Aransas County and Rockport Texas Birding Resources

A WORD ABOUT THE TEXAS COASTAL BEND:  It is a unique place where nature remains unspoiled, outdoor activities abound, and the sun shines 285 days of the year. With an average temperature of 79 degrees year-round, Rockport (Aransas County) is one of the most unique birding hot spots in the world. Here you’ll find a pristine and preserved environment that is unsurpassed. Conservation efforts are ongoing and there are many groups that are totally committed and take their work very seriously to help preserve the beauty and natural wonder of the area. Located on the Live Oak Peninsula, visited year-round by birders, nature enthusiasts, fisherman, kayaking enthusiasts, and hikers/bikers from all over the world…it is truly a dream escape for “all things natural and beautiful”!

     

You can find just about anything you are looking for at the Texas Parks & Wildlife Site – Click the logo above!

OTHER IMPORTANT INFO: Rockport, Texas is located about 45 minutes east from Corpus Christi, Texas and about 20 minutes from Texas’ most popular vacation hot spot – Port Aransas, Texas (on Mustang Island). This area of the South Texas Coastal Bend is like no other found anywhere and is host to some of the best birding in the United States. Nearby communities like Port Aransas, Aransas Pass, Ingleside, Portland, Victoria, Bayside as well as Corpus Christi, have a large number of migratory birds that funnel through the area annually. A large array of resident bird species can be seen any given day as well.  Each year we also see an abundance and variety of Hummingbirds as they migrate from the north heading toward South American for winter; they typically arrive in early September.  Rockport hosts a Hummerbird Celebration each year to welcome these travelers to our area – guest speakers, field trips, group watches, vendors, food…it is both educational and fun for all ages so make plans to attend!  But the most notable bird that winters here is the endangered Whooping Cranes.  Aransas Bay Adventures specializes in Whooping Crane Photography Tours – short 45 minute boat ride to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.  These tours are offered from mid-Oct thru mid-April each year to see these spectacular, beautiful and ever-so-graceful birds.  Learn more about Whooping Cranes – HERE.

 

Other fun adventures include:  Birding/Rookery Island Tours, Port Aransas Lighthouse Tours, Dolphin Watches & Sunset Tours and families with children have a blast on our Fun Bay Fishing Trips. These tours are offered year-round!  They are fun for the whole family – always exciting and informative!

You will see more birds in one day by boat, than a week by land. Learn more here… 

rookery-birds   port-a-lighthouse

  

Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail (GTCBT): The GTCBT is a fantastic resource for birders and aids for the development of eco-tourism. There are 12 traisl – all within a day’s trip offered and they all take advantage of the existing Texas coastal highway system to create a recreational, educational, and economic opportunity for all those who visit or live near the trail. The highway system, which skirts the entire length of the Texas coast, offers a rare opportunity to link hundreds of sites, and attract birding tourists from around the world. Thousands of professional & amateur birders, photographers, and naturalists come from all over the US, Canada, Great Britain, China, Europe and South American to see our spectacular waterfowl, wading, and seashore birds. The GTCBT represents a delicate balance between the conservation needs along the Texas coast, and the demands and desires of the human population that resides there. Learn More Here!

Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail map and Great Texas Wildlife map are available by mail-in order formOrder a set of Great Texas Wildlife Trail maps today for $25, or get a single map of your choice for $5. For questions or large map orders, call (512) 389-8697. Sign up for e-mail updates from Texas Parks and Wildlife to get the latest news, information and events!

The Aransas National Wildlife Refuge – What to Know Before You Go:  If you love nature, then a visit to the close-by refuge is a must!  Interactive learning, movie presentations, learning center and seminars, life-like wildlife on display, speak with and ask questions to experts in their field…. plus they offer a self-guided driving tour.  The ANWR is a fantastic place to study wildlife and their habitats, plants and shoreline/marine life.  You never know what you might see – from Russian Boars to a rare glimpse of the Painted Bunting, to deer, fox, alligators, racoons, javelina and much more.  You may already know that the ANWR is the winter home to the endangered Whooping Cranes, but you can’t always see them from the land.  Book a Custom Whooping Crane Photography Tour with Aransas Bay Adventures to see them up close and personal!  They are truly amazing to view and photograph.  Ask the Captain about photography workshops held throughout the year too! 

Facilities are available for visitors:

1) Claude F. Lard Visitor Center: interpretive displays, exhibits, auditorium, programs, pamphlets, binoculars-on-loan, bathrooms, nature store, snacks, and drinks

2) Sixteen mile self-guided auto tour loop with wayside exhibits and pullouts

3) Seven walking trails with distances from .3 to 1.25 mi. and traversing a variety of habitats

4) Alligator & wildlife viewing area

5) Picnic area with bathrooms

6) Viewing decks at Hog Lake, Heron Flats Trail, and Jones Lake

7) 40-foot Observation Tower that winds above the trees and provides a panoramic vista of San Antonio Bay and the Intercoastal Waterway

8) Boardwalk with bathrooms nearby

9) Photography blind midway on Birding Trail 2

10) Tatton Unit (Hwy. 35 Roadside Rest Area) – ¼ mile walking trail with kiosk, observation deck, and exhibit panels

11) Youth Environmental Training Area – available to organized groups from schools, scouts, colleges, churches, etc. for overnight camping

Matagorda Island National Wildlife Refuge (MNWR) is located at the north-end of Matagorda Island and can only be accessed by private or commercial boat. Texas Parks and Wildlife manages the north end for recreational activities such as fishing, beach access, beach combing, bird watching, hunting and backpacking and facilities such as a kayak trail, Matagorda Island lighthouse, self-guided nature trail, and a viewing deck.  For more information about recreational opportunities at the north end of the island, call Texas Parks & Wildlife Rockport Regional Office at 361-790-0306. At the south end, the Refuge offers an Environmental Education (EE) Center, available by reservation only, and a exceptional nature trail. Call the Refuge at 361-286-3559 for group education opportunities at the MIEE Center.

What to See and When:  Visit this page to see all the birds that are in the area during different seasons of the year!  Resident birds include: Magnificent Frigate, Roseate Spoonbills, Wood Storks, Sandhill Cranes, American Avocets and American Oystercatchers, Egrets and Ibis, Little Blue Herons, Great Blue Herons, Brown Pelicans, White Pelicans, Curlews, Dowitchers, Whimbrels, Dunlins, Seagulls, Terns, Black Skimmers, Cormorants, Shearwaters, Golden-fronted Woodpeckers, Teal, Ducks (to include Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks), American Coots, Crested Caracaras, Golden Eyes, American Kestrels, Gannets, Grebes, Chachalacas, Harriers and Swallow Tails, Falcons, Kites, Jaegers, Rails, Plovers, Vireos, Flycatchers, Kingfishers, Warblers, Tanagers, Buntings, Golden Eagles, Owls, and the list goes on and on. Simply put, it’s spectacular for birding amateurs and professionals alike!

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Click – Aransas Pathways Map:  See the easy to use map to help identify the best places to bird, hike/bike and kayak in the area to include historical places.  A good amount of information is presented on their site and we use this with their kind permission as an important link for our viewers to review.  The Rockport-Fulton area is rich in natural resources  and Aransas Pathways helps visitors to find those historic sites, birding spots, water-based recreational opportunities and so much more.  Their dedication to the preservation of this area is extraordinary and their efforts allow us all to experience those natural resources and beauty for generations to come.

Click – Corpus Christi Birding Spots: Learn more about birding opportunities in Corpus Christi – a short 30 minute drive south of Rockport-Fulton.  Notable birding spots include: Blucher Park, Hans & Pat Suter Wildlife Refuge, Hazel Bazemore County Park, and the South Texas Botanical Garden & Nature Center.  Also just a short drive from Corpus Christi is the King Ranch where you’ll find so much to do and see – plan to make a day of it – filled with birds, history, nature and beauty!!  The Texas State Historical Association is a comprehensive (online and in print) encyclopedia of Texas geography & interesting places to visit to include history, and historical sites and people.  This site is chock-full of interesting facts and information – Click Here!

HELPFUL LINKS FOR THE TEXAS COASTAL PRESERVATION AND CONSERVATION – KEEPING OUR AREA PRISTINE FOR GENERATIONS TO COME!

Texas Colonial Waterbird Society

Friends of Aransas & Matagorda Island Refuges

Friends of Goose Island

Friends of Cedar Bayou

Texas Parks and Wildlife

US Wildlife and Fisheries

Texas Audubon Society

Coastal Bend Audubon Society

Canadian Wildlife Service

International Crane Foundation