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Field Guides Tour Report
Texas Coast Migration Spectacle II 2019
Apr 20, 2019 to Apr 26, 2019
John Coons

A lot of shorebirds are present on the coast and in nearby flooded rice fields. Here, an American Avocet and Greater Yellowlegs are walking in unison as they feed at Rollover Pass. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.

Our week of birding in East Texas and the Upper Texas Coast proved great for migration and the local specialty birds as well. Each of our days along the coast found new migrants arriving that kept us busy. The weather cooperated very well. It was dry on the days we wanted it to be dry and we had a big rain one night that was certainly the cause of a lot of birds appearing the next day. We started off in the Piney Woods on our first morning. It took a bit of searching, but we finally had nice looks at a Red-cockaded Woodpecker at Jones State Forest where a beautiful Red-headed also showed well. We headed east to the Big Thicket and the bottomland forests, where we encountered several of the local breeding warblers. Prothonotary, Kentucky, Hooded, Northern Parula, Yellow-throated, and Prairie were all seen, along with great looks at the very special Swainson's Warbler. We explored more of the Big Thicket that day and the next morning, where we drove north to good habitat for Bachman's Sparrow, another local specialty. Again, it took some searching but we ended up with wonderful views of this great sparrow in full song. We then headed south to the open coastal country with a detour to see two Whooping Cranes that had been frequenting a rice field near Winnie.

We spent the next 3 1/2 days chasing down local and migrating waterbirds and shorebirds and, of course, migrating passerines in the woods. In the extensive marshes of Anahuac NWR and the Bolivar Peninsula, we had nice looks at King and Clapper rails, Seaside and Nelson's Sparrows, Sedge Wren, and a slew of herons and egrets. On the beaches and sandbars and flooded rice fields, we located eight species of terns, and such great shorebirds as Hudsonian Godwits in breeding plumage, Upland Sandpipers, Snowy and Piping plovers, Red Knot, White-rumped Sandpiper, and lots of Whimbrels. The egret and spoonbill rookery at Smith Woods was also special, with close views of these birds with bright colors on their bills and feet that are only present for a short time during the breeding season.

Each afternoon found us in the woods at High Island seeing what migrants arrived that day, and each was productive. Some species did not perform well and only gave us fleeting looks, while others bathed in water drips, gorged themselves on mulberries and methodically worked the emerging leaves of pecan trees for insects and caterpillars. On our last full day, we recorded 19 species of warblers and we had 27 for the trip, plus Yellow-breasted Chat that used to be a warbler. Other highlights from the coast and woods included the flock of American Avocets all feeding in unison, a Peregrine causing hundreds of shorebirds to skip a heartbeat, lots of Eastern Kingbirds arriving on our first day at High Island, wonderful views of Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, big numbers of Tree Swallows at Anahuac, big numbers of both Orchard and Baltimore orioles, a male Golden-winged Warbler, a couple of Blue-winged Warblers, several more Hooded Warblers, a couple of gorgeous male Ceruleans, Bay-breasteds, a brilliant Blackburnian, Chestnut-sideds, a locally uncommon Black-throated Blue Warbler, scores of Summer and Scarlet Tanagers and a big flock of Dickcissels.

This area of Texas is well-known for being informal with friendly people, and it was great fun to share it with all of you. I hope we get together again one of these days. John

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis) – We saw these most of the days on the Texas Coast, with our first ones at Anahuac NWR.

The Great Egrets at High Island were in fine plumage, with some showing the bright green lores of breeding time. Photo by participant Elizabeth Harding.

FULVOUS WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna bicolor) – Anahuac was the only site where we saw this species.
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors) – This was the most common of the ducks we saw.
NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata) – We saw a single individual still hanging around on the day we drove to the Coast.
GADWALL (Mareca strepera) – There were about four individuals on the big pond at Anahuac.
MOTTLED DUCK (Anas fulvigula) – We saw several pairs at Anahuac and at a few other ponds on the Bolivar Peninsula.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) [I]
WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica) – Our first was perched on the wire at Anahuac, then we heard a couple around High Island and saw a few at Sabine Woods.
MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO (Coccyzus americanus) – We only managed to run into one of these, at Smith Woods.
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
LESSER NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles acutipennis) – We had a nice view of one perched on a tree limb during the day, right over the road leading to Boy Scout Woods. A couple of friends pointed it out to us.
COMMON NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles minor) – We saw a few flying around at dusk and at least one flying about during the day.
Apodidae (Swifts)
CHIMNEY SWIFT (Chaetura pelagica) – There were not many of these around the woods at High Island, which was unusual. We did see a few here and there.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus colubris) – We had several good views with an exceptional number, about eight, feeding at one spot at some red flowers while we were birding along the Bolivar Peninsula.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
KING RAIL (Rallus elegans) – A couple of individuals, especially the second one, showed very well for us in the roadside marshes at Anahuac.
CLAPPER RAIL (GULF COAST) (Rallus crepitans saturatus) – We saw a few of these, with one at Rollover Pass that walked right across the sand as we were looking at the shorebirds.
SORA (Porzana carolina) – We heard a few and some of us glimpsed one at Tyrrell Park, but we had a nice look at one walking on the edge of the road at Texas Point.
COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata) – There were lots of these as Anahuac NWR.
AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)
PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinica) – This unusually colored bird gave us a few good looks at Anahuac.
Gruidae (Cranes)
WHOOPING CRANE (Grus americana) – We saw two individuals that were feeding in an overgrown rice field on our way to the Coast. These were evidently from the free-flying Louisiana population that has been around for a few generations, but they were not previously known to come to this part of Texas.
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)
AMERICAN AVOCET (Recurvirostra americana) – There were a lot of these at Bolivar Flats, but we really enjoyed watching those at Rollover Pass that were feeding in unison.
Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)
AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus palliatus) – A couple of pairs of this odd shorebird were seen along the Bolivar Peninsula.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola) – We saw a fair number, with many showing the entire black belly of full breeding plumage.
AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER (Pluvialis dominica) – Our only sighting was a single bird on the lawn at Fort Travis.

There seems to be a bit of courtship going on between these Sandwich Terns, as one passes a fish to another at Bolivar Flats. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.

SNOWY PLOVER (Charadrius nivosus) – There were three individuals on the beach at Bolivar Flats that gave us a nice look before flying off.
WILSON'S PLOVER (Charadrius wilsonia) – There were a few of these at Rollover Pass and at Bolivar Flats.
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus) – Good numbers were on the beaches and in the flooded rice fields.
PIPING PLOVER (Charadrius melodus) – A quite dainty little plover, there were a few on the beach after our first at Rollover Pass.
KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
UPLAND SANDPIPER (Bartramia longicauda) – We saw a few birds at the turf farm that immediately took flight but they circled around and landed in another weedy field and gave us a scope view.
WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus) – These birds were headed to the wet tundra of the Canadian arctic for nesting. We had nice close views of several and then a whole bunch of them in the flooded field on our last morning.
HUDSONIAN GODWIT (Limosa haemastica) – One of the more sought-after shorebirds on the Upper Texas Coast. We found a few in the flooded field on our last morning just after a nice flock of about 25 flew past and circled briefly, showing the white rump. This is a quite handsome shorebird overall.
MARBLED GODWIT (Limosa fedoa) – Unlike the Hudsonian Godwits, this species is usually found in coastal waters on the Upper Texas Coast.
RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres) – Good numbers were seen, with many in bright breeding plumage.
RED KNOT (Calidris canutus) – We saw a single bird, still in winter plumage, on the beach at Bolivar Flats. It is never a common species here.
STILT SANDPIPER (Calidris himantopus) – We had good views of our first in the wet field on the way in to Anahuac, then there were a handful more in the flooded field on our last morning.
SANDERLING (Calidris alba) – Lots of these were on the beaches and sandbars.

A wintering bird along the coast, some Nelson’s Sparrows linger late into the spring before heading north to Minnesota, North Dakota, and Manitoba. Photo by guide John Coons.

DUNLIN (Calidris alpina) – There were not as many as I expected to see, but we still had good views of this species, with some in breeding plumage with the black bellies.
BAIRD'S SANDPIPER (Calidris bairdii) – We had a scope view of one on our last morning and there were certainly more, but we didn't have time to check all of the birds before heading to the airport.
LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)
WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER (Calidris fuscicollis) – We saw about four individuals on our last morning, showing long wings and spotted flanks.
PECTORAL SANDPIPER (Calidris melanotos) – A fair number were in a couple of the flooded rice fields.
SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER (Calidris pusilla) – Again, there were probably many more than the few we saw in the field that was full of birds on our last morning.
SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus griseus) – There were good numbers of dowitchers in a few areas. We had some good identifying views of these that were generally more common in the coastal waters than the Long-bills.
LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus scolopaceus) – There were big numbers of this species, with some Short-bills mixed with them, in the flooded rice fields.
WILSON'S SNIPE (Gallinago delicata) – We had a nice view of one in a small pond just off the road at Anahuac NWR that hunkered down when we spotted it.
WILSON'S PHALAROPE (Phalaropus tricolor) – A group of about five individuals, all females in bright breeding colors, sailed passed on our last morning at the flooded field.
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)
SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Tringa solitaria) – We saw a single bird at Anahuac.
GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca) – These were far outnumbered by Lesser Yellowlegs but we had good looks.
WILLET (Tringa semipalmata) – This species seemed to be in many habitats, tidal flats, rice fields, coastal marshes, tops of fence posts, and even in the road.
LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes) – There were good numbers of this common migrant in most wet fields.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla) – This was, by far, the most common gull we encountered.
RING-BILLED GULL (Larus delawarensis) – We only saw a few but really didn't look hard for them.
HERRING GULL (AMERICAN) (Larus argentatus smithsonianus) – Just about all were along the beach at Bolivar Flats.
LEAST TERN (Sternula antillarum) – A few were seen at out first visit to Rollover Pass, then we saw many many more on the beach at Bolivar Flats.
GULL-BILLED TERN (Gelochelidon nilotica) – A few of these more inland terns were seen on the Bolivar Peninsula.
CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia)
BLACK TERN (Chlidonias niger) – Several were in the very pretty all-black plumage. This is a species that has become more common in recent years along the Coast here.

On a couple of our days at the woodlots, we saw a number of brilliant Scarlet Tanagers that were feeding on mulberries. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.

COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo) – These were fairly common with the other loafing gulls and terns on the beaches and sandbars.
FORSTER'S TERN (Sterna forsteri) – This is the local nesting tern in the area marshes, and though we saw a fair number it did not appear they had really started nesting yet.
ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus) – These large terns with the shaggy crests were well represented at Bolivar Flats.
SANDWICH TERN (Thalasseus sandvicensis) – One of the most handsome of the terns, with its streamlined shape and long black bill, we saw them well a few times.
BLACK SKIMMER (Rynchops niger) – A quite unusual species, there were good numbers at Rollover Pass and a few at Bolivar Flats.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) – This is the common cormorant here.
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax auritus)
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) – We saw many at Rollover and Bolivar Flats, where there are more than there were just a few years ago.
BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis) – We were rarely out of sight of these when we were along the Coast.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
AMERICAN BITTERN (Botaurus lentiginosus) – On our last morning, one flushed out of the reedy vegetation at the edge of a rice field.
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba) – We saw many, with their fine plumes and with chicks, in the nests at the rookery.
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula) – Some at the rookery had bright orange feet and intense red lores that are indicative of high breeding activity.

The water drips at the woodlots at High Island attract an array of species on some days. This Black-and-White Warbler enjoyed settling in after the long flight across the Gulf. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.

LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)
TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor) – We had many looks at this striking heron, including some on nests in the marsh at Anahuac.
REDDISH EGRET (Egretta rufescens) – A single bird was prancing around in the shallow water at Rollover Pass.
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis) – We also saw this well-known species with intense breeding colors in a few places.
GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)
YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea) – Elizabeth spotted our first at Tyrrell Park then we saw a few more here and there.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus) – We saw them each day, with a flock of about 70 flying over the Piney Woods on our first day.
WHITE-FACED IBIS (Plegadis chihi)
ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja) – After getting teased by birds flying by or perched in the distance, we had great looks at close individuals hanging around nests at the rookery at Smith Woods.
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus) – Before Hurricane Ike, this species was really only seen in the Big Thicket area. After Ike, they moved in to the coastal areas to feed on the drowned livestock and they never left.
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) – Ian spotted our only one perched on a sign way out in a marsh on the Peninsula.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
NORTHERN HARRIER (Circus hudsonius)
BALD EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) – We saw an adult on a distant nest near Tyrrell Park that was pointed out by another birder.
RED-SHOULDERED HAWK (Buteo lineatus) – We had a couple of quick looks in the Piney Woods and Big Thicket.
RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)
Strigidae (Owls)
BARRED OWL (Strix varia) – Unfortunately we could not get this bird to budge. [*]
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
RED-HEADED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) – We had nice looks on our first morning at Jones State Forest. This is really a great looking woodpecker.
RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes carolinus) – After hearing several, we finally got nice looks at Sabine Woods.
DOWNY WOODPECKER (Dryobates pubescens)
RED-COCKADED WOODPECKER (Dryobates borealis) – It took some looking, but we ended up with nice looks at this quite rare species on our first morning at Jones State Forest. it was a big surprise to encounter two more the next day in the Piney Woods north of Jasper.
PILEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus pileatus) – We saw a cooperative individual in the Big Thicket on our first day.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara cheriway) – This unusual raptor showed well a couple of times for us, including two that were standing in the road on the Bolivar Peninsula.

One of the more sought-after shorebirds that migrates through the Upper Texas Coast, this Hudsonian Godwit gave us very nice views on our last morning. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.

PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) – One shot over the big shorebird field and got everything up, causing mayhem as we were checking these birds on our last morning.
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus virens) – We saw and heard a fair number.
ACADIAN FLYCATCHER (Empidonax virescens) – A couple of migrant individuals were seen near the end of the week.
GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus crinitus) – After hearing, a few we finally connected at Sabine Woods.
EASTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus tyrannus) – Lots of these were seen the first two days at the woodlots at High Island. Their numbers thinned by the end of the week.
SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Tyrannus forficatus) – We had great scope views of this beautiful species.
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
WHITE-EYED VIREO (Vireo griseus) – A quite common bird by vocalization in the Big Thicket, we saw a few on their breeding grounds and as migrants near the Coast.
YELLOW-THROATED VIREO (Vireo flavifrons) – An early migrant, these were on their breeding grounds.
PHILADELPHIA VIREO (Vireo philadelphicus) – I believe I was the only one who saw this species, as another bird was getting most of the attention at the same time.
RED-EYED VIREO (Vireo olivaceus) – These were fairly common on most days along the Coast.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
BLUE JAY (Cyanocitta cristata) – A well-known bird to those from the east, it is one of the prettiest of the jays.
AMERICAN CROW (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
FISH CROW (Corvus ossifragus) – We saw this local species at Tyrrell Park.

During the high breeding season, many of the herons and egrets develop amazing colors on the soft parts such as the legs, bill and facial skin. This Cattle Egret shows a bright red bill with a yellow tip and purple coloration on the lores that is never illustrated in field guides. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)
NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)
PURPLE MARTIN (Progne subis) – We only had a few; they were not yet using the martin houses in various places.
TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor) – Tree Swallows were passing in big numbers and we saw a lot of them perched and flying over the marshes at Anahuac.
BANK SWALLOW (Riparia riparia) – We saw one perched with three other species of swallows on a dead branch at Anahuac.
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)
CLIFF SWALLOW (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) – These were common around the big bridges in the Big Thicket area and we saw a few poking their heads out of nests at Anahuac.
CAVE SWALLOW (Petrochelidon fulva) – Just as we were about to leave, a couple or three flew by and started giving us looks at the small bridge on the Bolivar Peninsula.
Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)
CAROLINA CHICKADEE (Poecile carolinensis) – This dainty little chickadee showed itself to us on our first morning.
TUFTED TITMOUSE (Baeolophus bicolor) – We saw a couple in the Big Thicket but heard more.
Sittidae (Nuthatches)
BROWN-HEADED NUTHATCH (Sitta pusilla) – A very cute little specialty of the southeastern pine forests; we had nice close views on our first morning at Jones State Forest.
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
SEDGE WREN (Cistothorus platensis) – One sat up and performed quite nicely for us along the roadside vegetation.
MARSH WREN (Cistothorus palustris)
CAROLINA WREN (Thryothorus ludovicianus) – This was a common sound in the mornings in the Big Thicket.
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea)
Regulidae (Kinglets)
RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET (Regulus calendula) – A late wintering individual was still hanging around at High Island.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
EASTERN BLUEBIRD (Sialia sialis) – We saw a few males and females the first couple of days in the Piney Woods.
GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH (Catharus minimus) – This species didn't show well but we had a couple or three during the week.
SWAINSON'S THRUSH (Catharus ustulatus) – There were a fair number of these around each day in the woods at High Island and at Sabine.
WOOD THRUSH (Hylocichla mustelina)
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
GRAY CATBIRD (Dumetella carolinensis) – There were certainly a lot of these around, especially at the mulberry trees.
BROWN THRASHER (Toxostoma rufum) – It was odd that we only saw this speces at Sabine Woods.
NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos) – We heard a couple of them with quite a repertoire of imitations of other birds.
Sturnidae (Starlings)
EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) [I]

Shorebird migration in the flooded rice fields seemed to increase as the week went on, and we saw a lot of Whimbrels in some of the fields by the end of the week. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.

Bombycillidae (Waxwings)
CEDAR WAXWING (Bombycilla cedrorum)
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
PINE SISKIN (Spinus pinus) – We saw a few at Jones State Forest where they were late migrants still hanging around from the winter.
Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)
BACHMAN'S SPARROW (Peucaea aestivalis) – It took us a while to see this specialty of the southeast pine forests, but we ended up with a great scope view of a singing bird.
SEASIDE SPARROW (Ammospiza maritima) – In a salt marsh on the Bolivar Peninsula, we had a nice view of this local specialty showing its pale throat and yellow lores.
NELSON'S SPARROW (Ammospiza nelsoni) – A wintering species here on the Upper Texas Coast. We had great looks at an individual perched closely in the marsh. This is one of the prettiest of the sparrows.
SAVANNAH SPARROW (Passerculus sandwichensis) – There were a lot of these on the roadsides at Anahuac.
LINCOLN'S SPARROW (Melospiza lincolnii) – Another late migrant that should have already left, we saw one in the weedy field at the back of Boy Scout Woods.
Icteriidae (Yellow-breasted Chat)
YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT (Icteria virens) – Formerly considered a warbler and now the sole member of its family, we had a nice look at a rather close bird in the Big Thicket.
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
EASTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella magna)
ORCHARD ORIOLE (Icterus spurius) – On a few of the days at High Island there were a good number of these around.
BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula) – Several brilliant males were seen each day at High Island.
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Who doesn’t like a close view of a Roseate Spoonbill? We saw many of them at the rookery at High Island. Photo by guide John Coons.

COMMON GRACKLE (Quiscalus quiscula)
BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus major) – This species is actually quite an interesting looking grackle that is only found here in its native habitat of coastal prairies.
GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
OVENBIRD (Seiurus aurocapilla) – We saw a few walking about on the forest floor but our first was at Smith Woods, where it was nearly straight overhead and not moving, in a thicket of leaves.
WORM-EATING WARBLER (Helmitheros vermivorum) – We saw one at Smith Woods but it got away before we could all get on to it.
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis) – We had nice looks at the water drip at Boy Scout Woods on our first day there.
GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora chrysoptera) – A fine looking male made a brief appearance on our final day at High Island.
"BREWSTER'S" WARBLER (Vermivora chrysoptera x cyanoptera) – At Smith Woods we had a brief look at a "Brewster's" Warbler. This is a hybrid between Golden-winged and Blue-winged warblers, and each individual is a bit different, but has characteristics of each species. This one had a yellow cap and bright yellow on the wing as a Golden-winged would show, but had a thin black eye-line and white throat as in a Blue-winged. They are seen at High Island each spring but are never common.
BLUE-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora cyanoptera) – We saw a few, with great looks at the one at Sabine Woods.
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia) – A few were seen each day in the woods.
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (Protonotaria citrea) – We had a nice view of a singing male in the Big Thicket on our first morning, and another came into the drip at Boy Scout Woods. This is a wonderful species that is found in bottomland forests mostly through the southeast U.S.
SWAINSON'S WARBLER (Limnothlypis swainsonii) – At one of our first stops in the Big Thicket we heard a singing bird and ended up getting wonderful views. This is a true southeast specialty that can be a tough one to see well, but we were treated to great looks.
TENNESSEE WARBLER (Oreothlypis peregrina) – Often one of the more common migrant warblers at the migration traps, we encountered several on a few of the days.
KENTUCKY WARBLER (Geothlypis formosa) – We found a singing individual in the Big Thicket and finally got a nice look at this handsome bird. We wanted to see it here where it can sit up in the trees instead of trying to see a skulker in the undergrowth at High Island. We did end up seeing another at Boy Scout Woods and it was tough to see.
COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas) – A few were heard in the wet areas of the Big Thicket and we saw a few as migrants where they came to the water drips.
HOODED WARBLER (Setophaga citrina) – Another mostly southeast nesting species that we saw singing on the breeding grounds. We also saw these each day as migrants, including three that came in to the drip at Smith Woods at the same time.
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla) – We saw males and females, but most were brightly colored males that were black and orange.
CERULEAN WARBLER (Setophaga cerulea) – This is one of the more sought-after species on the Upper Texas Coast and we had nice looks at two beautiful males on our first afternoon at Smith Woods, with both showing the blue back and thin blue breast band.
NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana) – A species found mostly in cypress swamps of the southwest part of its range, we saw our first, a nice male, on the first morning. We ended up seeing a few more during the week.
MAGNOLIA WARBLER (Setophaga magnolia) – We had a few during the week; another quite colorful warbler.
BAY-BREASTED WARBLER (Setophaga castanea) – A quite colorful warbler that we had on a couple of the days, this is one of the later warblers to arrive on the Upper Texas Coast. This species has a long way to go to its northern forests of Canada.
BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER (Setophaga fusca) – We chased this one around for a bit at Sabine Woods, but ended up with a nice look at this colorful species with the bright orange throat.

No longer a warbler since it was moved to its own family, this Yellow-breasted Chat gave us nice looks in the Big Thicket. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.

YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia) – This familiar species was seen each day at High Island and Sabine Woods.
CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER (Setophaga pensylvanica) – One of my favorite warblers, we saw a few on the last couple of days of our trip.
BLACKPOLL WARBLER (Setophaga striata) – This is the furthest north nesting warbler in North America, as they breed in stunted willows in the far north. We saw a few the last couple of days.
BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER (Setophaga caerulescens) – This species mainly winters in the Caribbean, and therefore most of them migrate to the east of Texas, making it a rather rare bird on the Upper Texas Coast. We had nice looks at one at Sabine Woods that had been seen off and on for a few days. It was drawing a crowd of photographers.
PINE WARBLER (Setophaga pinus) – We heard several of them in the Piney Woods and finally got a nice look at one near Sam Rayburn Lake.
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER (Setophaga dominica) – Another real beauty, we saw one on its breeding grounds in the Big Thicket, where it was singing from high in a tree along a creek. We managed to see it lower down, showing the bright yellow throat.
PRAIRIE WARBLER (Setophaga discolor) – In this part of Texas, this species nests in the replanted pines that are about 4-8 years old. We heard several of them and got a nice look at one singing from the top of a eight foot pine.
BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER (Setophaga virens) – The day we arrived at High Island we saw several of these. The next two days we didn't see any before finding them again on our last full day. This is one of the great aspects of birding at a migration mecca like High Island, each day is different.
WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla) – One came to the water drip at Smith Woods in our first afternoon there.
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra) – We saw these every day on the Coast, with good numbers of males, females and blotched younger males.
SCARLET TANAGER (Piranga olivacea) – Another great looking, sharply-marked bird; we had good numbers each day in the woodlots.
NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis)
ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus) – Several males and females were seen gorging on the mulberries at Smith Woods.
BLUE GROSBEAK (Passerina caerulea) – A male showed pretty well for us.
INDIGO BUNTING (Passerina cyanea) – This species was also in the mulberry trees with the tanagers and grosbeaks, and in pretty good numbers.
PAINTED BUNTING (Passerina ciris) – Our only ones were a couple that flushed out of the weeds near Hook's Woods on our last afternoon.
DICKCISSEL (Spiza americana) – A great looking bird; we saw a couple on our first trip to the rice fields then saw a lot on the last morning when we were checking the shorebird fields.
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

SWAMP RABBIT (Sylvilagus aquaticus) – There were a few seen around the woods at High Island.
EASTERN GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus carolinensis) – This was the common squirrel we saw in the woodlots.
FOX SQUIRREL (Sciurus niger) – We saw one at Tyrrell Park near Beaumont.
BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN (Tursiops truncatus) – At least a couple were seen in the water at the entrance to Galveston Bay.
WHITE-TAILED DEER (Odocoileus virginianus) – We saw a few just off the road near Sam Rayburn Lake.


Totals for the tour: 189 bird taxa and 5 mammal taxa