High Island Migration: Apr 16—22, 2017

Register for WaitlistTour Details

Price: $2,095
Departs: Houston
Tour Limit: 7
Operations Manager: Margaret Anderson
Download Itinerary: PDF (100.6 KB)

Route Map


Tour Leaders


Steve Hilty

Steve Hilty is the senior author of A Guide to the Birds of Colombia, and author of Birds of...

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Register for the Waiting List

This departure is sold out! Add your name to the waiting list, or inquire about this tour by calling our office (1-800-328-VENT or 512-328-5221), or emailing us (info@ventbird.com).

Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager— Photo: Brian Lasenby/shutterstock

One of the finest and best-known spectacles of spring songbird migration in North America, with dozens of warblers and other songbird species, plus loads of shorebirds, marsh birds, and Southeast pine wood specialties like Red-cockaded Woodpecker.

Every spring, millions of birds migrate north from the American Tropics to the forests of the eastern United States. They take off from Central America just at sunset for the long journey over the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Typically they are riding a south wind, so that when they reach the Texas/Louisiana coast, most of them continue inland before putting down. But if the migrants encounter north winds and rain during their flight, they are forced down into isolated groves along the upper Gulf coast of Texas. The result can be a staggering phenomenon, a fallout, as thousands of migrants converge as they reach the safety of the coast. The greatest of these fallouts occur only once or twice a spring when conditions are just right, but some birds put down along the coast every day, and a great variety can always be seen over the course of the week.

This tour is designed to focus on spring migration along the upper Texas coast. Most nights will be spent near High Island, where isolated groves of live oaks and other trees may attract large numbers of migrants in a fallout, and where some migrants occur regularly. Each day’s activities will depend on the weather, and our schedule will be flexible. If fallout conditions occur, we will bird High Island and other migrant traps. If the weather is good, with a south wind, we will concentrate on the rice fields for shorebirds, the extensive marshes for wading birds, and the great Bolivar Flats for coastal shorebirds, terns, and wading birds. We will visit Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, which is famous among birders as a good place to observe such notoriously secretive marsh-dwellers as Least and American bitterns, King Rail, Purple Gallinule, and Sora. Fulvous Whistling-Duck, White-faced Ibis, and lots of alligators are also seen at Anahuac. When rice fields are flooded for cultivation in April, migrating shorebirds may swarm to them. Sometimes thousands of shorebirds in glorious spring plumage are present, including such scarce species as Hudsonian Godwit, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, American Golden-Plover, White-rumped Sandpiper, Wilson’s Phalarope, and Stilt Sandpiper. We will make a special trip into the pine forests and bayou country farther inland to look for Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Red-headed Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, and other specialty nesters, such as Swainson’s and Prairie warblers. Regardless of the weather, every day on the Texas coast in late April will be an eventful one.

Good accommodations; all but one night at one location; mostly easy walking on trails, boardwalks, and beaches; midday breaks some days; warm, sometimes humid conditions.