Boy Scout Woods, Smith Oaks, The Rookery, and more…with birding expert Jon Dunn!
The accident of geology makes the Upper Texas Coast a beacon to weary neotropical migrants finishing a 10+ hour, nonstop flight across the Gulf of Mexico. From under an ancient sea, a salt dome emerged. After a few thousand years the dome reached just 38-feet above a pancake-flat coastal plain where it became covered with 20-30-foot oak trees, creating a vast canopy. This created High Island, which is now a refuge to weary Trans-Gulf migrants. This area provides wooded habitat that supplies food, water, and places to rest for these migrants.
A community of Texas birders of the Houston Audubon Society (HAS) created two large sanctuaries in the area – Boy Scout Woods and Smith Oaks. In time, High Island’s beacon also pulled in birders from around the world for a few weeks each year. One of the best features is a man-made reservoir, Clay Bottom Pond. Colonial waterbirds, who prefer islands for nesting to deter mammalian predators, found the U-shaped Island in the middle the pond perfect for a rookery. Nine species of heron, egret, spoonbill, ibis, cormorant, and Anhinga nest within inches of each other.
Several observation platforms are located alongside the rookery to facilitate viewing the annual dramedy of waterbird nesting activity including vibrant breeding plumage, mating hustle and nestlings. In addition, a new canopy walkway was recently opened. This allows eye level views of bird activity amongst the many stately oaks withing the sanctuary. Read more about High Island on the Houston Audubon website.
Expect the annual arrival of dozens of neotropic migrants along with local and resident waterfowl, raptors, seabirds, shorebirds, and passerines. April weather fronts can produce 30 or more species of songbirds in a single day!
Bring: water, lunch, sunscreen, bug spray