Naturalist Journeys is pleased to return to the beloved Texas Hill Country again this spring, with senior guide Pat Lueders. This Texas Hill Country birding tour really does have it all. Here are our top 5 reasons to join us.
The Golden-cheeked Warbler is the only species of bird that nests only in the state of Texas—amazing, right? On our 2019 Texas Hill Country birding trip, the group had several successful encounters with the Golden-cheeked Warbler.
At the Frio Bat Cave, witness anywhere between 1-10 million Mexican Free-tailed Bats soar into the sky at sunset! An incredible site, this is the second largest bat population open to the public in the world.
The Black-capped Vireo is a vulnerable bird species and has an estimated population of only 20,000. The group that went on our Texas Hill Country birding trip last year got fantastic looks, right on the grounds at Neal’s lodge.
4. Stunning Butterflies
When visiting the Lost Maples Nature Area on our Texas Hill Country birding tour, the kaleidoscope of butterflies that can be seen is magical—over 140 species have been spotted here. From previous Texas Hill Country birding trips, Nysa Roadside-Skipper, Red Admiral, Gulf Fritillary, and Pipevine, Spicebush, and Giant Swallowtail have flourished in numbers.
This small kingfisher, with a disproportionately long bill, can be spotted on this Texas Hill Country birding tour and Texas is one of the only hotspots it can be seen in the US.
Bonus: Stay at Neal’s Lodge–Unpack and Relax
Neal’s Lodge, located in Concan, Texas, is our comfortable accommodation for the week. Neal’s grounds host birds from the Eastern and Western U.S., as well as the Lower Rio Grande Valley. This area has been a bucket list destination for naturalists for decades!
If you opt to pair this Texas Hill Country tour with our Texas Big Bend tour, we’ll reimburse your connecting flight up to $100.
In April of 2019, Naturalist Journeys returned to the south Texas coast for a fun week during spring migration. On this Texas migration tour, our group of 10, plus guides Bob Behrstock and Robert Gallardo tallied an impressive 23 species of warblers! What fun.
Black-throated Green Warbler A bold black throat, this showy warbler, though not very green, is known for its ceaseless buzzy song. We listen for this beauty on our Texas migration trip.
Blackburnian Warbler Oh-so bright and beautiful, you won’t forget your first sighting of a Blackburnian Warbler on our Texas migration trip.
Cerulean Warbler Aptly named, the Cerulean is another treetop denizen, flashing its sky blue head. The Cerulean flies from the Andes to get to its US nesting territory.
Chestnut-sided Warbler This jaunty little warbler looks quite handsome with its golden cap, black mask, and chestnut sides.
Common Yellowthroat So, so bold and beautiful, the Common Yellowthroat’s markings are always a favorite. That black racoon mask is just so vivid.
Golden-winged Warbler Another black masked beauty, this mostly grey warbler’s sunny yellow shoulders and cap make it stand out.
Hooded Warbler We’re suckers for the Hooded Warbler. It’s bright yellow body is offset by greenish-gray tinged wings. And the black hood … swoon! Watch for flicks of white tail feathers in the understory.
Kentucky Warbler Another bright and sunny warbler, its yellow belly and throat can’t be missed. The Kentucky Warbler is loud and much easier to hear than see.
Magnolia Warbler One of our favorites, by name and by markings, the drama of gray, black, yellow, and white make the Magnolia a stunner. Watch for them feeding at the very ends of branches.
Northern Parula Almost a seal-blue on top with a burnt orange necklace, the Northern Parula’s breeding range interestingly skips a large swatch of the upper Midwest before starting back up again in Canada.
Northern Waterthrush Big and not brightly patterned, it’s the Northern Waterthrush’s song that’s so attractive. Look for them at water’s edge as they hunt insects and sometimes even salamanders. Not your typical warbler!
Ovenbird Also not a bright warbler, the Ovenbird does have a boldly striped chest and belly. Why “Ovenbird”? Their name comes from the covered nest the female builds.
Pine Warbler Almost never seen in any tree but a pine (what else), the Pine Warbler makes us work as it works the tops of the trees.
Prairie Warbler A chestnut-colored triangular patch at the nape of the neck and streaky belly help with ID. Fun Fact: The female Prairie Warbler eats her eggshells after they hatch. Crunch.
Prothonotary Warbler Everybody loves a Prothonotary Warbler. Their full yellow head and gray back end are a giveaway, and they are a flash of bright as they work the understory.
Swainson’s Warbler This one boasts quite the belly! Brown and basic, it’s range doesn’t reach usually reach past the Mason-Dixon line.
Tennessee Warbler The Tennessee is a small warbler and is happiest breeding in the boreal forests of Canada. Their favorite food? Spruce budworm.
Yellow Warbler Brilliantly bright yellow with gentle vertical stripes, the Yellow Warbler can be seen throughout the United States and up into Canada and Alaska during breeding season.
Yellow-throated Warbler Lucky for birders the Yellow-throated’s throat is bright! They like to hang out at the top of the canopy, so we look for flits of yellow on this Texas migration trip.
We’ve described each species’ male in breeding plumage.
Look no further than the breathtaking mountains on this Southeast Arizona birding tour for a New Year getaway—so good we have two trips in January with popular guide, Bob Meinke.
A January Southeast Arizona birding tour is a fascinating experience. Enjoy warmer weather (fingers crossed!) and the fascinating birds and wildlife of the Arizona Sky Islands.
Highlights from our Southeast Arizona Birding Tour
We enjoy plenty of opportunities to marvel at many wintering species of warblers, raptors, and sparrows, as well as tens of thousands of Sandhill Cranes that call Southeast Arizona home for the winter. See Vesper, Grasshopper, and Baird’s Sparrows, as well as Horned Lark, and possibly Longspurs as they enjoy these productive wintering grounds. Raptors are also a highlight in the Sulphur Springs Valley.
There are an abundance of trails for exploring paired with gazing views of the sky islands in the sea of desert. Popular hotspots like Ramsey and Miller Canyons, Ash Canyon, and the San Pedro River are on the agenda for those keen. Choose to do as much or as little as you like—simple!
5 of Our Favorite Birds on this Southeast Arizona Birding Tour
The Montezuma Quail is super interesting in its behavior! It will wait till the very last minute when it feels threatened, and bursts into flight if danger comes too close for comfort! It can leap around 2 meters straight up, even with clipped wings!
The Sandhill Cranes that winter here number in the tens of thousands. We watch them as they feed in ponds and fields during the day. We make special time to see them fly into roost for the night—a real spectacle!
Our tour is based out of the lovely Casa de San Pedro, our favorite, most comfy place to stay for a Southeast Arizona birding tour. Grab yourself a slice (or 2!) of the famous homemade pie.
Naturalist Journeys is heading to Veracruz, Mexico this fall for a raptor migration tour: a bamboozling bird count!
By Dave Mehlman,
I was recently at a meeting and heard my good friend and colleague, Dr. Ernesto Ruelas, recount the history behind the establishment of the Veracruz River of Raptors hawk migration project many years ago. Ernesto, now on the faculty of the Universidad Veracruzana in Xalapa, Mexico, first became interested in the hawk migration there many years ago when he was a young boy, and he became inspired by the sheer number of migrating birds. His talk got me very excited about our upcoming raptor migration tour to Veracruz from September 25 to October 5, 2019—you will not want to miss it!
The talk also reminded me to look up the data on the fall 2018 hawk count in Veracruz, and as usual, the numbers were outstanding! A total of 2,122,814 raptors were counted in the town of Cardel, and 2,270,056 in the nearby town of Chichicaxtle! Even though I’ve been there before, it’s still hard to imagine that many hawks passing through a single site – the perfect destination for our raptor migration tour.
As has generally been the case, the most popular species in 2018 were Turkey Vulture (1,081,774 in Cardel), Broad-winged Hawk (844,258 in Chichi), Swainson’s Hawk (321,064 in Chichi), and Mississippi Kite (131,813 in Chichi). However, a total of 16 other raptor species were counted during last year’s fall season, illustrating the diversity. Plus, certain species that were not known to be very migratory have regularly been recorded there, such as Hook-billed Kite (101 in Chichi).
The thing is, there’s so much more to this trip than migrating raptors! Pelicans, storks, flycatchers, subtropical and tropical birds, archaeology, museums, good food—this trip has it all!
Belize retains the highest percentageof its original old growth tropical forest of any Central American country, much of it in southern districts. Exploring on this Southern Belize nature tour is an impressive experince, but it’s not all about birds: Charismatic land mammals such as Black Howler Monkey, Geoffroy’s Spider Monkey, Tayra, Kinkajou, and Baird’s Tapir are not unexpected during treks here along wooded trails. (We even crossed paths with a Jaguar on a recent trip.) But did you know that Belize also has extensive Honduran Pine forests at the cooler, higher elevations, with a completely different set of species? We explore both ecosystems during this intriguing trip. Continue reading Why a Southern Belize Nature Tour?→
At Naturalist Journeys we are thrilled to offer a grand array of Neotropical birding tours. Our expert guides vie for the chance to lead groups in Belize. For many reasons, we love birding Belize! Find out ….
Deciding where to bird in the Neotropics, which includes both Central and South America, can seem like a daunting task, and rightfully so. There are many lodges to choose from, and each country has its own draw. We suggest a stair-step approach in which you gain skills and knowledge with each visit, making the most of your time and budget.
Every winter, Naturalist Journeys heads to Belize for a number of fun-filled trips. Here are highlights from a 2016 Belize birding tour.
The highlights detailed in this blog post were from a February 2016 Belize birding tour … and this trip was extra special: Naturalist Journeys‘ owner Peg Abbott celebrated her 60th birthday on the trip; it was a bit of a reunion with long-time travel companions, which made for a whole lot of fun. You can read the full trip report here.