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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Tricolored Heronsy now you are probably used to my idea of "birding complexes," and few can compare to the region from High Island to Rockport along the Texas Coast. Concentrations of wintering birds can be found at Aransas, Anahuac and Brazoria National Wildlife Refuges. Aransas is best known as the wintering location of the migratory flock of endangered Whooping Cranes, which now number about 155. Your best chances of seeing Whoopers at close range is to take a boat trip through the intercoastal waterway through the refuge. Wading birds are common, including Reddish Egrets, and the refuge list has almost 400 species of birds on it!

Anahuac refuge, located southeast of Houston, is known for its diversity of rails and wading birds, but wintering Snow Geese and ducks provide the most dramatic observations. Southwest of Houston, Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge also provides a Snow Goose spectacle during winter, along with flocks of Sandhill Cranes, many ducks like Mottled Ducks, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Brown Pelicans and wading birds, including Roseate Spoonbills, Reddish Egrets and Wood Storks.

Thoughts of spring automatically bring High Island to mind, and if you are lucky, weather conditions will provide a migration fallout, and you will be treated to an amazing scene as warblers, buntings, tanagers, orioles, vireos, grosbeaks and other birds literally rain down on the trees of Smith Woods and Boy Scout Woods. Bolivar Peninsula, near Galveston, is also a good location to check for migrants, especially shorebirds, gulls, terns and birds of prey.

September is a big month in the Rockport-Fulton area, when thousands of birders attend the annual Hummer-Bird Festival. Nearby, Corpus Christi has one of the best hawkwatch locations in North America, where more than 300,000 Broad-winged Hawks are counted during fall migration, along with a variety of other raptors. Before you head for Texas, get information about the Texas Coastal Birding Trail, which now includes more than 100 birding locations. Air travel to the area is easiest via Houston, but Corpus Christi or San Antonio are other options.

For more information, contact Aransas NWR (512) 286-3559; Anahuac NWR (409) 267-3337; Brazoria NWR (409) 849-7771; High Island, Houston Audubon Society (713) 932-1639; and Rockport Chamber of Commerce (800) 826-6441.

View a Bird Checklist for this region:

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