activities will depend on the weather, and our schedule will be flexible. If fallout conditions occur, we will bird High Island and other migrant traps. If the weather is good, with a south wind, we will concentrate on the rice fields for shorebirds, the extensive marshes for wading birds, and the great Bolivar Flats for coastal shorebirds, terns, and wading birds.

We will visit Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, famous among birders as a good place to observe such notoriously secretive marsh-dwellers as Least and American bitterns, King Rail, Purple Gallinule, and Sora. Fulvous Whistling-Duck, White-faced Ibis, and occasionally Glossy Ibis are also seen at Anahuac. When rice fields are flooded for cultivation in April, migrating shorebirds may swarm to them. Sometimes thousands of shorebirds in glorious spring plumage are present, including such scarce species as American Golden-Plover, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Upland Sandpiper, and Stilt Sandpiper. A visit to a nearby bayou takes us to the breeding grounds of Prothonotary and Yellow-throated warblers and Northern Parula.

On this Introductory Tour, we will give special attention to instruction about birds, birding, migration, or other topics. In the field, we will take plenty of time to discuss a variety of aspects of birding, including bird identification, getting the most out of your optics, habitats, etc. If possible, we will schedule time for a short break at the hotel each day.

Good accommodations; all nights at one location; mostly easy walking on trails, roadsides, boardwalks, and beaches; midday breaks some days; warm, sometimes humid conditions.