Day Trips

The Central Texas Coast around Port Aransas attracts a wide variety of feathered residents

Day Trips
Photo by Gerald E. Mcleod

The Central Texas coast around Port Aransas attracts a wide variety of feathered residents. Fall and winter are a great time to see wildlife in its natural habitat. Shallow coastal ponds and tidal pools are seaside cafes for more than 300 varieties of birds.

Whooping cranes are among the most famous of the seasonal visitors. The largest and rarest North American bird, the whoopers spend summers in Canada and winters along the Central Texas coast. From a population of only 21 birds in the 1940s, biologists hope that last year's flock of 283 birds will have grown to break the 300 mark for the first time in nearly a century. Boat and van tours to see the birds depart Port Aransas and Rockport November through March. Port Aransas hosts the annual Whooping Crane Festival during the last week of February.

Another seasonal visitor to the Port Aransas wetlands is the Roseate Spoonbill (pictured). With its spatula-shaped bill, spindly legs, and bright pink-and-white feathers, the birds look both tropical and prehistoric. Their colorful feathers once popular for women's hats, the birds have rebounded to thousands from a low of 30 to 40 nesting pairs after being added to the list of protected species. Roseate Spoonbills spend summers on the Texas coast before migrating to Central and South America.

1,062nd in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips," is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

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Central Texas Coast, Port Aransas, whooping cranes, Whooping Crane Festival, Roseate Spoonbill

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