A Field Guides Birding Tours Report


April 15-21, 2023 with John Coons guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
These Reddish Egrets at Rollover Pass seemed to be a mated pair. We watched one of them “dancing” in the water to attract small fish. Photo by participant Dan Blower.

We enjoyed a wonderful week of birding in the varied habitats of east Texas. The weather cooperated to cause birds to drop into the migration traps without seemingly stressing the trans-Gulf migrants, and we also avoided rain causing any issues with our birding.

We started in the Piney Woods and Big Thicket of east Texas, where we enjoyed the very locally distributed Red-cockaded Woodpeckers at Jones State Forest with Brown-headed Nuthatches and Pine Warblers nearby. We watched a pair of Wood Ducks in a tall pine with the female poking her head from a nest hole. From here we proceeded eastward, and that day and the next morning we ended up having nice looks at nine species of breeding warblers: Pine, Kentucky, Swainson's, Prothonotary, Northern Parula, Worm-eating, Prairie, Common Yellowthroat, and Yellow-throated. It is so great to hear the wonderful songs of these warblers on their nesting grounds. Typically, most of the migrant birds in the woodlots near the coast are not singing.

Since we had done so well on our first day, we managed to work in a trip north and found a singing Bachman's Sparrow in its ever-declining habitat. From here we made our way south toward the Gulf Coast and had our first taste of marsh birding with nice looks at a Least Bittern and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons. We got to High Island and the migration traps of the famous town that afternoon and immediately started seeing migrant species right in the parking lot of the woodlot owned by the Houston Audubon Society.

We spent parts of the next four days birding the woods at High Island and at Sabine Pass as well as freshwater and coastal marshes, tidal mudflats, and open-country rice fields. Although we saw new migrants each day, our arrival day, Monday, and then Wednesday afternoon were especially memorable for the number of species of warblers we encountered. Highlights of the week were many and included, in addition to those birds already mentioned, the Clapper Rail with four chicks crossing the road, the large number of American Avocets, all five species of banded plovers (including nice looks at Snowy, Piping, and Wilson's), Upland Sandpipers, eight species of terns, the American Bittern we saw in the open at Anahuac, all those breeding-plumage herons, egrets, and spoonbills at nests, our pair of Barred Owls at dusk, the gorgeous Red-headed Woodpeckers, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, several Wood Thrushes, Seaside and Nelson's sparrows showing well, good numbers of Baltimore and Orchard orioles, a comparison of Louisiana and Northern waterthrushes at the same pond, Golden-winged, Cerulean, and Blackburnian warblers, a multitude of Summer and Scarlet tanagers, and a male Painted Bunting on our final afternoon.

It was wonderful birding with all of you and experiencing the local culture and cuisine of east Texas and the Gulf Coast. Our trip was great fun, and I hope to see you all again on another trip.


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 our first flying over Jones State Forest, then saw a few each day the rest of the week.

FULVOUS WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna bicolor)

There were big numbers of these at Anahuac flying about and perched on Shoveler Pond.

WOOD DUCK (Aix sponsa)

We scoped a pair at Jones State Forest, with the male perched on a limb high in a pine and the female poking her head out of a nest hole.

BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors)

This was the common duck we saw in several habitats once we reached the Guld Coast area.

MOTTLED DUCK (Anas fulvigula)

We only saw a couple of pairs on a couple of days.

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps)

Our first were at Cattail Marsh then a few others including one with greblets along the Bolivar Peninsula.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]

EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) [I]

Field Guides Birding Tours
Our picnic breakfast in the field was interrupted by Scissor-tailed Flycatchers that ended up stealing the show. Photo by participant Dan Blower.

WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)

Dan spotted one on our first day and we heard them a couple of times.

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO (Coccyzus americanus)

We saw these a couple of days in the woods at High Island.

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)

COMMON NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles minor)

We had a nice look at one perched on the ground at Sea Rim State Park thanks to a tip from Louise.

Apodidae (Swifts)

CHIMNEY SWIFT (Chaetura pelagica)

There were daily sightings of birds mostly flying high above us.

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus colubris)

Our only sighting was one at Sabine Woods. They seemed to be late in arriving this year.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

CLAPPER RAIL (GULF COAST) (Rallus crepitans saturatus)

We had fantastic views of one right next to the road at Anahuac then we saw one with four chicks crossing the road near Sabine Pass.

SORA (Porzana carolina)

One was flushed from the marsh near Sabine Pass.

COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata)

AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)

PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinica)

We saw this colorful species at Cattail Marsh and again at Anahuac and at the rookery at Smith Woods.

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)

We saw pair and a few small flocks scattered around during the week.

AMERICAN AVOCET (Recurvirostra americana)

There were hundreds at Bolivar Flats and the North Jetty on the Bolivar Peninsula.

Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)

AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus palliatus)

We only had one, at Rollover Pass on our first visit to the Bolivar Peninsula.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)

We saw several on the beaches.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Worm-eating Warbler is a quite uncommon nesting species in the Big Thicket of east Texas, but we had nice looks at one we heard singing along a roadside. Photo by participant Dan Blower.

AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER (Pluvialis dominica)

Our best view was on the beach at Sea Rim State Park

SNOWY PLOVER (Charadrius nivosus)

At Bolivar Flats we found about 5-6 individuals.

WILSON'S PLOVER (Charadrius wilsonia)

Rebecca spotted our first one at Bolivar Flats then we saw a couple at nests at Sea Rim State Park that had cages over the eggs to keep out predators.

SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus)

A fair number were at Bolivar Flats.

PIPING PLOVER (Charadrius melodus)

We had nice looks at this threatened little shorebird at Bolivar Flats and again at Sea Rim.

KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

UPLAND SANDPIPER (Bartramia longicauda)

We saw four individuals along a roadside amongst the dry rice fields.

WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus)

A few were seen on the Bolivar Peninsula.

MARBLED GODWIT (Limosa fedoa)

A fair number were at Rollover Pass with more at Bolivar Flats.

RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)

STILT SANDPIPER (Calidris himantopus)

There were a few in breeding plumage at Anahuac NWR.

SANDERLING (Calidris alba)

Good numbers were seen on the beaches.

DUNLIN (Calidris alpina)

A handful of the many we saw had their breeding plumage black bellies.

BAIRD'S SANDPIPER (Calidris bairdii)

Our only one was in the rice field we found on our last morning before heading to the airport.

LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)

Several were encountered on the Bolivar Peninsula and along the road edges with wet fields.

Field Guides Birding Tours
The herons and egrets at the nesting colony at Smith Oaks were in full breeding colors and plumes, as this Tricolored Heron shows. Photo by participant Dan Blower.

PECTORAL SANDPIPER (Calidris melanotos)

About 40 individuals were at the sod farm north of Winnie.


A few were scattered in with the other peeps here and there.

WESTERN SANDPIPER (Calidris mauri)

We had nice looks at a mostly breeding plumaged individual that was standing in the side road on the Bolivar Peninsula.

SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus griseus)

We had nice views and heard them calling on a couple of the days.

LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus scolopaceus)

A fair number were seen on the Bolivar Peninsula.

SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)

SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Tringa solitaria)

We saw two individuals during the week.

WILLET (Tringa semipalmata)

Many were encountered with several in breeding plumage.

LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)

These were quite common on a few of the days.

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla)

This was the common gull throughout the week.

FRANKLIN'S GULL (Leucophaeus pipixcan)

There were five individuals in the flooded rice field we found on our final morning of birding before heading to the airport.

RING-BILLED GULL (Larus delawarensis)

Only a few were seen on the Bolivar Peninsula.

HERRING GULL (AMERICAN) (Larus argentatus smithsonianus)

I think we only encountered a couple or three along the beach at Bolivar Flats.

LEAST TERN (Sternula antillarum)

Good numbers were seen at Bolivar Flats where there is a fair-sized nesting colony.

GULL-BILLED TERN (Gelochelidon nilotica)

About three pairs were seen on the Bolivar Peninsula at the inland marshes we visited.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Red-cockaded Woodpecker was the star at our first birding stop on our first morning. This southeastern US specialty is at the extreme western edge of its range here. Photo by participant Dan Blower.

CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia)

Our first was at Anahuac then we had another one or two mixed in with the Royal Terns along the Bolivar Peninsula.

BLACK TERN (Chlidonias niger)

We enjoyed nice looks at several birds at Rollover Pass.

COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo)

There were still a handful of these migrants on the Bolivar Peninsula that will soon be headed north.

FORSTER'S TERN (Sterna forsteri)

This was the most commonly seen small tern we encountered.

ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus)

A good number of these large terns were seen at Rollover Pass, Bolivar Flats, and Sea Rim.

SANDWICH TERN (Thalasseus sandvicensis)

A very handsome tern, we had our best views at Rollover Pass where we were fairly close to the tern flock.

BLACK SKIMMER (Rynchops niger)

This favorite of many showed well at Rollover Pass.

Anhingidae (Anhingas)

ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga)

Dan spotted one at the rookery at Smith Woods then we had a scope view of a perched bird there the next day.

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Nannopterum auritum)

We only saw one individual, they were far-out-numbered by the following.

NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Nannopterum brasilianum)

Many were seen and there were lots of them on nests at the rookery at Smith Woods.

Pelecanidae (Pelicans)

AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

Our only ones were seen on one of the dredge islands visible from Rollover Pass.

BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis)

These were a common sight along the Gulf Coast.

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

AMERICAN BITTERN (Botaurus lentiginosus)

We had a nice view of one at Anahuac that flew in and sat up well for us.

LEAST BITTERN (Ixobrychus exilis)

We had a nice view of one at Cattail Marsh then another we saw flush out of the reeds at Anahuac.

GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)

Field Guides Birding Tours
Blackpoll Warbler is usually one of the later warblers to arrive at High Island, but we enjoyed nice looks at this one at Smith Oaks there. Photo by participant Dan Blower.

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

We had these daily and saw a good number on nests at the rookery at Smith Woods.

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

These were also seen in full breeding colors at the rookery.

LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)

All of our sightings were around freshwater ponds and fields.

TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor)

Many were seen with several in beautiful breeding colors at the Smith Oaks rookery,

REDDISH EGRET (Egretta rufescens)

We saw about four individuals at Rolloever Pass and Bolivar Flats during our morning on the peninsula.

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)

Lots of these were encountered in breeding plumage with several on nests.

GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Dan saw our only one.

YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea)

We had views right next to the road of nicely marked individuals at Tyrrell Park near Beaumont then a few more around High Island.

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus)

These were seen nearly daily.

WHITE-FACED IBIS (Plegadis chihi)

Good numbers in the marshes near the coast.

ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja)

We saw several at nests at Smith Woods. The bright pink plumage makes this a favorite among visitors to the Smith Woods rookery.

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)


TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

These were also seen in good numbers everyday.

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)

Our only sighting was perched on a pole along the shipping channel on the Bolivar Peninsula.

Field Guides Birding Tours
It took us a while to spot this singing Bachman’s Sparrow, but we ended up watching it for ten minutes as it proclaimed its territory. Photo by guide John Coons.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucurus)

We watched one hovering and dropping over the pasture at Anahuac NWR that was getting dived on my Great-tailed Grackles.

NORTHERN HARRIER (Circus hudsonius)

A good number of wintering individuals were still lingering and we saw them in open country and over the marshes.

BALD EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

An adult few right over us at Cattail Marsh near Beaumont.

RED-SHOULDERED HAWK (Buteo lineatus)

We saw a couple in the Piney Woods and Big Thicket area.

BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus)

We had a fly by on our first morning.

SWAINSON'S HAWK (Buteo swainsoni)

A few were seen in the rice fields near Winnie. These birds have just returned from Argentina and some still have a ways to go to reach their nesting grounds.

RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)

Strigidae (Owls)

BARRED OWL (Strix varia)

We enjoyed great views of two individuals at dusk near Silsbee. We first spotted one perched on the power line as we drove past then the second was nearby on a post. We watched them make a few feeding forays to the ground where we speculated they were going after crawfish.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)

We saw at least one each day we were near High Island.

Picidae (Woodpeckers)


We saw a single bird at Smith Woods on our final afternoon.

RED-HEADED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)

One of the great woodpeckers, we had two individuals at Jones State Forest on our first morning that were probably nesting in the large dead tree.

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes carolinus)

DOWNY WOODPECKER (Dryobates pubescens)

RED-COCKADED WOODPECKER (Dryobates borealis)

We had nice looks at an individual in a tall pine at Jones State Forest then an even closer view as we were heading back to the van. This is just about as far west as this southeast US specialty gets in its range.

PILEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus pileatus)

This impressive woodpecker was seen near the Bachman's Sparrow spot north of Jasper.

Field Guides Birding Tours
A number of Cedar Waxwings were around, feeding on mulberries at High Island, but our first ones were at Jones State Forest where we saw them dropping to the ground to grab dewberries. Photo by guide John Coons.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara plancus)

Several individuals were seen on power poles and flying while we birded the open country around the rice fields and the Bolivar Peninsula.

AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)

We saw a couple of individuals.

MERLIN (Falco columbarius)

One flew over us at Sabine Woods but we never got a super look at it.

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus virens)

A few were seen in the woodlots by the end of our week.

ACADIAN FLYCATCHER (Empidonax virescens) [*]


There was a vocal bird at Sabine Woods that gave us a few looks during our time there.

EASTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus tyrannus)

A fair number were migrating through the woods at High Island and we saw a few that would have been breeders a bit further inland.


Our first ones were a pair that gave us a great view at our breakfast at Sam Rayburn Lake. Then we saw a handful of individuals in the open country around Winnie.

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

WHITE-EYED VIREO (Vireo griseus)

This was a common voice of the thickets in the piney woods. We saw a few there and in the migration traps during the week.

YELLOW-THROATED VIREO (Vireo flavifrons)

Our first were birds we saw on the breeding grounds in the Big Thicket, then we had a few as migrants near the coast.

BLUE-HEADED VIREO (Vireo solitarius)

We had a couple at Smith Woods on our second day there.

WARBLING VIREO (Vireo gilvus)

Our only individual was seen from the canopy walkway.

RED-EYED VIREO (Vireo olivaceus)

There were a few singing in the Piney Woods and we saw several as migrants near the coast.

Laniidae (Shrikes)

LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE (Lanius ludovicianus)

A few of these openn country birds were seen during the week.

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

BLUE JAY (Cyanocitta cristata)

One of the best looking jays, we heard and saw them a few days of the trip.

Field Guides Birding Tours
A handful of Black-throated Green Warblers showed up at High Island and Sabine Woods by the end of the week. Photo by participant Dan Blower.

AMERICAN CROW (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

This was the crow we saw in the Piney Woods and Big Thicket area in good numbers.

FISH CROW (Corvus ossifragus)

This species has expanded its range in recent years and is now common in the Silsbee area. We saw and heard them several times there and had them again at Sabine Woods.

Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)

CAROLINA CHICKADEE (Poecile carolinensis)

A few of these little guys were seen the first couple of days in the piney woods.

TUFTED TITMOUSE (Baeolophus bicolor)

This species inhabits much of the same range as Carolina Chickadee and we saw them together.

Alaudidae (Larks)

HORNED LARK (Eremophila alpestris)

We had nice looks at a couple in the vegetated part of the beach at Bolivar Flats.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)

A few were flying about over Shoveler Pond at Anahuac NWR.

PURPLE MARTIN (Progne subis)

There were several places where we saw them and a good number of nesting condos we encountered.

TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor)

There was a big flight of these migrants over the marsh at Anahuac.

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)

This species was nesting in a few places we visited.

CLIFF SWALLOW (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)

Our first ones were flying about under the bridge over the Trinity River.

Sittidae (Nuthatches)


This tiny nuthatch is a specialty of the southeast US and we had nice looks at Jones State Forest and again the next morning in the Piney Woods.

Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)

BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea)

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon)

We heard a couple in the piney Woods and one was seen at Smith Oaks.

SEDGE WREN (Cistothorus stellaris)

We had nice looks at one that popped up for us in the shrubs along the roadside near Anahuac.

MARSH WREN (Cistothorus palustris)

Normally a real skulker, we had a nice look at one at Cattail Marsh.

Field Guides Birding Tours
From the canopy walkway at Smith Oaks we could look down on the marsh, and Dan Blower captured this Green Heron that was intent on a small fish.

CAROLINA WREN (Thryothorus ludovicianus)

We heard several in the Piney Woods and had a few quick looks before getting a nice view of one at the large nest box at Smith Woods.

Sturnidae (Starlings)

EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) [I]

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)

GRAY CATBIRD (Dumetella carolinensis)

These were very common in the woods at High Island.

BROWN THRASHER (Toxostoma rufum)

We didn't get a look at this species until we got to Sabine Woods where the understory is more open.

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)

We saw these daily.

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

EASTERN BLUEBIRD (Sialia sialis)

We saw a few, males and females, at Jones State Forest where they were using the nest boxes provided. Everyone loves a bluebird.

SWAINSON'S THRUSH (Catharus ustulatus)

We saw good numbers on a few of the days and heard a few giving soft songs.

WOOD THRUSH (Hylocichla mustelina)

A well-known eastern US bird song we saw a few during the week and heard a few singing softly.

Bombycillidae (Waxwings)

CEDAR WAXWING (Bombycilla cedrorum)

An irruptive species that was in good numbers this year. We saw our first at Jones State Forest where we saw a flock of about 30 flying to the ground and we figured out they were going after dewberries.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)

BACHMAN'S SPARROW (Peucaea aestivalis)

We arrived into nice looking habitat north of Jasper and immediately heard a singing bird. It took us quite awhile to spot it singing from a pine branch where it remained for over 10 minutes. This is a subtly marked species with a beautiful song and a specialty of the southeast US.

SEASIDE SPARROW (Ammospiza maritima)

A local species of the coastal marshes we had nice scope views of singing individuals.

NELSON'S SPARROW (Ammospiza nelsoni)

It took some looking but we ended up with close views of this late-remaining species in the coastal marshes. This bird had a long way to go to reach its breeding ground.

SAVANNAH SPARROW (Passerculus sandwichensis)

A handful were seen along the roadsides at Anahuac.

SWAMP SPARROW (Melospiza georgiana)

One made a brief appearance in the marsh at Anahuac.

Field Guides Birding Tours
We had to search for appropriate habitat for breeding Prairie Warblers, but once we found it we quickly found a male on territory. Photo by guide John Coons.
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)

Surprisingly, we found two males at the edge of a flooded rice field on our final day as we headed back to the airport. This species winters in some numbers in the area but they are mostly gone by early April.

EASTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella magna)

Our best looks at this well-known bird were at Anahuac.

ORCHARD ORIOLE (Icterus spurius)

Good numbers were seen on some days.

BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula)

Many were feeding on the fruiting mulberries in the woods at High Island.

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Many were in the marshes.


COMMON GRACKLE (Quiscalus quiscula)

This species was often seen with Great-tailed Grackles.

BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus major)

This species is typically only found in fairly pristine reedy marshes found near the coast. Its dark eye and domed head help separate it from the more widespread Great-tailed Grackle.

GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)

Commonly seen through most of the areas we visited.

Parulidae (New World Warblers)

WORM-EATING WARBLER (Helmitheros vermivorum)

We had nice looks at a singing bird on the breeding grounds in the Big Thicket and another migrant at High Island.

LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia motacilla)

Both this species and the next were seen within a minute of our arrive at Boy Scout Woods at High Island making for a nice comparison. The long white stripe above the eye of the Louisiana showed well in contrast to the shorter creamy strip of the Northern Waterthrush.

NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis)

See above.

GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora chrysoptera)

A male was seen at Smith Woods on the day of our arrival and we then saw another come to the water drip at Boy Scout Woods a couple of days later. This is always one of the more sought after warblers along the Gulf Coast.

BLUE-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora cyanoptera)

We had nice views of one along the canopy walkway at Smith Woods.


We saw these most days of the trip and sometimes several in a day.

Field Guides Birding Tours
We saw a handful of Marbled Godwits in the tidal flats along the Bolivar Peninsula. Photo by participant Dan Blower.

PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (Protonotaria citrea)

We started with a singing individual right above us in the bottomland woods of the Big Thicket then saw them each day we were at High Island and Sabine Woods.

SWAINSON'S WARBLER (Limnothlypis swainsonii)

A breeding bird in full song gave us great looks in the Big Ticket area. This species is a southeast US specialty and very sought after by birders here.

TENNESSEE WARBLER (Leiothlypis peregrina)

We had a few encounters with this species.

KENTUCKY WARBLER (Geothlypis formosa)

We made an effort to see this species on its breeding grounds in the Big Thicket area and were quite successful where we had one singing next to the road. They can be hard to see as migrants along the coast as they often stay in dense vegetation. We did see a few more including one that came to bathe at a water drip at High Island.

COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas)

We had a few in the marshes here and there with more heard than seen.

HOODED WARBLER (Setophaga citrina)

On our first afternoon we ended up with great views of a singing bird in the Big Thicket. This was a rather common voice in the woodlands here. We also saw a couple more as migrants.

AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla)

A couple of the days we found a few of these. Both yellowish-tailed females and bright orange and black males were seen.

CERULEAN WARBLER (Setophaga cerulea)

A male showed nicely for us at Smith Woods after some of us saw it bathing at Boy Scout Woods.

NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana)

This is another species we saw and heard singing on the breeding grounds. This bird favors tall trees along streams where we had it quite well.


A colorful male with a bright orange breast showed well for us at Sabine Woods.

YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)

A few turned up later in the week.

CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER (Setophaga pensylvanica)

A male showed well along the canopy walkway at Smith Woods in the late afternoon when we encountered a handful of new birds.

BLACKPOLL WARBLER (Setophaga striata)

Another nice view of a male from the canopy walk. This is usually one of the later warbler species to arrive.

PINE WARBLER (Setophaga pinus)

Typically a bird that likes to be high in the taller pines, we had a quite low individual at Jones State Forest during our first morning in the field. We heard many of them this day and the next morning.

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (Setophaga coronata)

There were a surprising number of these still hanging around High Island. Normally they are one of the first warblers to be heading north.

Field Guides Birding Tours
The rookery is a fantastic place to see Roseate Spoonbills in full breeding colors. Photo by guide John Coons.

YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER (Setophaga dominica)

A pair of birds showed very well in the cypress trees at Steinhagen Lake. We saw another migrant the next day at High Island.

PRAIRIE WARBLER (Setophaga discolor)

Typically only seen on the breeding grounds on our trip we found a singing bird in a regenerating pine plantation in the Piney Woods on our first afternoon.


A few showed up at the end of the week.

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)

SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra)

These were seen in multiple numbers daily with our first on the breeding grounds at Jones State Forest.

SCARLET TANAGER (Piranga olivacea)

A good number of these stunners were found in the migration woods each day.

NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis)

Quite common, this is the mascot of High Island High School.

ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus)

We saw a handful feeding on mulberries during the week.

BLUE GROSBEAK (Passerina caerulea)

Our only one was a male in a weedy field at the edge of Smith Oaks.

INDIGO BUNTING (Passerina cyanea)

We saw a few with most sightings later in the week.

PAINTED BUNTING (Passerina ciris)

A beautiful male was coming to a small water puddle at Smith Woods on our final day there. This is always a favorite.

DICKCISSEL (Spiza americana)

On our last morning we found a few singing birds along the roadside in the rice field area west of Winnie.


SWAMP RABBIT (Sylvilagus aquaticus)

This local species was seen in the woods at High Island each day.

EASTERN GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus carolinensis)

FOX SQUIRREL (Sciurus niger)

We spotted a couple at Tyrrell Park with one waiting for a picnic at a table.

RED SQUIRREL (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)

We saw one running across a lawn south of Silsbee in the Piney Woods. This is a quite local species in East Texas.

Field Guides Birding Tours
A handful of wintering Nelson’s Sparrow usually linger into April in the coastal marshes, and we had nice looks at this cooperative individual. Photo by guide John Coons.

BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN (Tursiops truncatus)

I think I was the only one to see a dorsal fin at the mouth of Galveston Bay.

NORTHERN RACCOON (Procyon lotor)

Surprisingly, we saw about four of these well-known and nocturnal guys throughout the week.

Totals for the tour: 184 bird taxa and 6 mammal taxa