High Island Migration Apr 19—25, 2018

Posted by Erik Bruhnke


Erik Bruhnke

Erik Bruhnke has loved birds since he was a child looking at chickadees. In 2008 he graduated from Northland College in Wisconsin with a Natural Resources degree. Erik taug...

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A visit to the upper Texas coast in springtime is a must-do experience for all birders. The intensity of colorful bird migration throughout this region is a breathtaking spectacle. Due to numerous cooperative weather fronts that took place throughout our tour, every day was brimming with vibrant memories of SO MANY BIRDS and beyond. It was like a perfect storm of migration for our eyes and ears to behold!

Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager— Photo: Erik Bruhnke


After a pre-sunrise breakfast on our first day, we headed towards the pineywoods in search of Red-cockaded Woodpecker and Brown-headed Nuthatch. Due to overzealous historic logging practices, this woodpecker species has been extirpated from much of its historic range and is currently considered near-threatened. As we were initially searching for this woodpecker, a family of Brown-headed Nuthatches made themselves known. 

The Brown-headed Nuthatch is a cute nuthatch species of the southeastern and east coast pine forests. Its squeaky chatter is unmistakable, and its chocolate-brown head is lovely. They chattered up and down ancient longleaf pine trunks as Pine Warblers and Pine Siskins called nearby. After a little bit of searching, a Red-cockaded Woodpecker made its presence known. Delicate little calls came closer and closer as the bird veered around the sides of sap-laden tree trunks. Scope views were locked on, and our breath was taken away by this male. Moments later, a female Red-cockaded Woodpecker flew in. What a sight it was to see a pair of them together! We savored the moment, knowing how special this species is, as it is in serious decline. Eastern Towhees and Chipping Sparrows chatted throughout the forest floor not far from us.

Read Erik’s full report in his Field Report.