A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Texas Coast Migration Spectacle II 2024

April 20-26, 2024 with John Coons guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
At Sabine Woods and High Island we saw many species coming to the water drips to bathe and rehydrate after a long flight. Here at Sabine Woods, Paul Demkovich captured this Tennessee Warbler, Yellow Warbler, and Indigo Bunting as they refreshed.

We had a very nice week of birding in East Texas and along the Upper Texas Coast. In this area in the spring, not every day is a big migration day, as weather conditions can change quickly causing birds to drop out of the sky or pass right over without stopping if pushed by southerly winds. On our first evening in Houston, a front passed through that dumped a lot of rain. The next morning there were puddles of water but no more precipitation, which was good news as we birded the Piney Woods and Big Thicket for breeding birds. I had some trepidation that we were going to miss the best day of the spring on the coast on Sunday, but we timed it just right.

But first.... in the Piney Woods, we headed to Jones State Forest where we had dynamite views of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers along with Brown-headed Nuthatches, Pine Warbler, and Red-headed Woodpecker. Driving east towards the Big Thicket, we found several species of locally breeding warblers that were in full song. A brilliant Prothonotary Warbler was followed by Northern Parula, then great looks at the normally difficult Swainson's Warbler amongst the shadows of tall trees. Hooded and Yellow-throated warblers, and a scope view of a Prairie Warbler capped off the day. The next morning found us out early where we walked up to a Bachman's Sparrow that stayed on the same branch singing away for several minutes. One couldn't have seen it any better. We then headed to the coast with a stop for some marsh birds and Upland Sandpipers along the way.

Now, back to our perfect timing. We arrived at High Island to find a lot of migrants at two of the woodlots. There were good numbers of thrushes that we saw working on the ground, but we hit a couple of nice flocks of migrant warblers. Worm-eating, Hooded, Chestnut-sided, Yellow, Blackpoll, Canada, and Yellow-rumped warblers were all seen, as well as two quite uncommon species in the High Island area, Cape May and Black-throated Blue warblers. It was a great way to start. The following day, with weather conditions still looking good (north winds), we headed to Sabine Pass near the Louisiana border. We ended up spending the entire day here, as new birds were being seen throughout the day. Kentucky Warbler, American Redstarts, Ovenbird, Bay-breasted, Tennessee, Nashville, Blackburnian, Black-throated Green warblers and more were all seen coming to bathe at the handful of water drips that have been set up. Of particular note were a beautiful highly sought-after female Cerulean Warbler and a quite rare "Lawrence's" Warbler, the much less commonly found hybrid of a Blue-winged and Golden-winged Warbler. These were all seen between seeing Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Yellow-throated and Red-eyed vireos, Veery, Gray-cheeked, Swainson's, and Wood thrushes, lots of tanagers and orioles, as well as a wonderful perched Chuck-wills-widow. We were pretty worn out from raising our bins hundreds of times during the day.

After so many passerine migrants our first two days the flood of birds in the woodlots slowed to more of a trickle. One of the great things about the Upper Texas Coast is there are a variety of habitats nearby where there is always something happening. We headed to the marshes, hedgerows, and pastures between High Island and Winnie and enjoyed Least Bitterns fishing along the edge of a canal, both King Rail and Clapper rails showing very well at the edge of a road, Crested Caracaras, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Sedge Wrens singing in the low shrubs, and a locally very rare Chestnut-collared Longspur that had been lingering along a road edge for more than a week. We also visited the rookery at Smith Woods at High Island, where we had tremendous looks at nesting Roseate Spoonbills, Great, Snowy and Western Cattle egrets, and Tricolored Herons in bright breeding plumage with some incredible colors on their soft parts (bill and feet) that are only present for a short time in the breeding season. We also got great views of a singing Painted Bunting.

We also ventured to the tip of the Bolivar Peninsula, and along the way at famous Bolivar Flats we had nice encounters with all of the "banded" plovers (Killdeer, Semipalmated, Wilson's, Piping, and Snowy), avocets and stilts, American Oystercatcher, Marbled Godwits with the hundreds of other shorebirds present, Reddish Egrets "dancing" in the shallows, and a plethora of terns, including beautiful adult Black Terns, Sandwich, Royal, tiny Least Terns, and Black Skimmers.

On our final morning, we caught up with American Bittern and Little Blue Herons and our final Prothonotary Warbler before heading to the airport. Besides the birds, we certainly got to experience the culture of East Texas, and the belt-loosening cuisine where there is no such thing as a small portion. It was great fun sharing this trip with all of you and I hope to see you again in the future.


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 a handful of these rather odd looking ducks on a few of our days.

FULVOUS WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna bicolor)

Our first ones were at Tyrrell Park near Beaumont.

WOOD DUCK (Aix sponsa) [*]

We heard one flying through the woods at Jones State Forest on our first morning.

BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors)

This was the most commonly seen duck we encountered.

MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos)

We saw a few on a pond on our first day.

MOTTLED DUCK (Anas fulvigula)

Our first was seen at Cattail Marsh at Beaumont then we saw a few more on the marshy ponds along the Bolivar Peninsula and at Anahuac NWR.

Field Guides Birding Tours
On our first morning we traveled north to the Piney Woods where we had incredible views of the quite rare Red-cockaded Woodpecker at the far western edge of its range (photo by Paul Demkovich).
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]

EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) [I]

These are now fairly common around the towns.

WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)

We heard and saw a few at Sabine Woods.

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)

Seen daily.

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO (Coccyzus americanus)

We had nice looks at a few individuals on our first couple of days along the Coast.

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)

COMMON NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles minor)

CHUCK-WILL'S-WIDOW (Antrostomus carolinensis)

We had great views of one perched in a tree, nearly at eye level, at Sabine Woods.

Apodidae (Swifts)

CHIMNEY SWIFT (Chaetura pelagica)

A few were flying about at Smith Woods on our visits there.

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus colubris)

We saw a few but not a lot during the week.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

KING RAIL (Rallus elegans)

We had great looks at one on the road right in front of us at Anahuac NWR.

CLAPPER RAIL (GULF COAST) (Rallus crepitans saturatus)

A pair decided to cross the road in the marsh near Sabine Pass, then we saw another close one on the Bolivar Peninsula.

SORA (Porzana carolina)

We heard a few before seeing two in a marsh near the end of the Bolivar Peninsula.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Paul Demkovich was in the right place when this subtly beautiful Blackpoll Warbler appeared at a water drip.

COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata)

Great views of our first at Catttail Marsh.

AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)

PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinica)

Several were sneaking through the reeds at Cattail Marsh near Beaumont.

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)

We saw these a handful of times in rice fields and marshes the last several days of the trip.

AMERICAN AVOCET (Recurvirostra americana)

A real beauty. We watched a good-sized group feeding in the tidal shallows at Bolivar Flats that were all moving in unison.

Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)

AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus palliatus)

It took some looking but we spotted a single bird along the Bolivar Peninsula.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)

We saw many, with some in breeding plumage, mostly along the beaches.

AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER (Pluvialis dominica)

Our first was way out in a rice field but we had closer views at Fort Travis.

KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)

These were quite common.

SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus)

We saw many along the beach at Sea Rim State Park and again at Bolivar Flats.

PIPING PLOVER (Charadrius melodus)

A fair number of these threatened small plovers were seen, with about 6-8 along the beach at Sea Rim and another 4-6 at Bolivar Flats.

WILSON'S PLOVER (Anarhynchus wilsonia)

A few were seen along the beach at Sea Rim State Park.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Flocks of Dickcissels move through the rice fields and pastures just inland from the coast. We found a group of them along a county road near High Island (photo by Paul Demkovich).

SNOWY PLOVER (Anarhynchus nivosus)

This is usually one of the more uncommon "beach" shorebirds in the area. We ended up getting nice looks at Bolivar Flats.

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

UPLAND SANDPIPER (Bartramia longicauda)

We found about four individuals at the Sod Farm, then a few more in fields later in the week.

WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus)

This large shorebird showed well with a few close views.

HUDSONIAN GODWIT (Limosa haemastica)

Our only ones were a good ways out in a somewhat wet rice field.

MARBLED GODWIT (Limosa fedoa)

After a fly-by or two we saw a handful along the Bolivar Peninsula.

SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus griseus)

This species was far outnumbered by the following.

LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus scolopaceus)

There were good numbers of dowitchers in some areas that were just too far out to ID, but most of the ones close enough to see well and hear were Long-billeds.

SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)

We saw a few, with one on the sandy beach at Sea Rim in a seemingly odd location.

SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Tringa solitaria)

We ended up seeing a few, usually at the edge of roadside marshes. We saw three individuals rather close to each other which made us question its common name.

LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)

Good numbers were seen a a few locations.

WILLET (Tringa semipalmata)

Both local birds in breeding plumage and migrants that still were mostly in winter plumage were seen.

GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)

Nice views with good comparisons to Lesser Yellowlegs which outnumbered the Greaters.

Field Guides Birding Tours
In the tidal flats and backwaters of Galveston Bay, we saw a few Reddish Egrets and Paul Demkovich nailed this one just after it got breakfast.

RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)

Many were in nice breeding plumage. There were at least 160 individuals on the grassy lawn at Fort Travis which is about as many as I have ever seen together in one place.

STILT SANDPIPER (Calidris himantopus)

We found a couple in breeding plumage in a wet field on our last morning that were moving through the clumps of vegetation making a prolonged look difficult.

SANDERLING (Calidris alba)

There were hundreds seen on the beaches at Sea Rim State Park and at Bolivar Flats.

DUNLIN (Calidris alpina)

We saw a wide range of plumages with some in nice breeding regalia with full black-bellies.

LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)

Most of our sightings were on the beach. The lack of wet rice fields hurt us with finding small peeps during the week.

PECTORAL SANDPIPER (Calidris melanotos)

Not many. We found one in a pond on the Bolivar Peninsula then a few more on our last morning.


Only a few were on the beach at Bolivar Flats. Again, the lack of wet rice fields really hurt us in finding bigger numbers.

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla)

This was the gull du jour for the week.

RING-BILLED GULL (Larus delawarensis)

We only saw a couple.

HERRING GULL (AMERICAN) (Larus argentatus smithsonianus)

BLACK SKIMMER (Rynchops niger)

We had good views of a flock of about 80 individuals at Bolivar Flats.

LEAST TERN (Sternula antillarum)

Many of these tiny terns were on the beach at both Sea Rim and Bolivar Flats.

Field Guides Birding Tours
We saw many American Avocets (not just this one) at Bolivar Flats that were moving in unison like one large organism as they fed in the shallow water (photo by Paul Demkovich).

CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia)

We saw about four individuals along our beach drive at Sea Rim.

BLACK TERN (Chlidonias niger)

This used to be rather rare bird at this time of year on the Upper Texas Coast but they have become much more reliable. We saw about 15 at Bolivar Flats.

FORSTER'S TERN (Sterna forsteri)

Lots of these were on the beach and the salt marshes where they breed.

COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo)

A handful were seen that had not yet headed north.

SANDWICH TERN (Thalasseus sandvicensis)

One of the more handsome terns; we saw several that seemed to be paired up.

ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus)

Large numbers of this large tern were seen in all of the coastal areas we visited.

Anhingidae (Anhingas)

ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga)

We scoped one that was on a nest at the rookery at Smith Woods.

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Nannopterum auritum)

Our only one was seen along the lake near Jasper in East Texas.

NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Nannopterum brasilianum)

This is the commonly seen cormorant along the Gulf Coast.

Pelecanidae (Pelicans)

AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

There were about three of these huge birds on the sandbar at Bolivar Flats.

BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis)

We saw good numbers whenever we got near the coast.

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

AMERICAN BITTERN (Botaurus lentiginosus)

On our last morning we flushed one from the roadside edge of a fairly large crawfish pond.

Field Guides Birding Tours
This male American Redstart showed well at Sabine Woods during our big migration day (photo by Paul Demkovich).

LEAST BITTERN (Ixobrychus exilis)

We enjoyed lengthy views of one hunting small fish along the edge of the marsh at Anahuac NWR. This is usually a quite secretive species.

YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERON (Nyctanassa violacea)

Our first was in full breeding attire with fancy head plumes as it hunted for crawfish at Tyrrell Park near Beaumont.

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)

We only saw a couple of this species.

LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)

This species is more of a fresh water specialist. We saw one at Smith Woods and couple more in the crawfish farm pond on our last day.

TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor)

There were good numbers at the nesting rookery at Smith Woods. It seems like these birds are never satisfied with their nests and are always looking for one more stick. They were gorgeous in their breeding plumage.

REDDISH EGRET (Egretta rufescens)

We had nice views of four or five individuals along the Bolivar Peninsula. We saw at least one "dancing" in the water to attract small fish.

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

There were a lot of these, with many seen at the nesting rookery showing the fine white plumes.

GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)

Our first ones were seen fishing the edge of the pond at Sabine Woods.


Again, we saw many of these in full breeding colors with light brown caps and backs.

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

Several of the nests in the breeding colony at Smith Woods had chicks that were being fed. Most had full plumes that at one time adorned the hats of women in the eastern US and Europe.

GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)

Good numbers of this well known species were seen as well.

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus)

We saw a few but commented on the overall lack of numbers of this species.

Field Guides Birding Tours
In the Piney Woods of East Texas we spent several minutes watching this Bachman’s Sparrow singing from a small shrub just in front of us. This species is mostly restricted to tall pine areas with a grassy understory of the southeast U.S. (photo by John Coons).

WHITE-FACED IBIS (Plegadis chihi)

Most of the marshes had at least a few individuals.

ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja)

This popular bird showed well at the nesting rookery at Smith Woods. The bright-colored pink, red, and orange plumage of those breeding birds were in contrast to the dull pink individuals we saw feeding in some of the marshes.

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)

Seen daily.

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

Also in good numbers daily.

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)

We saw a few here and there along the coast.

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucurus)

This open country specialist was seen along the entrance road to Bolivar Flats.

NORTHERN HARRIER (Circus hudsonius)

We saw a few of these flying low over the pastures and marshes, the last of the wintering birds that had not yet headed back north.

BALD EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

A young bird flew over us near Lake Sam Rayburn in East Texas.

BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus)

We saw our only one fly through the woods along the Trinity River on our first morning.

RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon) [*]

Picidae (Woodpeckers)

RED-HEADED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)

This great looking woodpecker gave us nice scope views at Jones State Forest on our first morning.

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes carolinus)

A few were seen in East Texas and again at Sabine Woods.

DOWNY WOODPECKER (Dryobates pubescens)

Field Guides Birding Tours
We saw several Bay-breasted Warblers our first two days on the Texas Coast, this is often one of the later warblers to arrive in good numbers (photo by Paul Demkovich).

RED-COCKADED WOODPECKER (Dryobates borealis)

We had fantastic views of this southeast US specialty on our first morning. One of them was at eye level just a few meters away as it flicked off the bark of a pine.

PILEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus pileatus)

After hearing one at Jones State Forest we saw a couple at Lake Sam Rayburn. Always a thrill to see this large woodpecker.

NORTHERN FLICKER (YELLOW-SHAFTED) (Colaptes auratus auratus)

We saw one along the road near Kountze, Texas. This is not a common bird in the areas we visit on this trip.

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara plancus)

We saw a few in the open country south of Winnie and along the Bolivar Peninsula.

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus virens)

We saw and heard a handful during the week.

ACADIAN FLYCATCHER (Empidonax virescens)

This bird breeds along the lowland forested areas we visited and we saw them on the first two days of the trip. We then saw them as migrants at Sabine Woods.


EASTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus tyrannus)

Good numbers were seen the last few days along the Bolivar Peninsula and at Anahuac NWR.


One of our first was seen rather close to us on the fence near Steinhagen Lake. We then ended up seeing these daily along the coast, mostly in open pasture areas.

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

WHITE-EYED VIREO (Vireo griseus)

This was a commonly heard bird in the thickets of East Texas. We had our best views at the water drip at Sabine Woods.

YELLOW-THROATED VIREO (Vireo flavifrons)

Our best views were those coming to the water drip at Sabine Woods.

BLUE-HEADED VIREO (Vireo solitarius)

We saw our only one soon after arriving at High Island.

RED-EYED VIREO (Vireo olivaceus)

We saw a whole bunch of these during the big migrant day at Sabine Woods as well as many the day before at High Island.

Laniidae (Shrikes)

LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE (Lanius ludovicianus)

We had nice looks at the one on the sign at the big grassy park on the Bolivar Peninsula.

Field Guides Birding Tours
We watched many Roseate Spoonbills flying to and from their nests at the Smith Woods rookery at High Island and nearly all of these were in full breeding colors (photo by Paul Demkovich).
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

BLUE JAY (Cyanocitta cristata)

Seen daily. You may have tired of me of saying I think this is the prettiest jay in North America.

AMERICAN CROW (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

We only saw these inland in East Texas.

FISH CROW (Corvus ossifragus)

We saw a few when we neared the coast on our first day and a couple more around Sabine Pass. This is still pretty much a coastal bird in Texas though it is spreading inland.

Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)

CAROLINA CHICKADEE (Poecile carolinensis)

We saw these on our first morning in East Texas.

TUFTED TITMOUSE (Baeolophus bicolor)

We heard a handful in the Big Thicket area and had one just overhead on our frst morning at Jones State Forest.

Alaudidae (Larks)

HORNED LARK (Eremophila alpestris)

We spotted one walking about in the sandy vegetation on the beach at Bolivar Flats.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor)

Good numbers of these were seen in some places.

PURPLE MARTIN (Progne subis)

We saw our first at the man-made nesting gourds at Cattail Marsh then more here and there during the week.

NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)

A few were flying around the open water at Cattail Marsh.

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)

We saw many and found several tending to nests.

CLIFF SWALLOW (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)

This species was nesting under the bigger bridges in the Piney Woods and then under the visitor's center at Anahuac NWR.

Regulidae (Kinglets)

RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET (Corthylio calendula)

At least two late-lingering birds from the winter were still at Sabine Woods.

Sittidae (Nuthatches)


Nice views were obtained of this great little specialty of the pine forests of the southeast US.

Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)

BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea) [*]

Field Guides Birding Tours
One of the more uncommon shorebirds along the Gulf Coast are Snowy Plovers. We had great views of a pair of these little guys at Bolivar Flats (photo by Paul Demkovich).
Troglodytidae (Wrens)

SEDGE WREN (Cistothorus stellaris)

A singing bird popped up for us in the roadside vegetation near Anahuac NWR.

MARSH WREN (Cistothorus palustris)

We heard a lot of these in the cattail and bulrush marshes.

CAROLINA WREN (Thryothorus ludovicianus)

A commonly heard bird throughout the trip; we finally saw one at Smith Woods.

Sturnidae (Starlings)

EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) [I]

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)

GRAY CATBIRD (Dumetella carolinensis)

These were quite common our days in the woods at High Island and Sabine Pass.

BROWN THRASHER (Toxostoma rufum)

We had a scope view of one singing from the top of a small tree in the small woodlot at Anahuac NWR.

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)

Seen daily and often.

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

EASTERN BLUEBIRD (Sialia sialis)

We had both a male and female at a nest box on our first morning. Bluebirds are loved by all.

VEERY (Catharus fuscescens)

We ended up with some nice views of this nice looking small thrush at Sabine Woods and again at High Island.

GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH (Catharus minimus)

This was one of the early birds we saw on the ground when we entered Boy Scout Woods at High Island.

SWAINSON'S THRUSH (Catharus ustulatus)

We saw a good number during the week. A few were beginning to sing.

WOOD THRUSH (Hylocichla mustelina)

One of the best looking thrushes and with a great song.

AMERICAN ROBIN (Turdus migratorius)

It was somewhat of a surprise to see one at Jones State Forest on our first morning.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

Field Guides Birding Tours
We had great luck in seeing this Swainson’s Warblers in the shadows of a bottomland woods in the Big Thicket area of East Texas. This is another uncommonly seen specialty of the southeast U.S. (photo by Paul Demkovich).
Calcariidae (Longspurs and Snow Buntings)


This was quite a surprise. Normally a bird of central and west Texas as well as the Great Plains in winter, one had been regularly seen along Yacht Basin Road on the Bolivar Peninsula for a couple of weeks. We were fortunate to find it and watched it in the grass from a ways off before it ended up hopping to within five feet of us as it picked at seeds amongst the vegetation.

Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)

BACHMAN'S SPARROW (Peucaea aestivalis)

SEASIDE SPARROW (Ammospiza maritima)

Our first one at Sabine Pass gave us great views in the morning light.

NELSON'S SPARROW (Ammospiza nelsoni)

We ended up seeing about four individuals in a saltmarsh on the Bolivar Peninsula. This is a wintering species that would still have a long way to go to get to its nearest breeding area.

SAVANNAH SPARROW (Passerculus sandwichensis)

These were quite common along the road edges at Anahuac NWR.

Icteriidae (Yellow-breasted Chat)


We had about three individuals singing at various places on our first morning but we never got a good look.

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

EASTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella magna)

A few were seen atop fence posts at Anahuac, in the area rice fields, and again on the Bolivar Peninsula.

ORCHARD ORIOLE (Icterus spurius)

A fair number of these showed well during the week.

BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula)

We saw many with a large number encountered at Sabine Woods.

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus)

We saw these almost everywhere there was water.


These were in almost all habitats.

COMMON GRACKLE (Quiscalus quiscula)

BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus major)

This species was pretty much confined to the coastal prairie habitat near the Gulf areas and Galveston Bay.

GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)

These were all over.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Tricolored Herons were quite conspicuous, with many sitting on eggs, at the High Island rookery (photo by Paul Demkovich).
Parulidae (New World Warblers)

OVENBIRD (Seiurus aurocapilla)

We had nice looks at this thrush-like bird walking about on the ground at High Island and again at Sabine Woods.

WORM-EATING WARBLER (Helmitheros vermivorum)

One of my favorites, we had a great look at one splashing in the water drip at Boy Scout Woods.

NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis)

We saw a fair number of these working the edges of the ponds. We counted at least six individuals at the pond at Sabine Woods.

LAWRENCE'S WARBLER (Vermivora chrysoptera x cyanoptera)

This hybrid of a Golden-winged and Blue-winged Warbler had been around at Sabine Woods for a few days and was seen off and on but mostly off. We saw it come into the water drip where it bathed for a minute or more. This form is much more rarely encountered than the "Brewsters" form. It is not seen annually on the Upper Texas Coast and draws a lot of attention when it turns up. Although it is not a full species it was one of the highlight birds of the trip.

BLUE-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora cyanoptera)

After our first didn't give us great looks, we watched one bathing at the water drip with a couple of Hooded Warblers.


A fair number were seen working nuthatch-like in the migration woods.

PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (Protonotaria citrea)

This species seems like it can light up a dark forest with its brilliant yellow plumage. We saw our first on its breeding ground in East Texas, then a surprising number that were still migrating through the coastal areas.

SWAINSON'S WARBLER (Limnothlypis swainsonii)

Another highlight of the trip was seeing this often difficult to see species singing from a perch in the bottomland forest in East Texas.

TENNESSEE WARBLER (Leiothlypis peregrina)

We estimated we saw 60 individuals at Sabine Woods on our second day on the coast. Then they were gone.

NASHVILLE WARBLER (Leiothlypis ruficapilla)

A quite late-lingering individual was bathing at one of the water drips at Sabine Woods.

KENTUCKY WARBLER (Geothlypis formosa)

This is another skulker that showed well at a water drip on our big day at Sabine Woods.

COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas)

This warbler with its familiar song was seen each day in the woodlots.

HOODED WARBLER (Setophaga citrina)

Our first were on the breeding grounds, then we saw a fair number of migrants in the migrant traps at High Island and Sabine Woods.

AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla)

Another warbler with bright colors that showed well.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Kentucky Warblers are often difficult to see well as they skulk around in the understory but this one came out to play (photo by Paul Demkovich).

CAPE MAY WARBLER (Setophaga tigrina)

This is a rare but annual migrant along the upper Texas Coast. Most of the populations of this bird migrate north through Florida and the eastern Gulf of Mexico area. We saw a female-plumaged bird at Hooks Woods on our first afternoon at High Island.

CERULEAN WARBLER (Setophaga cerulea)

A female came to a water drip at Sabine Woods.

NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana)

We saw this warbler on its breeding ground, with one of our first wrestling with a caterpillar on the ground.

BAY-BREASTED WARBLER (Setophaga castanea)

This is one of the furthest north nesting of the forest warblers. We had a few great looks at gorgeous males.


Always a much sought after warbler on the Texas Coast, our best look was a male near one of the drips at Sabine Woods.

YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)

Several were seen; a quite familiar bird to most.

CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER (Setophaga pensylvanica)

Dana saw our first, then we caught up with it at Anahuac NWR.

BLACKPOLL WARBLER (Setophaga striata)

We had several nice views of this usually late arriving migrant.

BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER (Setophaga caerulescens)

Like the Cape May Warbler, this is another species where most migrate north through the Caribbean and Florida. We hung around Hooks Woods and were rewarded with a nicely plumaged male.

PINE WARBLER (Setophaga pinus)

There were a good number of these singing in the Piney Woods of East Texas. Usually a treetop species, we saw one drop to the ground quite close to us to gather nesting material.

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (Setophaga coronata)

We saw two of these widespread warblers on our bigger migration days. This species has usually already migrated north by the time we do this trip.

YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER (Setophaga dominica)

This early arriving warbler was seen on its breeding grounds in East Texas just north of Kountze and again near Steinhagen Lake near Jasper.

PRAIRIE WARBLER (Setophaga discolor)

We had nice views of a singing individual on our first afternoon in East Texas. Then we saw a migrant at Sabine Woods which is unusual this time of year as they have mostly passed through by early-April.


We saw a few at Sabine Woods on our fallout day.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Cerulean Warbler is one of the more sought after warblers in the spring on the Texas Coast. This female gave us great views at Sabine Woods (photo by Paul Demkovich).

CANADA WARBLER (Cardellina canadensis)

This is a rather uncommon species throughout its range so it was great to see it so well at Sabine Woods where it came in to bathe at one of the water drips.

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)

SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra)

This colorful species was seen in good numbers just about everyday of the trip.

SCARLET TANAGER (Piranga olivacea)

With all the Summer Tanagers that were around, it was surprising we only saw a few Scarlet Tanagers during the week. This one is a real dazzler.

NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis)

Many were seen each day.

ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus)

Good numbers were seen on the first two days along the coast with fewer each day the rest of the week.

BLUE GROSBEAK (Passerina caerulea)

We had several good views during the week of this quite sexually dimorphic species.

INDIGO BUNTING (Passerina cyanea)

We saw a lot of these at Sabine Woods on the big migration day with fewer the other days.

PAINTED BUNTING (Passerina ciris)

We enjoyed nice looks at a singing male at Boy Scout Woods on our final full day. This may have been the last bird we saw before leaving High Island.

DICKCISSEL (Spiza americana)

This species is one of the later migrants to pass through the area. We had scope views of birds in a small flock at Anahuac NWR.


EASTERN COTTONTAIL (Sylvilagus floridanus)

SWAMP RABBIT (Sylvilagus aquaticus)

We saw this southeast US species most days in the woods at High Island and Sabine Woods.

EASTERN GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus carolinensis)

We saw a handful in the various woodlots during the week.

FOX SQUIRREL (Sciurus niger)

Our only ones were at Tyrrell Park near Beaumont.

Totals for the tour: 185 bird taxa and 4 mammal taxa