Since we travel full-time, we often have the luxury of being in whatever location of the country we like, whenever we like. As a birder, this year I really wanted to be in southeast Texas (Rio Grande Valley) for spring bird migration. We were here two years ago and just happened to be here for most of it (and it was amazing). So this time I wanted to make a point of being here for the whole migration. Migration on South Padre Island is pretty amazing and probably one of the best locations in the USA. Here, the peak of spring migration takes place from mid-April through mid-May. I personally have found the last two weeks of April to be the best. It’s just now mid-May here and migration has slowed considerably (to the point I doubt I’ll see many more migrants). So if you want to plan a week or two down here for birding that’s my personal suggestion. I hear fall migration is even better and they have an annual festival as well. I do hope to make it for that one year soon as well. If you’ve been, tell me about in the comments!

One of the main birds birders like to spot during migration are the warblers. A small, beautiful song bird from South America or Central America that migrates to America (or Canada) to breed. They are quick, rarely settling in place long enough for photos and some of our smallest birds. This makes them difficult to photograph under normal conditions. Migration isn’t a normal condition, however. During migration you see very tired and hungry birds. They’ve made a long journey across the Gulf of Mexico with no place to stop and rest. So the first land they see, they usually stop to rest and refuel. For bird watchers and photographers, these tired birds are much easier to spot and photograph. This is why South Padre Island, Galveston, and Bolivar on the southeast coast of Texas is such a special place during migration.

Having been here two years ago I managed a lot of warbler lifers (a lifer is a term used by birders which simply means a bird they’ve seen for the first time) so this year I didn’t manage as many. Still, I did manage a few and missed a few as well.

Here are some of my favorite photos of the warblers I managed to photograph this spring migration here in Texas.

1 Comment

  1. Gretchen Graff says:

    Jason, these are marvelous portraits of the spring warblers. I hope to someday be in the RGV for spring migration. I attended the RGV Birding Festival twice and look forward to being there again. I think you will love it when you add it to your travels.

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