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How to Participate in the Texas Christmas Bird Count on the Upper Texas Coast

How to Participate in the Texas Christmas Bird Count on the Upper Texas Coast

The Upper Texas Coast is a treasure trove for birders, so dust off your binoculars, grab your favorite birding gear, and don’t forget your field guide and download that favorite app. Then, it’s time to participate in the Texas Christmas Bird Count (CBC). We’ll note the locations below in the Christmas Bird Count, which is from Dec. 14 through Jan. 5. It’s fun to introduce future generations to birding and the importance of conservation. Plus, it’s free to participate. 

The purpose of the CBC is to provide population data for use in science, especially conservation. Incredibly, it’s the longest-running citizen science survey in the world, and you can volunteer. 

Let’s get started in Jefferson County at Sea Rim State Park. Although the Park isn’t part of CBC, it offers 5.2 miles of Gulf shore and 4,000 acres of marshlands. The Texas Parks and Wildlife website includes a Birds Checklist for Winter. You’ll likely see an American White Pelican and Snow Goose. The park checklist lists abundant, common, uncommon, occasional, and rare birds seen at the park. 

Another stop for your list is McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge. This park is hugely popular for wildlife photography, open daily, and free. Check the US Fish & Wildlife Service website for updates on the park. Another park we must mention is the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. The park provides a bird checklist in the visitors’ center (open on weekends) and at the office during regular business hours. The staff recommends Woodlot Trail and Willows Trail for this time of year which is attractive to migrating birds for their water drip. Birders have identified 244 species of birds on Woodlot Trail. 

As we make our way to Galveston County, Galveston’s West End is part of the Texas CBC. Houston Audubon recommends Dos Vacas Muertas Sanctuary. This 6-acre sanctuary contains a pond, a small marsh, coastal grassland, and a woodlot of live oaks. Audubon has added a water drip in front of two benches to attract migrating birds. 

????CBC, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, CBC Compiler: Kyle O’Haver,

If you are interested in volunteering for the Christmas Bird Count in an area that’s typically a top 20 or near top 20 for the count, then connect with the Galveston Circle group for December 20, which encompasses San Luis Pass to Texas City. You’ll be dispatched to join a group in the area.  

????CBC, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022, CBC Compiler: Lalise and Greg Mason, or call Greg at 713.725.4562.

In Brazoria County, the Brazoria-Columbia Bottomlands is part of the annual count on New Year’s Eve. According to Houston Audubon, the area includes several US Fish & Wildlife tracts, large reservoirs, small ponds, parks, and neighborhoods. Sites include Bar-X Ranch, Columbia Lakes, Hudson Woods, Eagle Nest Lake, Brazoria and Harris Reservoir, Nash Prairie, and Brazos Woods Preserve inside Brazoria County.  

????CBC, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022, CBC Compiler: Martin Hagne,

Sponsored by the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory

In Freeport, the Christmas Bird Count is December 18. This circle is divided into eight areas with a unique habitat and a designated leader. The count is consistently one of the top ten in the country and identifies the largest number of species on the Upper Texas Coast. This circle’s habitat includes a seashore, barrier islands, prairie, and woodland.  

????CBC, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, CBC Compiler: Mike Austin,

Matagorda County is looking for skilled birders to participate in the Christmas Bird Count on December 19. Most of the count is on private land and participating in the CBC is the only way to access these areas. Skilled birders will scan over the Gulf from land while others will ride boats to survey mudflats and marshes of the delta of the Colorado River. 

????CBC, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022, CBC Compiler: Brent Ortego, or 361-827-4691 

Fun Facts: 

???? Frank Chapman and 26 other conservationists initiated the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) to promote conservation by counting, rather than hunting, birds on Christmas Day of 1900. 

???? CBC now happens in over 20 countries in the western hemisphere.

???? Birders of all skill sets are involved in the CBC. If you are a beginning birder, your compiler will pair you with an expert.   

???? To participate in the CBC, you must join an existing CBC circle by contacting the compiler before the count day.

For more ideas on exploring the Upper Texas Coast, click Things to Do and search by category.  

Lone Star Coastal Alliance is committed to promoting nature and heritage tourism and outdoor recreation opportunities in Jefferson, Galveston, Brazoria, and Matagorda Counties. 

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