Wildlife lovers from 39 countries and all 50 states flock to the Aransas Bay area each year to see an incredible variety of spectacular wading birds, warbling migratory songbirds and furtive hummingbirds. The interfaces among the Gulf, land masses and marshes serve as a nursery for 400 species of birds, including one that can only be seen in the wild here.
There are so many reasons to recommend birding in the area, says Mark Uhr, broker at Rockport Properties, but these are some highlights:
- The Whooping Crane – The population of this magnificent bird dipped to just 16 in 1941, before protections were put in place. Graceful flyers with long wing spans and a brash, trumpeting call, whooping cranes are North America’s tallest and one of its most endangered birds. A ground count at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge found 431 whooping cranes last year, which can be seen from October to April.
2. Wading Birds – The reddish egret opens its wings into an avian umbrella and dances around the shallow water stirring up fish to spear. Other egret species glide gracefully around the area, as do several heron and ibis species, all big enough for children to notice. The bright pink roseate spoonbills, which congregate in groups, are also easy to spy. Waders are best seen from the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the margins of San Antonio Bay and from the 40-foot-high Jones Lake viewing platform.
- Ducks galore – Also visible from the platform and along the Heron Flats Trail are a wide variety of ducks, grebes and shorebirds, as well as non-avian wildlife such as alligators, javelinas and armadillos. Javelinas, also known as peccaries, are pig-like mammals that feast on prickly pear cacti.
4. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds – The Rockport-Fulton Hummerbird Festival, held this year from September 13-16, celebrates the return of the tiny migratory hummingbird. This year’s festivities will be particularly emotional because the 2017 celebration was canceled in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which stripped away much of the vegetation eaten by the hummingbirds. Laura Bonneau, visitor services manager at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, says the population of hummingbirds did not appear to have been affected because residents placed feeders throughout the area.
5. Migratory Warblers – Oh, the flitting little songbirds that fill the air with their sweet sounds! Harder to spot but easy to hear, black and white warblers, northern perulas, brightly-colored tanagers and orioles and vireos of all sorts dot the landscape. The blackburnian warbler dons its flame-orange breeding colors in the spring. Their songs make any outing a meditative experience.
6. So Many Options for Viewing – Head down to Port Aransas where the bay meets the Gulf for some phenomenal bird watching. Meander right up the road to the Linda Castro Nature Sanctuary for a wide variety of flora and fauna. Head over to Rockport Beach Park, a nesting area for black skimmers, laughing gulls, killdeer, least terns and much more.
7. Exceptional Variety – As an archipelago surrounded by water and marshes, the east Texas coast offers a rich food source for resident and transient birds of every size and diet preference, and the location on the Gulf’s edge provides a necessary stopover for migrating species. This is but a summary of the countless opportunities to witness the spectacle of wildlife around the Aransas Bay area.
Rockport Properties has been serving the Aransas Bay area for 25+ years. With two offices, it is part of the heartbeat of Rockport. No one knows the real estate market here better than they do. Give them a call at 361-729-6500.