A sprawling 34,000-acre wildlife refuge, Anahuac is an oasis for birds and paradise for birders.

Home to hundreds of thousands of birds you can see on a drivable car-loop, the coastal marsh and prairie habitat is a year-round birding hotspot that only gets hotter during spring migration. Waterfowl and shorebirds are common throughout the bayou, but perhaps the most exciting is the potential for raptors. Once an ancient flood plain, the area is now teeming with flora, fauna, and feathered friends.

Tens of thousands of geese make landfall in winter, most commonly the Snow. Greater White-fronted is also abundant with Ross’s Geese present in smaller numbers. Thousands of ducks in over 15 species call the area home and you can expect to see the Fulvous and Black-bellied Whistling, but most Fulvous head south for the winter. It’s also a great location to spot American Bittern, White-tailed Hawks, and White-tailed Kite during the colder months. Migration brings thousands of shorebirds if the water levels are right. Hudsonian Godwit and White-rumped Sandpiper are two of the highlights along with vagrants such as Ruff and Surfbirds. Swallows are common in the refuge and Cave is regular from spring-fall. In the spring and summer, Purple Gallinules and Least Bitterns usually give good looks.  

Smith Point is a fantastic location to catch the fall migration. There’s an official raptor count so there is always a good birder or two present. Large numbers of geese and ducks can be seen, such as Franklin’s Gulls, Wood Storks, Anhingas, big flocks of American White Pelicans, Mississippi Kites (peak days in the thousands), Broad-winged Hawks (peak days in the tens of thousands), hundreds of Eastern Kingbirds, and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers in the late summer/fall, thousands of swallows (seven species), hundreds of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and smaller numbers of other migrants. 

•    Major Birding Sites: Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge Shoveler Pond Loop, Willows Trail, Skillern Tract
•    Additional Areas: Candy Cain Abshier Wildlife Management, Smith Point and James H. Robbins Memorial Park

Birding Resources

Birding Hot Spots