Port A is your birding destination!

Located in the Central Flyway, the island boasts hundreds of native and migrating species. Port A hosts many must-see lookouts for birders and wildlife photographers. From the natural wetlands, inlets, and 18 miles of natural beaches and dunes, to the rock jetties, piers and marinas, the island offers perfect vantage points to marvel at the migrating birds that consider Port A the perfect rest stop.

  • American Oystercatcher

    American Oystercatcher

    The American Oystercatcher is found on the Gulf Coast in Port Aransas throughout the year. In the 19th century they became locally extinct in the northeast due to market hunting and egg collecting. After receiving protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, their range extended northward to re-occupy historical habitat in New England. They nest on the beach and feed on marine invertebrates. The large, heavy beak is used to pry open bivalve mollusks. Oystercatchers raise a clutch of two or three chicks.

    Read more on AllAboutBirds.org

  • American White Pelican

    American White Pelican

    A typical winter bird in Port Aransas, the American White Pelican is distinctive for its nine-foot wingspan, conspicuous white body, and the improbable proportions of its large bill and pouch. They breed on lakes throughout the northern Great Plains and mountain West and move to the coast during the winter, although a few are year-round residents in Texas. Unlike the Brown Pelican, White Pelicans typically do not dive into the water when feeding but rather swim along dipping their bills into the water and scooping up prey in their expandable pouches. Be sure not to confuse the American White Pelican with the endangered Whooping Crane as their colorings are similar!

    Read more on AllAboutBirds.org

  • Black Skimmer

    Black Skimmer

    The Black Skimmer is the only Skimmer found in North and South America.  It is a black and white tern and has a massive red bill with a black tip. Black Skimmers are found along coasts late in the evening at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center and wherever pools of water exist. The Skimmer uses this lower bill to plow or “skim” through the water until it strikes a fish, then the head snaps down so that the upper bill can grasp the fish.

    Read more on AllAboutBirds.org

  • Black-bellied Whistling Duck

    Black-bellied Whistling Duck

    Black-bellied Whistling Duck is a year round resident of Port Aransas. Its long neck, long legs, black belly, red bill, and white wing patch make it a distinctive-looking waterfowl. The northern race of Black-bellied Whistling Duck breeds from southern Texas through coastal Mexico and Central America. Pairs most often partner for life and share the responsibilities of incubation and brood rearing. Nests are usually located in tree cavities, nest boxes or on the ground in grassy areas or under brush or cacti near water.

    Read more on AllAboutBirds.org

  • Black-necked Stilt

    Black-necked Stilt

    The Black-necked Stilt is locally abundant along the edges of shallow water in Port Aransas. This eye-catching bird is black and white with long pink legs and a long thin black bill. They prefer marshes, mudflats, ponds and drainage ditches where their food (worms, mollusks, shrimp, insects, and small fish) is abundant.

    Read more on AllAboutBirds.org

  • Cinnamon Teal

    Cinnamon Teal

    Cinnamon Teal is a small, reddish dabbling duck found at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center during winter. The adult male has a cinnamon-red head and body with a brown back, a red eye and a dark bill. The adult female has a mottled brown body, a pale brown head, brown eyes and a grey bill and is very similar in appearance to a female Blue-winged Teal; however its overall color is richer, the lore spot, eye line, and eye ring are less distinct. Cinnamon Teal mainly eat plants; their diet may include mollusks and aquatic insects.

    Read more on AllAboutBirds.org

  • Crested Caracara

    Crested Caracara

    Crested Caracara is in the same family as falcons. A common subject of folklore and legends throughout Central and South America, the Crested Caracara is sometimes referred to as the “Mexican eagle.” It ranges into the United States to Arizona, Florida and Texas and is commonly seen on Mustang Island. This tropical falcon often associates with vultures feeding on carrion of all types but it has a flexible diet feeding on insects, fish, reptiles, amphibians and mammals.

    Read more on AllAboutBirds.org

  • Green-winged Teal

    Green-winged Teal

    The Green-winged Teal, the smallest North American dappling duck, is a common and widespread duck that breeds at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center. This dabbling duck is strongly migratory and winters far south of its breeding areas. The breeding male has grey flanks and back, with a yellow rear end and a white-edged green speculum, obvious in flight or at rest. It has a chestnut head with a green eye patch. Green-winged teal have a broad diet. They eat seeds of grasses and edges as well as aquatic insects, mollusks, and crustaceans.

    Read more on AllAboutBirds.org

  • Gull-billed Tern

    Gull-billed Tern

    The Gull-billed Tern is common in grassy fields and marshes on Mustang Island. This is a fairly large and powerful tern, similar in size and general appearance to a Sandwich Tern, but the short thick gull-like bill, broad wings, long legs and robust body are distinctive. The summer adult has grey upperparts, white underparts, a black cap, strong black bill and black legs. In winter, the cap is lost, and there is a dark patch through the eye like a Forster’s Tern. In addition to the usual tern diet of fish and crustaceans, the Gull-billed tern catches insects in flight or on the ground.

    Read more on AllAboutBirds.org

  • Horned Lark

    Horned Lark

    The Horned Lark is a small songbird with a striking black and yellow face pattern and a dark breast band. The summer male has black ‘horns’, two little tufts of black feathers on the head, which gives the species its name. The Horned Lark inhabits open ground with short grass or scattered bushes and breeds across much of North America. It breeds in the Port Aransas Nature Preserve and can be seen year round feeding on seeds in grassy and weedy areas including the golf course.

    Read more on AllAboutBirds.org

  • Marsh Wren

    Marsh Wren

    The Marsh Wren is a small North American songbird that winters in Port Aransas. Adults have brown upperparts with a light brown belly and flanks and a white throat and breast. The back is black with white stripes. They have a dark cap with a white line over the eyes and a short thin bill. The male’s song is a loud gurgle used to declare ownership of territory; western males have a more varied repertoire. Their breeding habitat is marshes with tall vegetation such as cattails at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center. These birds forage actively in vegetation, sometimes flying up to catch insects in flight. They mainly eat insects, also spiders and snails.

    Read more on AllAboutBirds.org

  • Neotropic Cormorant

    Neotropic Cormorant

    The Neotropic Cormorant is a medium sized cormorant with a long tail and a small gular (throat) pouch. It can be seen year round in Port Aransas at the Leonabelle Turnbell Birding Center foraging for food, mainly fish, by diving underwater and propelling itself by its feet. The Neotropic Cormorant is a found in South and Central America, and Southern Texas in habitats ranging from coastal marshes, large rivers to small streams, mangroves, and extensive marshlands.

    Read more on AllAboutBirds.org

  • Osprey


    The Osprey, sometimes known as the fish eagle or fish hawk, is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey. This large raptor is brown on the upperparts and predominantly greyish on the head and underparts, with a black eye patch and wings. Ospreys tolerate a wide variety of habitats, nesting in any location near a body of water providing an adequate food supply. As its other common name suggests, the Osprey’s diet consists almost exclusively of fish. It possesses specialized physical characteristics and exhibits unique behavior to assist in hunting and catching prey. Watch the sky along SH 361 for many Ospreys on your drive to and from Port Aransas.

    Read more on AllAboutBirds.org

  • Peregrine Falcon
    Peregrine Falcon

    Peregrine Falcon

    Powerful and fast-flying, the Peregrine Falcon hunts medium-sized birds, dropping down on them from high above in a spectacular swoop. They were virtually eradicated from eastern North America by pesticide poisoning in the middle 20th century. After significant recovery efforts, Peregrine Falcon has made an incredible rebound and is now a regular sight in many large cities and coastal habitats. As you make your drive along SH 361, keep an eye out for a Peregrine Falcon.

    Read more on AllAboutBirds.org

  • Reddish Egret

    Reddish Egret

    The Reddish Egret is a resident breeder in Port Aransas. In the past, this bird was a victim of the plume trade. According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), there are only 1,500 to 2,000 nesting pairs of Reddish Egrets in the United States – and most of these are in Texas. They are classified as “threatened” in Texas and receive special protection. It is a medium-sized, long-legged, long-necked heron with a long pointed pinkish bill with a black tip. The legs and feet are bluish-black. The sexes are similar, but there are two color morphs. The adult dark morph has a slate blue body and reddish head and neck with shaggy plumes. The adult white morph has completely white body plumage. During mating, the male’s plumage stands out in a ruff on its head, neck and back.

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  • Redhead


    The male Redhead has a large, round, bright reddish-chestnut head and neck, a short blue bill with a black tip, and yellow-orange eyes.  It has a gray body with a black breast, black rump and tail feathers. The female has a brown head and body and a dark bluish bill with a black tip. The Redhead is one of a group of diving ducks that form flocks of hundreds or even thousands during winter in ponds on Mustang Island and along the shores of Aransas and Corpus Christi Bays.

    Read more on AllAboutBirds.org

  • Roseate Spoonbill

    Roseate Spoonbill

    The Roseate Spoonbill, the official bird of Port Aransas, is a resident breeder and year round bird along the Gulf Coast. The Roseate Spoonbill’s long spoon-shaped bill and bright pink feathers are unique. To feed it sweeps its open bill from side to side in the water to sift up food like small fish, shrimp, and mollusks. Some of the crustaceans it eats feed on algae that give the spoonbill’s feathers their rosy pink color. Roseate Spoonbills are often seen at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, Port Aransas Nature Preserve as well as the Wetland Park along SH 361 when water is present.

    Read more on AllAboutBirds.org

  • Royal Tern
    Royal Terns

    Royal Tern

    The Royal Tern has a red-orange bill and a black cap during the breeding season, but in the winter the cap becomes patchy. Enjoy the Royal Tern along the Port Aransas beach; it is only found where there is salt water. Feeding near the shore, close to the beach or in backwater bays, this shorebird is common year-round.

    Read more on AllAboutBirds.org

  • Ruddy Duck

    Ruddy Duck

    The Ruddy Duck makes their winter home in Port A at the pond in the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center as well as along the Corpus Christi Bay shorelines. The dense marsh vegetation near water is where you’ll find them nesting. A typical brood contains 5 to 15 ducklings. An adult male, seen here, has a rust-red body, a blue bill and a white face with a black cap. The females have a grey-brown body with a greyish face with a darker bill, cap and a cheek stripe.

    Read more on AllAboutBirds.org

  • Ruddy Turnstone

    Ruddy Turnstone

    Ruddy Turnstone is a small wading bird, now classified in the sandpiper family but was formerly sometimes placed in the plover family. It is a highly migratory bird, breeding in northern parts of Eurasia and North America and flying south to winter on coastlines almost worldwide. This a fairly small and stocky bird can always be seen during the winter on the Port Aransas beach near the South Jetty.

    Read more on AllAboutBirds.org

  • Sandwich Tern

    Sandwich Tern

    The Sandwich Tern is a medium-sized tern found year round in the Port Aransas area. It can be recognized by the yellow-tipped black bill, grey upperparts, white underparts and shaggy black crest, which becomes less extensive in winter, with a white crown. It nests in ground scrap and lays one to three eggs. The Sandwich Tern feeds by plunge diving for fish, usually in marine environments, and the offering of fish by the male to the female is part of the courtship display.

    Read more on AllAboutBirds.org

  • Sora


    The Sora is a small rail commonly heard, but rarely seen in marshes with dense vegetation.  It is our most common rail and is about the size of a quail. Adult Soras are long, with dark-marked brown upperparts, a blue-grey face and underparts, and black and white barring on the flanks. They have a short thick yellow bill, with black markings on the face at the base of the bill and on the throat. Sora can be seen in the winter at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center and the Joan and Scott Holt Paradise Pond.

    Read more on AllAboutBirds.org

  • Swamp Sparrow
    Swamp Sparrow

    Swamp Sparrow

    Swamp Sparrow adults have streaked rusty, buff and black upperparts with a gray breast, light belly and a white throat. The wings are strikingly rusty. Most males and a few females have rust-colored caps. Their face is gray with a dark line through the eye. They have a short bill and fairly long legs.  Swamp Sparrows can be seen at the Port Aransas Nature Preserve and other birding sites in Port Aransas.

    Read more on AllAboutBirds.org

  • White-tailed Hawk

    White-tailed Hawk

    The White-tailed Hawk is a large bird of prey found in tropical or subtropical environments across the Americas and in the U.S. is only common on the Texas Coast. Its white tail with a black band near the tip is unique amongst North American hawks. White-tailed Hawks can be seen year round perched on bushes or electric poles along SH 361.

    Read more on AllAboutBirds.org