Birding in Texas: Thousands flock to view more than 300 species of birds

Bird is a verb… and birding attracts people from all over the world.  Especially this time of year.

In Texas, spring gives way to color on the ground and in the rookery.

A cacophony of chirping...before the fog lifts, birds have begun their say. And birders, some with binoculars, are watching.

What is birding, anyway? We asked Pete Deichman, Land Director of Houston Audubon.

“It’s quite simple, it’s just observing and identifying birds in their natural habitats,” he said.

Deichman says birding in southeast Texas is pretty extravagant. Some call it a hobby, but it can get pretty competitive.

Conroe resident Ann Kuhn says she’s been birding for about 15-20 years.

“Everybody is here for a different reason, some are here just to check a bird off their list. Some people just like to sit and watch. I like to just see what I can find.”

Smith Oaks Bird Sanctuary is approximately 177 acres of fields, woods, and wetlands. It is part of Houston Audubon, whicih owns 4,100 acres throughout 11 counties in southeast Texas.

“We are managing this habitat here, so they have a place to stop, rest, refuel, and continue on to their breeding grounds,” Deichman said.

Deichman said you can see an upwards of 300 different bird species, from great egrets, snowy egrets, roseat spoonbills, and others.

“Roseate spoonbills are a favorite of most, just because of their vibrant color, unique,” he said. “That is a Neotropic cormorant with nesting materials…”

For many, their freedom is inspiring, and this boardwalk provides a birds-eye view.

“Some of these birds are traveling thousands of miles every year to get to the places they need to get to.” Deichman added.

And one of the largest migratory corridors in North America is right here in Texas, Deichman says. It is positional on the Gulf of Mexico, between two main flyaways: the Mississippi flyaway and the Central flyaway.

“Our sanctuary system here in High Island (at the Bolivar Peninsula), we get visitors from 48 different states and an upwards of 20 different countries.” he said.

Susan Atkinson, who flew in from Canada, told KPRC 2 she’s just here for the birds. While watching, she is crowdsourcing information.

“Nesting birds, bird nests and bird young are important to record for the purposes of citizens science,” she said.

When is the best time to go birding? Right now is the best time, and in the fall during the months of September and October.

About the Authors:

A graduate of the University of Houston-Downtown, Ana moved to H-Town from sunny southern California in 2015. In 2020, she joined the KPRC 2 digital team as an intern. Ana is a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur, a catmom of 2, and an aquarium enthusiast. In her spare time, she's an avid video gamer and loves to travel.