Updated: Apr 12
Spring bird migration occurs each year from March1st to June 15th for the Texas Gulf Coast and the Houston area is rated number 4 on the list of Gulf Coast locations to catch this beautiful phenomenon. In a study done by Kyle Horton, of the Cornell Lab, it was found that “the Texas Coast had five times more migrant birds detected than any other area in the Gulf Coast.” “Peak Beak Week” is the last week of April and the perfect location to pull out the binoculars and birding scopes is the Baytown Nature Center.
The Baytown Nature Center (BNC), located at 6213 Bayway Drive, is a 500-acre peninsula that consists of hardwood uplands, high quality tidal marsh, and freshwater wetlands. This unique site is listed on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, providing habitat for 317 species of resident and neo-tropical migrant birds. The American Bird Conservancy designated the BNC as a nationally important bird area. Birding blinds dot the BNC as well as a few other birding hotspots that including seating.
Want to get the best look at the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds that will converge on the BNC early March to late April (the highest numbers occur the first 2 weeks of March)? Just sit on one of the benches in the Butterfly Gardens and get ready to watch the birds dance from flower to flower. The BNC is along the breeding range for these beautiful birds.
Bird Alert: with the recent February hard freeze along the Southern US, it is not yet known how the hummingbird populations have been affected. There will be less nectar sources and locals are encouraged to hang nectar feeders!
April 19 to May 7 is historically the busiest window for spring passage among a group of Neotropical migratory songbird species including American Redstarts, Canada and Cape May Warblers, and Baltimore and Bullock’s Orioles.
Check out this short list of other birds you might spot this spring at the BNC:
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher: Common April migrant
Purple Martin: mid-February – early March
Yellow-billed Cuckoo: mid-April – mid-May
Black-necked Stilt: April – May
Least Tern: April – May
Green heron: April – May
Black Skimmer: Late April – May
Great Crested Flycatcher: April – May
American Golden-Plover: early March – late April
Chimney Swift: late March – late April
Northern Parula: early March – mid-April
Black-throated Green Warbler: late March – early May
Yellow-throated Warbler: early March – mid-April
Black-and-white Warbler: early March – late April
Hudsonian Godwit: mid-April – beginning of May
Buff-breasted Sandpiper: mid-April – beginning of May
Olive-sided Flycatcher: early – late May
Eastern Wood-Pewee: late April – mid-May
“Traill’s” Flycatcher (Alder/Willow): May
Magnolia Warbler: late April – mid-May
Blackburnian Warbler: late April – mid-May
Golden-winged Warbler: mid-April – beginning of May
Cerulean Warbler: mid-April – beginning of May
Bay-breasted Warbler: late April – mid-May
The Baytown Nature Center isn’t just a birders oasis during peak migration periods. The BNC hosts Audubon Bird Counts year round and is home to just a few of these beautiful resident species: Great Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Great Egret, Roseate Spoonbills. For a more comprehensive list of bird species spotted at the BNC, visit this eBird list.
Also, don't forget to participate in our Baytown Birding Challenge while strolling the Baytown Nature Center pathways or hanging out in the birding blinds. Click here to check out the challenge!
Links for this blog:
Eschliman, Carley, and Pat Leonard. “Gulf Coast Birders: Get Ready for 2 Billion Birds.” All About Birds, The Cornell Lab, 31 Mar. 2019, www.allaboutbirds.org/news/gulf-coast-birders-get-ready-for-2-billion-birds/.
“Migratory Routes of Selected Species.” TPWD: Bird Migration, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/birding/migration/routes/.
Shackelford, Clifford E., et al. Migration and the Migratory Birds of Texas: Who They Are and Where They Are Going. Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, 2005, tpwd.texas.gov/publications/pwdpubs/media/pwd_bk_w7000_0511.pdf.