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High Island’s Famous Sites #3

April 18 @ 6:30 am - 3:30 pm
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Boy Scout Woods, Smith Oaks, The Rookery, and more!

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 beacon 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 Spring. One of the best features is Claybottom Pond, a man-made reservoir on the north side of the island. 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. The High Island rookery offers birders a close view of the annual dramedy of waterbird nesting activity including vibrant breeding plumage, mating hustle and nestlings. Read more about High Island on the Houston Audubon website.

This trip will visit three HAS and Texas Ornithological Society sites at High Island. 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! If time permits, we will stop in several places along Hwy 87 for the return to Galveston. These shore and marshy areas around Rollover Pass and Port Bolivar can produce interesting water fowl, herons, egrets, marsh and shore birds. Like High Island itself this trip is a must for FeatherFest attendees.

Trips are led by local skilled birders with many years of migration birding experience.

Bring water, snacks, lunch, bug spray
Bus & Walk

Photo: Rose Poole


Date: April 18
Time: 6:30 am - 3:30 pm
Cost: $90
Event Category:


Leader Name: Greg Whittaker
Leader Name: Gay York
Leader Name: Pam Smolen


Skill Level All
Activity Level Moderate
Transportation Bus from FeatherFest HQ