Fall Migrants include Birds and the People Who Love to Watch Them
Port Arthur’s positioning on the Central and Mississippi Flyway makes it a hotspot for fall migration. The Upper Texas Coast witnesses a steady flow of migratory birds beginning as early as July and lasting through November. 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 gets them going in fall – as birds head way, way south for the winter – and coming back each spring. Sabine Woods’ high oak mott positioning is the first land they see in spring and the know it’s time to stop for a bite.
Sea Rim State Park
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
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.
Here’s 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
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.