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TEXAS

Birdquest's Texas birding tour explores a classic North American birding destination. Texas is one of the richest birding areas in the United States and is home to a good number of North American endemics and other sought-after species. Our Texas tour features the most comprehensive itinerary available and produces an extraordinary bird list, including numerous specialities. Whooping Crane, Green Parakeet, Red-crowned Parrot, Lucifer Hummingbird, Black-capped Vireo, and both Golden-cheeked and Colima Warblers are just a few of the great birds that are likely on this special itinerary.

Saturday 6th April — Sunday 21st April 2019
(16 days)


Leaders: Mike Watson and a second Birdquest leader

Group Size Limit: 11

Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and comfortable accommodations

A visit to Texas in the spring provides the opportunity to find some wonderful specialities, such as this Black-capped Vireo, with the chance of witnessing some fantastic migration spectacles (Pete Morris)

A visit to Texas in the spring provides the opportunity to find some wonderful specialities, such as this Black-capped Vireo, with the chance of witnessing some fantastic migration spectacles (Pete Morris)

Positioned at the ornithological crossroads of North America, the Lone Star State boasts the richest avifauna north of Mexico. Texas’s attractions are further enhanced by comfortable accommodations, excellent roads and delightfully easy birding conditions.

This is a unique tour of Texas that focuses on the many North American endemics and other special birds that can be found in this rich part of the continent, taking in the last of the wintering Whooping Cranes, both Black-capped Vireo and Golden-cheeked Warbler on the Edwards Plateau and finally both Colima Warbler and Lucifer Hummingbird in the far west of the state, to mention just a few of its many attractions.

From its eastern to its western extremities Texas spans more than 800 miles (about 1300km), with a land surface area of over 268,000 square miles (over 696,000 square kms) making it by far the largest of the Lower 48 states in the USA and larger than many European countries.

Ornithologically this famous state boasts a diversity which is second to none in North America. Here, in spring, one can see a very large number of species, both eastern and western, in a relatively short period of time. Our itinerary is carefully crafted to concentrate on Texan specialities including the last of the wintering Whooping Cranes.

We will begin our springtime transect of Texas in the southernmost part of the state. Here, in the lower Rio Grande Valley, is one of Texas’s most exciting birding areas with a rich avifauna including a number of ‘Mexican’ specialities and a wide range of habitats from coastal wetlands to riverine woodland and semi-desert. Here we can look for Green Parakeet , Red-crowned Parrot, Black-crested Titmouse and Long-billed Thrasher (four species endemic to southeast Texas and northeast Mexico), as well as many other exciting birds including the noisy Plain Chachalaca, Gray Hawk, the miniscule Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Ringed and Green Kingfishers, the spectacular Green Jay, Clay-colored Robin and Audubon’s and Altamira Orioles.

After crossing the vast King Ranch with its many raptors, we shall reach the huge Aransas refuge where we will see the rare and magnificent Whooping Crane as well as many other waterbirds.

Next we will explore the eastern part of the state. The marshes and mud flats of the Upper Texas Coast teem with a wide variety of shorebirds in the spring as well as large numbers of herons, ibises and egrets, pelicans and cormorants, gulls, terns and skimmers and a sprinkling of lingering ducks. However, it is for the number and variety of it’s migrant land birds that this area is justly famous. The woods at High Island attract an extraordinary variety of migrant passerines ever spring, making them one of the premier migration hot spots anywhere on the continent. Here, thrushes, vireos, tanagers, orioles and grosbeaks compete for one’s attention with an amazing array of American wood-warblers, all resplendent in their dazzling breeding plumage. Shy cuckoos skulk in the bushes, raptors migrate overhead and several similar species of tyrant-flycatchers test our identification skills. The pine forests of eastern Texas hold such specialities as Red-cockaded Woodpecker and Bachman’s Sparrow, while along the coast Fish Crows reach the limit of their distribution.

From this flat landscape we will travel to the elevated expanse of limestone west of San Antonio known as the Edward’s Plateau, or Texas Hill Country. Here the display of roadside flowers in the spring can be breathtaking and the area is noted for its charming scenery. Our main avian targets on the plateau are the Black-capped Vireo and Golden-cheeked Warbler, both of which are classified as threatened, with very restricted breeding ranges, as well as the localized Gray Vireo. The plateau has many other ornithological attractions from the Cave Swallows which breed along the crystal clear rivers to the Yellow-throated Warblers, Northern Parulas and Summer Tanagers which nest in the impressive cedars along their banks. Male Painted Buntings flaunt their dazzling colours and Vermilion Flycatchers engage in aerial display flights. Spectacular Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are common and easily seen here. As well as a fair sprinkling of migrant landbirds we should also see several wintering species, including Clay-colored Sparrow.

Moving still further west, we will spend some time amidst the wild scenery of the deserts and rugged mountain ranges of far western Texas. Here a number of avian specialities can be found, including the restricted-range Montezuma Quail, Lucifer Hummingbird and Colima Warbler. Several other hummingbird species can be found in these mountains, including Black-chinned and the spectacular Blue-throated. Among the other specialities of this area are Mexican Jay, Crissal Thrasher, Lucy’s Warbler and Black-chinned Sparrow. Many other desert species occur in this region, ranging from Scaled Quail and Greater Roadrunner to Varied Bunting and Pyrrhuloxia.

All in all there is nothing in North America to compare with the sheer avian diversity of ‘The Lone Star State’. Texas really is bigger and better!

Birdquest has operated tours to Texas since 1982.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/motels are of good or medium standard throughout. Road transport is by minibus/passenger van.

Walking: The walking effort is easy almost throughout, but there will be one optional fairly strenuous hike.

Climate: It will vary between relatively cool and cloudy to fairly hot (or even hot) and sunny, with the possibility of some light rain.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are quite good.

Prices are provisional

Tour Price: £3750, €4270, $4910 San Antonio/San Antonio. Single Room Supplement: £660, €752, $865. Deposit: £450, €540, $590.

Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, water, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.

Base prices for this tour are in US Dollars. The exchange rates applied at the time of costing were: £1 = $1.310 and €1 = $1.150.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

The gorgeous Golden-cheeked Warbler is another Texas special (Herbert Stärker)

The gorgeous Golden-cheeked Warbler is another Texas special (Herbert Stärker)

Attractive migrants such as Wood Thrush add to the variety of species (Herbert Stärker)

Attractive migrants such as Wood Thrush add to the variety of species (Herbert Stärker)

Wetland species include striking Roseate Spoonbills (Herbert Stärker)

Wetland species include striking Roseate Spoonbills (Herbert Stärker)

... and a good variety of shorebirds, which include smart American Avocets (Herbert Stärker)

... and a good variety of shorebirds, which include smart American Avocets (Herbert Stärker)

In drier country, the charismatic Greater Roadrunner is always a favourite (Herbert Stärker)

In drier country, the charismatic Greater Roadrunner is always a favourite (Herbert Stärker)

... and we'll find noisy Cactus Wrens (Herbert Stärker)

... and we'll find noisy Cactus Wrens (Herbert Stärker)

A variety of migrants include White-eyed Vireo (Herbert Stärker)

A variety of migrants include White-eyed Vireo (Herbert Stärker)

... and a superb variety of American Wood Warblers including Chestnut-sided Warbler (Herbert Stärker)

... and a superb variety of American Wood Warblers including Chestnut-sided Warbler (Herbert Stärker)

... the striking American Redstart (Herbert Stärker)

... the striking American Redstart (Herbert Stärker)

... the subtle Ovenbird (Herbert Stärker)

... the subtle Ovenbird (Herbert Stärker)

... Hooded Warbler (Herbert Stärker)

... Hooded Warbler (Herbert Stärker)

... Kentucky Warbler (Herbert Stärker)

... Kentucky Warbler (Herbert Stärker)

... Common Yellowthroat (Herbert Stärker)

... Common Yellowthroat (Herbert Stärker)

... and the stripey Worm-eating Warbler (Herbert Stärker)

... and the stripey Worm-eating Warbler (Herbert Stärker)

Vivid colour is provided by the tanagers, which include Scarlet Tanager (Herbert Stärker)

Vivid colour is provided by the tanagers, which include Scarlet Tanager (Herbert Stärker)

... the almost flourescent Summer Tanager (Herbert Stärker)

... the almost flourescent Summer Tanager (Herbert Stärker)

... and the brilliant Western Tanager (Herbert Stärker)

... and the brilliant Western Tanager (Herbert Stärker)

More widespread North American species such as Blue Jay are also present (Herbert Stärker)

More widespread North American species such as Blue Jay are also present (Herbert Stärker)

Gorgeous Painted Buntings (Herbert Stärker)

Gorgeous Painted Buntings (Herbert Stärker)

... and Varied Buntings always cause quite a stir! (Herbert Stärker)

... and Varied Buntings always cause quite a stir! (Herbert Stärker)

Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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