Winter Birds

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

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. 

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.

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.

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. 

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. 

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…

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.” 

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.

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…

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.

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…

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…


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.

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…

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 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…

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. 

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.

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.

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…

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…


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…

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. 

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…

Gallery – Birding in Port Aransas

Paradise Pond Tour
Birding on the Boardwalk
Birding at Leona Turnbull
Birding Field Trip