Join us on April 1st for FREE admission at all of Houston Audubon’s High Island sanctuaries. This is no April Fool’s joke! We’re inviting the community out to explore our sanctuaries and immerse yourselves in nature. Walk the treetop Kathrine G. McGovern Canopy Walkway at Smith Oaks for a bird’s-eye view of the bustling Rookery full of nesting excitement. Visit the drip by Purkey’s Pond in Boy Scout Woods to be captured by the colorful migratory warblers stopping for a drink or a bath. Join us for a Rookery Talk at 11 AM with Houston Audubon’s Conservation Director, chat with our friendly and knowledgeable volunteers about birds and wildlife, and hike our scenic trails to connect with nature. We will be selling patches and merchandise, but your daily admission is on us. Hope to see you in High Island this spring!
Boy Scout Woods: 2088 5th St, High Island, TX 77623
Smith Oaks Bird Sanctuary: 2205 Old Mexico Road, High Island, TX 77623
About High Island
Houston Audubon owns and manages four nature sanctuaries at High Island – Boy Scout Woods, Smith Oaks, Eubanks Woods, and S.E. Gast Red Bay – totaling over 250 acres. Our High Island sanctuaries are a haven for birds and visitors, especially during spring migration! We welcome visitors from all 50 states and over 20 countries who flock to the Upper Texas Coast for the best birdwatching. Our sanctuaries are critical habitat for migrating birds and there have been nearly 400 species documented on our properties, including several species never before seen in the United States. Peak spring bird migration is from mid-March to mid-May.
The community of High Island sits atop a hill surrounded by miles of marsh. This rare real estate has been important for humans and wildlife for thousands of years. While no archaeological site has been excavated on the island, shell middens, pieces of black pottery, and arrow points dating from as far back as 1200 A.D. have been found on Bolivar Peninsula and around Galveston Bay. The area including High Island was undoubtedly inhabited by Native American hunter-gatherers who roamed the region collecting shellfish and hunting the abundant wildlife.
Stories passed down suggest the pirate Jean Lafitte and crew sometimes had parties and even buried treasure in the oak groves in the early 1800s. One of the early settlers of High Island was Martin Dunman, who arrived in 1845. He received a league of land (three square miles) that included part of High Island for his role in the Texas Revolution. Reportedly, there was at least one house on High Island when Dunman arrived with his family. The house was built by Charles Cronea, one of Lafitte’s cabin boys. A historical marker, erected in Cronea’s honor, can be found in the High Island cemetery.