‘Spectacular’ Fall Migration in Port Arthur, TX

hummingbird near pink and yellow flowers

Excited Birders Migrate to Port Arthur for Fall

Welcome birders! You’d want a break, too, if you flew in from Canada!

Fall migration birding on the upper Texas coast can be pretty spectacular and a bonus is some birds could be easier to spot, Steve Mayes of the Golden Triangle Audubon Society, reports. This authority knows Port Arthur’s Sabine Woods is vibrant with warblers in spring migration because it’s the first land they spot heading in from that long flight from South America. We get them coming the other way in the fall, thanks to our coastal spot between both the Central and Mississippi Flyways.  Many species hug the coastline on their way to South and Central America for the winter. Here’s a look at our popular sites and what you’ll see when you get there:

Sabine Woods

bird watching at Sabine Woods

Sabine Woods gets them going in fall – as birds head way, way south for the winter – and coming back each spring. The Woods’ high oak mott positioning is the first land they see in spring and they know it’s time to stop for a bite.

Sea Rim State Park

two birds at the beach

Sea Rim State Park’s 5 miles of natural beach, down the road from Sabine Woods, lets birds and birders share shore and boardwalks. Enjoy action along the Gulf of Mexico and make sure to spend time along the quieter marsh unit. Rent a kayak for the best views and a workout.

McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge

McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge, a wintering area for ducks and geese, has a documented 285 species having been observed.

J.D. Murphree Wildlife Area

two ducks in the marsh

The J.D. Murphree Wildlife Area is a diverse wetland along the Texas Chenier Plain and Texas Point National wildlife refuge extends along the Gulf of Mexico shore land with tidal flats, shallow freshwater lakes and marsh influenced by daily tides.

Make sure you bird Pleasure Island, overlooking Sabine Lake, which stretches all the way to Louisiana. And, come back for spring migration. Those birds can’t wait to get back to Port Arthur.

What to look for, when:

Late August through Mid-October – Southbound Fall Migrants

  • Late November through early April – Waterfowl, geese, Sandhill Cranes (they leave about February), sparrows,  hawks and other raptors. Look for wintering landbirds such as Yellow-rumped Warblers and Blue-headed Vireos
  • Some birds on shore in summer include Least Tern and Wilson’s Plover
  • Other shorebirds from late July to about late April – Piping Plover, Black-bellied Plover, Snowy Plover and American Avocets
  • Local breeding species include Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Eastern Kingbirds, Yellow-billed Cuckoos and Painted Buntings
  • Late March through Mid-May – Northbound spring neotropical migrants
  • Roseate Spoonbills and two of the three egret species are here and visible year round. Cattle Egret are fewer in numbers in December through March

         Bird Notes:

We thank the Golden Triangle Audubon Society for maintaining internationally-famous Sabine Woods. When you stay in Port Arthur for birding, enjoy some surrounding areas including:

  • Cattail Marsh, Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge (fall, winter and early spring)
  • Bolivar Flats (all year)
  • Big Thicket area – Especially Hardin County (early summer, December-January)
  • West Jefferson County (November through February)
  • This information is from Dr. John Whittle of the Golden Triangle Audubon Society.

Birds love our beaches, wetland marshes, woods, gardens and prairies. Make this your year to experience the Upper Texas Gulf Coast’s miles of shoreline that falls in both the Central and Mississippi Flyways. #birdportarthur

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