Top Spots for Birding during Spring Migration on Upper Texas Coast
Did you know the Upper Texas Coast is one of the best places to be during Spring Migration?
The Upper Texas Coast offers the best spots for birding during Spring Migration and birding festivals for avid and novice birders. We encourage you to grab your favorite birding gear, clean your binoculars, pack your field guide and download that favorite app. Spring migration begins in March and is in full swing from April to early May. Plus, in this region, you’ll see history along the way.
Let’s get started in Jefferson County at Cattail Marsh Wetlands and Boardwalk. Cattail offers 900 acres of wetlands with a variety of recreational activities made easier with its new boardwalk offering close viewing of wildlife and its eight miles of gravel-level roads ideal for hiking, jogging, biking, horseback riding, bird watching, and wildlife photography along the banks of Hildebrandt Bayou and Willow Marsh Bayou.
Next on your list should be Sea Rim State Park. The Park offers 5.2 miles of Gulf shore and 4,000 acres of marshlands. The Texas Parks and Wildlife website includes a Birds Checklist for the Spring. 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 popular for wildlife photography, is open daily, and is free. Check the US Fish & Wildlife Service website for updates on the park. Another park to add to your list 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.
You’ll also want to include Sabine Woods in Port Arthur on your list. This chenier ridge or oak mott attracts thousands of migrant birds. Texas Ornithological Social owns the sanctuary and the Golden Triangle Audubon Society maintains it. There’s also a new birding site overlooking a pond on the former Palms at Pleasure Island Golf Course.
In Galveston County, on Galveston’s West End stop at the Oppenheimer Birding Observatory. In partnership with Artist Boat, the Gulf Coast Design Lab at The University of Texas at Austin designed this project. It overlooks the Coastal Heritage Preserve and is a public pull-off birding access along Stewart Road. The northern wall is composed of horizontal 2×4 panels to hide visitors from the birds while still allowing them to use binoculars and other equipment.
While in Galveston County, you’ll want to start or finish off on Bolivar Peninsula for the Horseshoe Marsh Bird Sanctuary and Frenchtown Road. While there’s no public access, you can make observations from Hwy 187 and Loop 88. Check with Houston Audubon for updates on the trail. Houston Audubon operates several sanctuaries in High Island, including Boy Scout Woods and Smith Oaks Bird Sanctuary.
In Brazoria County, you’ll want to stop at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. It’s a 43,000-acre refuge with salt grass prairies, mud flats, fresh and saltwater marshes and lakes, and salt cedars. Most importantly, it’s a favorite for many coastal and migratory species. You should also look up the Quintana Neotropic Bird Sanctuary. It offers trails, ponds, park benches and the Alongis Tower, and during the month of April, Gulf Coast Observatory offers tours and information at this site.
Matagorda County is home to the Matagorda County Birding Nature Center (MCBNC) in Bay City. This area offers 34 acres and is on the Colorado River in Bay City, Texas. MCBNC has six botanical gardens and three major ecosystems. And, if you enjoy camping, add Matagorda Bay Nature Park to your list. It’s located where the Colorado River meets the Gulf of Mexico.
About Lone Star Coastal Alliance
The Lone Star Coastal Alliance is a 501(c)3 created to preserve and promote the upper Texas Gulf Coast region in a manner that enhances coastal resilience while fostering economic development focused on conservation and tourism, elevating the unique natural, cultural, and historical assets of the region and benefitting quality of life within the communities.