The birding in southern Texas is fantastic on pretty much all fronts. Birders flock to High Island and other sites on the gulf shore during April to see thousands of beautiful migrant songbirds.
Southern Texas is also fantastic for waterbirds and I take advantage of that fact just about every chance I get because it’s hard to pass up such an abundance of great photo opportunities!
It also happens to be one of the most interesting parts of the country for raptors. Thousands of Swainson’s, Broad-winged, and Sharp-shinned Hawks migrate through southern Texas along with just about the entire population of Mississippi Kites and many Merlins and Peregrine Falcons.
The resident raptor species, though, are what most visiting birders come to see. One of the more common and colorful raptors is the Crested Caracara. Despite its scavenging behavior, it’s hard to guess that this striking bird is actually a type of neotropical falcon.
We also have the beautiful Aplomado Falcon. This rare species used to occur in many parts of southern and western Texas along with parts of southern New Mexico and Arizona but disappeared from most of the country during the 1930s. Happily, this grassland species has been successfully reintroduced into southeastern Texas.
The Harris’s Hawk is yet another striking raptor that frequents the brushlands of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. This clever hawk will sometimes hunt in groups to catch rabbits!
The grasslands of southeastern Texas are the only place where the White-tailed Hawk cn be seen in the USA. It’s a beautiful hawk that soars high above the coastal plains and is sometimes seen in numbers at brush fires as they catch small animals feeling the flames.
One of the easiest raptors to see is the Osprey. Just head to the coast and you can’t miss this dramatic, big, beautiful bird!