Birdfinding Guides

ABA Birdfinding Guides

A Birder's Guide to the Texas Coast

A Birder's Guide to the Texas Coast

Mel Cooksey
Ron Weeks
Revised 2006
334 pages; paper (lay flat)
ISBN 1/878788-47-7
[Buy Book]

One of the world's premier birding destinations, the Texas coast is hojme to an amazing number of migrating and wintering birds, as well as many "specialty" resident and nesting species. The habitat diversity ranges from the Pineywoods to the Gulf prairies, from the coastal wetlands to the South Texas subtropics. The spring migration of neotropical birds along the boast is one of North America's most remarkable birding spectacles. And the region is host to some the nation's largest congregations of herons, egrets, rails, shorebirds, gulls, and terns at any season.

The long-awaited revision by Mel Cooksey and Ron Weeks, will be an indispensable as your field guide. There are Species Accounts for over 170 Texas specialties, and more than 70 new sites, for a total of over 200 birding stops, as well as bar-graphs for 388 regularly occurring Texas Coast species.

Table of Contents for a Birder's Guide to the Texas Coast




Topography and Habitat Groups

Birding Seasons

Texas Ornithological Society

Texas Bird Records Committee

Other Texas Birding Organizations

Useful Publications

Internet Resources

Texas Coast Birding Festival and Conventions

The Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail

The Great Texas Birding Classic

How to Use This Guide


Where to Stay

Birding Behavior


Chapter 1, Houston and Vicinity


Jesse H. Jones Park, W.G. Jones State Forest, Edith L. Moore Sanctuary Bear Creek Park, Katy Prairie, Houston Arboretum and Memorial Park, Russ Pitman Park, Hermann Park and Rice University, Brazos Bend State Park, Armand Bayou Nature Center, Challenger Seven Memorial Park, San Jacinto Battleground Historic Site, Sheldon Lake State Park, Eisenhower and Deussen Parks


Chapter 2, Interstate 10 East to Beaumont


Baytown Nature Center, J.J. Mayes Wildlife Trace, Trinity River Mouth Waterbird Rookery, Wallisville Lake Visitor Center, Lake Charlotte, White Memorial Park, Trinity NWR, Dayton and Liberty, Nome and South China Rice Fields


Chapter 3, The Big Thicket and Beyond


Big Thicket National Preserve (Visitor Center, Kirby Trail, Sundew Trail), Gore Store Road, Martin Dies, Jr. State Park, Jasper Fish Hatchery, Angelina National Forest (Boykin Springs), Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary, Village Creek State Park


Chapter 4, Beaumont and Sabine Pass


Tyrrell Park, Cattail Marsh, Pleasure Island, Sabine Pass, Texas Point NWR, TOS Sabine Woods Sanctuary, Sea Rim State Park, McFaddin NWR, SH-73 and Taylor’s Bayou


Chapter 5, Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge and Smith Point


Anahuac NWR and East Bay Bayou Tract, Smith Point, Candy Cain Abshier WMA


Chapter 6, High Island


HAS Boy Scout Woods Sanctuary, HAS Eubanks Woods Sanctuary, HAS Smith Oaks Sanctuary, TOS Mary Edna Crawford Sanctuary, HAS S.E. Gast Red Bay Sanctuary, TOS Hooks Woods Sanctuary


Chapter 7, Bolivar Peninsula


Rollover Pass, Yacht Basin Road, Tuna Road, Bob’s Road, HAS Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary, Horseshoe Marsh, Fort Travis Seashore Park, Bolivar Ferry


Chapter 8, Galveston and Texas City


Corps Woods, Big Reef Nature Park, East Beach, Offat’s Bayou, Pelican Island, Amoco Settling Ponds, Swan Lake, Texas City Dike, Eight Mile Road, Sportsman Road, Settegast Road, Lafitte’s Cave Nature Preserve, Galveston Island State Park, HAS Dos Vacas Muertas Sanctuary, San Luis Pass


Chapter 9, Freeport and Vicinity (Brazosport)


Follett’s Island, Christmas Bay, Brazoria NWR, Quintana Neotropical Bird Sanctuary, “New” Xeriscape Park, Quintana Jetty, Quintana County Park, Quintana Fishing Pier, Bryan Beach, Freeport Storm Levee, Freeport Wetlands, Freeport Municipal Golf Course, Peach Point WMA, Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, Lake Jackson Wilderness Park, San Bernard NWR


Chapter 10, Calhoun and Jackson Counties


Keller Bay, Formosa-Tejano Wetlands Project, Lake Texana State Park, Bennett Park, Port Lavaca Lighthouse Beach Park and Bird Sanctuary, Alamo Beach, Magnolia Beach, Magic Ridge, Matagorda Island State Park, Port O’Connor, Seadrift, Guadalupe Delta WMA, Tivoli, San Antonio River


Chapter 11, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge


Chapter 12, Aransas and San Patricio Counties


Holiday Beach, Goose Island State Park, Copano  Bay, Rockport, Rockport Demo Bird Garden and Wetlands Pond, North Fulton Beach Road, Rockport Beach Park, Rockport Harbor, Whooping Crane Boat Tours, Aransas Bay, Connie Hagar Cottages Sanctuary, West of Rockport, Cape Valero, Bayside, Ingleside area, Aransas Pass, Port Aransas Causeway


Chapter 13, Mustang and North Padre Islands


Port Aransas, Port Aransas Jetties, San Jose Island, Joan and Scott Holt Paradise Pond, Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, Port Aransas Wetlands Park Nature Overlook, Mustang Island State Park, Molly Beattie Coastal Habitat Community, North Padre Island National Seashore, Packery Channel County Park, JFK Causeway


Chapter 14, Corpus Christi


Flour Bluff, Corpus Christi Botanical Gardens, Elliott Landfill, Hans and Pat Suter Wildlife Park, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, Downtown Corpus Christi, Blucher Park, Rose Hill Cemetery, Indian Point Pier, Sunset Lake Park, Fred Jones Nature Sanctuary, Tule Lake, Hilltop Community Center, Pollywog Pond, Hazel Bazemore County Park


Chapter 15, Lake Corpus Christi and Brushlands


City of Corpus Christi Wildlife Sanctuary, Corpus Christi Lake State Recreation Area, Wesley Seale Dam, Pernitas Point, FM-534, Dinero, Choke Canyon State Park, Sandia Area, Fort Lipantitlan, San Patricio


Chapter 16, Kleberg and Kenedy Counties and US-77


Bishop, Santa Gertrudis Creek, King Ranch Headquarters, Texas A&M University – Kingsville, Chamberlain and Santa Gertrudis Cemeteries, Dick Kleberg Park, Santa Gertrudis Creek Bird Sanctuary, Kleberg County Grasslands, Drum Point, Kaufer-Hubert Memorial Park, Mittag’s Pond, Laguna Salada, Rivera, US-285 (Hawk Alley), Sarita, US-77, Sarita Rest Area, King Ranch Tours


Chapter 17, Willacy and Cameron Counties


SH-186, Port Mansfield, Santa Monica Wetlands, Rio Hondo, Mont Meta Cemetery, Laguna Atascosa NWR, Aplomado Falcon, Adolph Thomae, Jr. County Park, Las Palomas WMA – Arroyo Colorado Unit



Chapter 18, Abundance and Status of Texas Coast Birds (Bar Graphs)


Chapter 19, Specialties of the Texas Coast


Chapter 20, Other Vertebrates of the Texas Coast


Chapter 21, Butterflies of the Texas Coast


Chapter 22, Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Texas Coast






Texas Bird Records Committee Bird Report Form


ABA Code of Birding Ethics



Birds listed in the Birder’s Guide to the Texas Coast




Acadian Flycatcher
Alder Flycatcher
American Avocet
American Bittern
American Coot
American Crow
American Golden-Plover
American Goldfinch
American Kestrel
American Oystercatcher
American Pipit
American Redstart
American Robin
American White Pelican
American Wigeon
American Woodcock
Anna's Hummingbird

Baird's Sandpiper
Bald Eagle
Baltimore Oriole
Bank Swallow
Barn Owl
Barn Swallow
Barred Owl
Bay-breasted Warbler
Belted Kingfisher
Black Rail
Black Skimmer
Black Tern
Black Vulture
Black-and-white Warbler
Black-bellied Plover
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
Black-billed Cuckoo
Blackbirds, Orioles, & Allies
Blackburnian Warbler
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Black-necked Stilt
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blue Grosbeak
Blue Jay
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Blue-headed Vireo
Blue-winged Teal
Blue-winged Warbler
Boat-tailed Grackle
Bonaparte's Gull
Brewer's Blackbird
"Brewster's" Warbler
Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Broad-winged Hawk
Bronzed Cowbird
Brown Creeper
Brown Pelican
Brown Thrasher
Brown-headed Cowbird
Brown-headed Nuthatch
Buff-bellied Hummingbird
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Bullock's Oriole
Burrowing Owl

Canada Goose
Canada Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Cardinals & Allies
Carolina Chickadee
Carolina Wren
Caspian Tern
Cattle Egret
Cedar Waxwing
Cerulean Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Chickadees & Titmice
Chimney Swift
Chipping Sparrow
Cinnamon Teal
Clapper Rail
Cliff Swallow
Common Gallinule
Common Goldeneye
Common Grackle
Common Ground-Dove
Common Loon
Common Nighthawk
Common Tern
Common Yellowthroat
Cooper's Hawk
Couch's Kingbird
Crested Caracara
Crows & Jays
Cuckoos & Allies




Dark-eyed Junco
Double-crested Cormorant
Downy Woodpecker
Ducks, Geese & Swans

Eared Grebe
Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Kingbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Screech-Owl
Eastern Towhee
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Estrildid Finches
Eurasian Collared-Dove
European Starling

Falcons & Caracaras
Ferruginous Hawk
Field Sparrow
Forster's Tern
Fox Sparrow
Franklin's Gull
Fulvous Whistling-Duck


H & I

K & L

Golden-crowned Kinglet
Golden-winged Warbler
Grasshopper Sparrow
Gray Catbird
Gray-cheeked Thrush
Great Blue Heron
Great Crested Flycatcher
Great Egret
Great Horned Owl
Great Kiskadee
Greater Roadrunner
Greater Scaup
Greater White-fronted Goose
Greater Yellowlegs
Great-tailed Grackle
Green Heron
Green-winged Teal
Groove-billed Ani
Gull-billed Tern
Gulls, Terns, & Skimmers

Hairy Woodpecker
Harris's Hawk
Harris's Sparrow
Hawks & Allies
Henslow's Sparrow
Hermit Thrush
Hermit Warbler
Herons, Egrets & Bitterns
Herring Gull
Hooded Merganser
Hooded Warbler
Horned Lark
House Finch
House Sparrow
House Wren
Hudsonian Godwit


Ibises & Spoonbills
Inca Dove
Indigo Bunting

Kentucky Warbler
King Rail
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Lark Sparrow
Laughing Gull
Le Conte's Sparrow
Least Bittern
Least Flycatcher
Least Grebe
Least Sandpiper
Least Tern
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Lesser Scaup
Lesser Yellowlegs
Lincoln's Sparrow
Little Blue Heron
Loggerhead Shrike
Long-billed Curlew
Long-billed Dowitcher
Louisiana Waterthrush

M & N

O & P

Q & R

Magnificent Frigatebird
Magnolia Warbler
Marbled Godwit
Marsh Wren
Mississippi Kite
Mockingbirds & Thrashers
Monk Parakeet
Mottled Duck
Mourning Dove
Mourning Warbler


Nashville Warbler
Nelson's Sparrow
Neotropic Cormorant
New World Sparrows
New World Vultures
Nighthawks & Nightjars
Northern Bobwhite
Northern Cardinal
Northern Flicker
Northern Gannet
Northern Harrier
Northern Mockingbird
Northern Parula
Northern Pintail
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Northern Shoveler
Northern Waterthrush
Nuthatches & Creepers

Old Wood Sparrows
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Orange Bishop
Orange-crowned Warbler
Orchard Oriole

Painted Bunting
Palm Warbler
Pectoral Sandpiper
Peregrine Falcon
Philadelphia Vireo
Pied-billed Grebe
Pigeons & Doves
Pileated Woodpecker
Pine Siskin
Pine Warbler
Piping Plover
Plovers & Lapwings
Pomarine Jaeger
Prairie Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler
Purple Gallinule
Purple Martin


Red Knot
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-breasted Merganser
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Red-cockaded Woodpecker
Reddish Egret
Red-eyed Vireo
Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-vented Bulbul
Red-winged Blackbird
Ring-billed Gull
Ringed Turtle-Dove
Ring-necked Duck
Rock Pigeon
Rock Wren
Roseate Spoonbill
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Royal Tern
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruddy Duck
Ruddy Turnstone
Rufous Hummingbird
Rusty Blackbird




Sandhill Crane
Sandpipers, Phalaropes & Allies
Sandwich Tern
Savannah Sparrow
Scaly-breasted Munia
Scarlet Tanager
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Seaside Sparrow
Sedge Wren
Semipalmated Plover
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Short-billed Dowitcher
Short-eared Owl
Skuas and Jaegers
Snow Goose
Snowy Egret
Snowy Plover
Solitary Sandpiper
Song Sparrow
Spotted Sandpiper
Sprague's Pipit
Starlings & Mynas
Stilt Sandpiper
Stilts & Avocets
Summer Tanager
Swainson's Hawk
Swainson's Thrush
Swainson's Warbler
Swallows & Martins
Swallow-tailed Kite
Swamp Sparrow

Tennessee Warbler
Tree Swallow
Tricolored Heron
Tufted Titmouse
Turkey Vulture
Tyrant Flycatchers

Upland Sandpiper

Vermilion Flycatcher
Vesper Sparrow
Virginia Rail
Wagtails & Pipits
Warbling Vireo
Western Kingbird
Western Sandpiper
White Ibis
White-crowned Sparrow
White-eyed Vireo
White-faced Ibis
White-rumped Sandpiper
White-tailed Hawk
White-tailed Kite
White-throated Sparrow
White-winged Dove
Willow Flycatcher
Wilson's Phalarope
Wilson's Plover
Wilson's Snipe
Wilson's Warbler
Winter Wren
Wood Duck
Wood Stork
Wood Thrush
Worm-eating Warbler

Yellow Rail
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Yellow-breasted Chat
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow-throated Vireo
Yellow-throated Warbler