Spring in South Texas: Apr 01—10, 2012

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Price: $3,115
Departs: Corpus Christi, TX
Ends: Laredo, TX
Tour Limit: 14
Operations Manager: Greg Lopez
Download Itinerary: PDF (104.7 KB)

Route Map


Tour Leaders


Barry Zimmer

Barry Zimmer has been birding since the age of eight. His main areas of expertise lie in Nor...


Kevin Zimmer

Kevin Zimmer has authored three books and numerous papers dealing with field identification ...

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Register for this tour by phone (800/328-VENT or 512/328-5221), or by downloading a tour registration form. Signed and completed forms can be faxed, mailed, or scanned and emailed to the VENT office.

An equally impressive field of paintbrush and other wildflowers was near Sarita.

Paintbrush and other wildflowers near Sarita.— Photo: Barry Zimmer


Experience the best of the Lone Star State with migrants and Whooping Cranes along the coast, a King Ranch visit, Rio Grande Valley specialties, and a Hill Country Extension with birds, bats, and wildflower displays!

Nowhere else in the United States can the pulse and excitement of spring migration be felt more keenly than in South Texas! Birds funneling up from the Tropics to their summer breeding grounds pass through coastal South Texas in numbers and varieties that stagger the imagination. Boiling kettles of Broad-winged Hawks, on occasion numbering into the tens of thousands, nearly darken the sky as the first thermals rise. Ethereal flocks of hundreds of American White Pelicans swirl effortlessly into the clouds on massive nine-foot wingspans. Several dozen Swainson’s Hawks patrol a freshly plowed field in search of prey. Shorebirds, up to 30 species, cover the coastal estuaries and flooded fields. More than 40% of the breeding species of North America pass through this area in April, resulting in trip lists that usually exceed 240 species! In addition, early April also marks the peak of wildflower season in Texas with fields and roadsides blanketed with bluebonnets, phlox, paintbrush, and Gaillardia.

VIDEO: Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl at King Ranch during VENT’s 2014 Spring in South Texas tour, digiscoped through a Leica Televid by Rafael Galvez

At Estero-Llano Grande State Park, the always raucous Plain Chachalacas put on a vocal display in the early morning.

Plain Chachalaca— Photo: Barry Zimmer

Along the coast near Rockport we will target specialties such as Reddish Egret, Roseate Spoonbills, majestic Whooping Cranes, up to 30 species of shorebirds, and eight species of terns. Under certain weather conditions, this area can host sizable fallouts of migrant land birds as well, though this is a more common sight further up the coast. From Rockport we will head south through the famous King Ranch in search of the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl and Tropical Parula. In addition, we will likely find White-tailed Hawk, Crested Caracara, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers by the dozens, and possibly Audubon’s Oriole! The Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, with its numerous refuges, state parks, and birding centers, harbors most of the Valley specialties including Plain Chachalaca, Hook-billed Kite (declining; no loner annual), White-tipped Dove, Common Pauraque, Ringed and Green kingfishers, Aplomado Falcon, Green Parakeet, Red-crowned Parrot, Great Kiskadee, Couch’s Kingbird, Green Jay, Clay-colored Thrush, Long-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow, and Altamira Oriole. Many accidentals have appeared over the years here as well. In the vicinity of Falcon Dam, we will seek out Red-billed Pigeon and Audubon’s Oriole, and look for the tiny White-collared Seedeater along the banks of the Rio Grande.

The tour will conclude with an extension in the Texas Hill Country where our main targets will be the skulking Black-capped Vireo and the stunning Golden-cheeked Warbler. Displaying Vermilion Flycatchers, Cave Swallows by the hundreds, and a bat flight that must be seen to be believed round out the itinerary.

Good accommodations; easy to moderate terrain; short hikes combined with roadside birding; one half-day boat trip; mild to warm climate.