Yes, our climate is perfect for birding! The combination of location, relatively mild climate, and diverse habitat make the Brazosport Area home and haven to more than 300 bird species. Prairies, hardwood forests, rivers, bayous, marshes, lakes, bays and Gulf of Mexico shoreline characterize this coastal plain. Brazosport is in the central Flyway that includes a coastal and trans-oceanic bird migration path. The Freeport Christmas Bird Count consistently ranks #1 in the nation. Don't forget your sunscreen and bug repellant when visiting these sites.
Brazosport Nature Trail
This trail traverses river bottom woodland on the banks of Oyster Creek where more than two hundred species of vegetation and abundant wildlife can be explored. Located at the Center for Arts & Sciences complex and closed on Mondays. 979-265-7661. www.bcfas.org
Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge
An extensive 43,000-acre refuge with a varied habitat of salt grass prairies, mud flats, fresh and salt-water marshes and lakes, and salt cedars. An auto tour, boardwalks, and discovery center make this a favorite among birders. This is one of the finest waterfowl viewing sites on the Texas coast. During the winter geese, ducks and sandhill cranes fill the ponds and sloughs. Open daily from sunrise to sunset. 979-964-4011 www.fws.gov/refuge/brazoria/
Dow Centennial Bottomlands
A 198-acre riparian oak forest along the Brazos River in Lake Jackson, home to native woodland birds and migrants in spring and fall. The two-mile nature trail is behind MacLean Park. 979-297-4533
Freeport Wetlands Observation Deck
Hundreds of ducks and geese make this 50-acre fresh water marsh home during the winter. This site is ideal for wildlife viewing year-round.
Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail
The Brazosport Area has 15 sites on the Upper Texas Coast portion of this trail. Each location has a brown GTCBT sign along with a site number that corresponds with the GTCBT map to aid birders. 888-900-2577 for a map.
Gulf Coast Bird Observatory
This research and education facility coordinates data on migrating and resident avifauna. The observatory sits on 34 acres of Columbia Bottomland forest on Highway 332 in Lake Jackson. Self-guided nature trails are open Monday - Saturday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. 979-480-0999 The GCBO hosts FREE monthly bird-banding programs. www.gcbo.org
Hudson Woods Unit
A heavily wooded 1,500-acre bottomland hardwood forest with two oxbow lakes where native woodland species and waterfowl can be seen year round. 979-964-4011 http://www.refugefriends.org/history-HWU.htm
Justin Hurst WMA
Nature trails provide visitors with the opportunity to explore an oak-hackberry mote and adjacent grasslands on this 11,000-acre area that stretches to the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway. Great place for spotting raptors, waterfowl, and spring migrants. 979-233-8729 www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/hunt/wma/find_a_wma/list/?id=41
San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge
This refuge is an excellent area to bird-on-your-own in small groups or alone. There is a unique blend of coastal marsh, prairies, potholes, fresh water lakes and oak forests that make this site special. Auto-tours, hiking trails and boardwalks are great for spotting migrating warblers, cinnamon teals, purple gallinules, and western rarities on this 45,000-acre site. Other wildlife that make the refuge their home are bobcats, river otters, alligators, turtles and more. 979-964-4011
Sea Center Texas
A marine development, aquarium, and education center in Lake Jackson, Sea Center can produce 20 million fingerlings annually, primarily red drum and spotted sea trout, for release into Texas coastal waters. In addition to great aquariums, the complex also has a saltwater marsh demonstration boardwalk and a freshwater marsh that is ideal for birding. Closed on Mondays. 979-292-0100 www.tpwd.texas.gov/seacenter
Northern gannets may be seen in the winter from the jetties and mergansers drift into the calm waters to feed. Falcons can be seen along the beach during migration. Brown pelicans, gulls, terns and shorebirds congregate along Bluewater Highway. 979-233-1531 www.surfsidetx.org
A 477-acre riparian oak forest lying along the Brazos River and Buffalo Camp Bayou in Lake Jackson. These evergreen bottomlands remain lush throughout the winter and a number of neotropical migrants stay each winter. Four-mile hiking trail. 979-297-4533 www.lakejackson-tx.gov/Facilities/Facility/Details/Wilderness-Park-16
Annual Birding Events
This annual birding event is the latter weeks of the spring migration when the most spectacular fallouts occur at one of the area wildlife refuges. Programs feature a night critters tour, several free hands-on activities for children, as well as birding tours and activities geared for beginning, and advanced birders. Seminar and keynote speakers are top notch and topics include general migration information as well as appreciation of the natural world. 866-403-5829 www.migrationcelebration.org
Xtreme Hummingbird Xtravaganza
Watch thumb-sized hummers dart in and out of nectar producing flowers or feeders every Saturday in September at the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory. Enjoy hummer banding demonstrations, lectures on hummingbird migration, identification, gardening, a Kids Korner and other nature activities. 979-480-0999 www.gcbo.org
Dow Skimmer Colony
Each year black skimmers have utilized a vacant parking lot that has been reserved for their use at the Dow Chemical Company's Freeport site. 1500 or more adult skimmers return each year and hundreds of young are hatched. Tours are conducted on a select Saturday in June. 979-238-4649.
The Great Texas Birding Classic
Each year during spring migration, the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory and Texas Parks and Wildlife sponsor the Great Texas Birding Classic. During this weeklong competitive tournament, birders from around the globe converge on the Texas coast for fun and friendly team birding. Birders of all ages and skill are invited to participate for one day or all week of the contest. Winning teams direct cash awards to approved wildlife or habitat conservation projects. 979-480-0999 www.gcbo.org