Gulf Coast Birding Festivals 2018

I can’t decide what I like best: Spring migration or Fall migration.  Living on the Gulf Coast, it sort of doesn’t matter because we’re never without birds.  When the Robins leave the far north of America and Canada, they winter here.  We know it’s spring when they leave.  Warblers fly in on stormy Fall weather for a brief stay before heading south across the Gulf of Mexico.  But they pass through again in the Spring.  Hummingbirds  cross our area north and south and also west and east.  Shorebirds are bountiful in the winter along the Southern coast.  That’s probably my favorite time for bird watching.


Birding Festivals bring in a lot of economic power to communities that hold them.  Birding Tourism is counted on in many areas of our country and not just along the Gulf Coast, but I’m partial to the Gulf Coast so want to spread the news about upcoming bird festivals from Texas to the Florida Keys.

The week of April 17-22 brings The Galveston Featherfest to Coastal Texas.    They’re hosting a family festival, field trips, seminars and there are workshops for photographers.

April 13-15th you can join in the events at the Great Louisiana Birdfest.  It features tours, night birding, a photo workshop, socials and other field trips.  Seems to me it’s a premier festival; you might see me there.

The Grand Isle Migratory Bird Fest is scheduled for the weekend of April 20.  There are plenty of family activities, workshops, and field trips.  They’ll have bird banding, a class on binoculars and spotting scopes, a trip to the butterfly dome and an art exhibit.  And in the Fall in Louisiana, you’ll find Hummingbird and Butterfly Festivals in Folsom and Lafayette.

Alabama has it’s Coastal Bird Fest in October (Oct 3-6, 2018), however, the state is host to other events in the Spring.  Among these are the bird banding at Ft. Morgan.  This year it is scheduled from April 17-21.  There are usually two locations for banding at this site.  It’s lots of fun.  A few years ago I was able to hold a bird and release it after it was banded; so sweet.  If you get the opportunity to go, please do so.

Dauphin Island, Alabama is an amazing place to visit during migration.  I highly recommend it. The best time to visit the Bird Sanctuary is from March 1 to April 30.

Now, for Florida.  This state is so large and lined in miles and miles of coast that it’s going to be hard to list all the festivals that take place there in my little blog.  So, I’m going to point you to The Annual Florida Bird Events for more information.

Don’t forget your birding trail maps and guides in each state.  If you’re driving, you can usually get a copy at each state’s Welcome Centers along the interstate.  Texas has amazing interactive online birding maps for the Upper Texas Coast , Central Texas Coast, and Lower Texas Coast.  Louisiana has the America’s Wetland Birding Trail along the Great Gulf Coast. You’ll also find the Mississippi Coastal Birding Trail, the Alabama Gulf Coast Birding Trail, and the Great Florida Birding Trail which is so extensive it’s available in regional maps.  You can find information about them all online or stop at a Visitor’s Center to pick up a copy of the maps.

International Migratory Bird Day is always the second weekend in May.  This is a day to celebrate, well, bird migration!  Bird Day is celebrated in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Central and South American and the Caribbean.  There is so much information about it you should just go to the website:

Happy Birding!

This is a repost with current event dates of an article from 2015. The information is subject to change and therefore not guaranteed to be accurate. Check the event websites before making your plans to attend anything listed in this article.

Moving around the Gulf Coast

Right now we’re living in Fairhope, AL.  It’s a nice little town.  Lots of people retire here.  I’ll talk about it later.  But first I have to give an update on my bird watching.  We live in a wooded community that looks like totally old forest with houses nestled among the trees.  I think it’s a bird sanctuary, too.  I’ve seen a ton of those signs.  Ok…its not on the white, sandy beaches of FL but it’s nice for now. 

I get to look for a different set of birds living here.  Shore birds are a shore mile or two away through the woods.  I saw a laughing gull and a snowy egret fly over my house today, so I’m ok with living in the woods for now.

Our backyard is a bunny paradise.  Dixie, my black lab, has done well to restrain herself but not so with the squirrels.  She’s still trying to climb trees after those critters.  I miss the tail-less squirrel that lived in the canopy area of Siesta Key near my house.  I wonder how it’s doing.

Birds. Well, here’s what I’ve seen just in the back yard: a cardinal pair, a towhee pair, a black capped chickadee, brown thrushes galore, red-bellied woodpecker, mockingbird, red-headed woodpecker (I’ve missed seeing them), blue jays, tufted-titmouse, house finch pair.  I’m not good at identifying warblers by sound but I recognized one.  It’s hard to tell a mockingbird (sometimes) from a warbler.  You have to keep listening and if it doesn’t change it’s tune, its not the mockingbird.  I’ll have to keep listening to the warbler and write about it later.   Tonight as I walked the dog in front of the house (heavy woods across the street) I heard for the first time a chuck-will’s-widow.  There were two of them.  I’d never heard one before and shared the sound with my son, Travis (who I think is pretty interested in birds).  I logged onto   and listened to sounds of noctural birds and found this identical match.  How cool!  I just wish I could see one but the information I read said they are hard to spot.  I’ve been owling and, while it took a while to locate the eastern screetch owl, I was able to find him.  Maybe if this CWW is a resident, I can try to locate it. 

The Fairhope waterfront park and pier are a great place to birdwatch.  Once again I live along a birding trail, this time it’s the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail.  We’ve been there a few times in the past week.  The city has put up purple martin apartments along the waterfront. 101_3118 There are a ton of these birds flying around this whole side of the Mobile Bay.  I don’t know about the other side but I’ll find out sooner or later.  Meanwhile, I’ve seen them along the bay front from Daphne (at a friend’s house) down to Point Clear (at another friend’s house).  The sign in the picture basically says that purple martins pass through this area twice a year.  They winter in South America and come north around the first of the year.  They arrive here late-January/early-February.  Since they eat several thousand tons of flying insects they are helpful to the area:  less bugs to ruin the local agriculture, less pesticide to spray in the community, etc.  They nest late-March to early-July and head south by the end of August.  The City of Fairhope put up the purple martin apartments in February 2001. 

101_3123They are such cool birds.  I really like their color and shape when they’re flying.  Plus they’re great bug eaters.   Come visit; it’s cool to see.  So, add purple martins to the Alabama list, plus a great blue heron, brown pelican, cattle egrets.

Fairhope will be a good stop for a while.