Spring in South Texas: Apr 03—12, 2014

Register NowTour Details

Price: $3,295
Departs: Corpus Christi, TX
Ends: Laredo, TX
Tour Limit: 14
Operations Manager: Greg Lopez
Download Itinerary: PDF (102.6 KB)

Route Map

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Tour Leaders

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Barry Zimmer

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


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Rafael Galvez

Rafael Galvez has been birding and illustrating birds since childhood, a dual passion that d...


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Register for this Tour

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 250 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, and majestic Whooping Cranes. 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, and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers by the dozens! 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), Ringed and Green kingfishers, Green Parakeet, Red-crowned Parrot, Great Kiskadee, Couch’s Kingbird, Green Jay, Clay-colored Thrush, Long-billed Thrasher, 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.

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 thousands, 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; mild to warm climate.