Bird Watching on South Padre Island

South Padre Island World Birding Center Now Open!

6801 Padre Boulevard
South Padre Island, Texas 78597
Phone: (956) 243-8179

The World Birding Center on South Padre Island is now open. Read More…

Other Bird-watching Sites on South Padre Island

LTC 034 South Padre Island

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations, Winter

Site open for day use only.

From Port Isabel, continue east on TX 100 across the Queen Isabella Causeway to South Padre Island (SPI). Once on the Island, go north on Park Road (PR) 100/ SPI Boulevard to the end of the pavement and the undeveloped portion of South Padre Island. The beach is accessible at Beach Access #6, and at low tide a four-wheel drive vehicle may continue north to the Mansfield Cut. This stretch of beach (as well as the stretch on North Padre Island (CTC 063) south of where the pavement ends) has produced a number of rare gulls, terns, and pelagic species. Peregrine Falcons are common in winter and migration, and shorebirds such as Snowy and Piping plovers are easy to find feeding along the water’s edge.

LTC 035 SPI Convention Center/The Laguna Madre Nature Trail

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations, Winter

Site open for day use only. World Birding Center site.

Return south on PR 100 to Orca Circle and the SPI Convention Center. The Center will serve as the easternmost facility of the WBC complex. The property surrounding it offers an impressive diversity of habitats. Begin by walking around the Center’s native gardens.

Continue to the Laguna Madre Nature Trail boardwalk that extends from the parking lot of the Convention Center to the Laguna Madre. This freshwater marsh is perhaps the best spot in the U.S. to see all of the regularly occurring rails. As many as six species of rails have been seen here at one time, including both Yellow and Black. Virginia and King rails winter in this marsh, and Clapper Rail is resident. Depending on the season, watch for Marsh Wren (year round), Swamp Sparrow (winter), and Least Bittern (summer).

From the SPI Convention Center, continue south on PR 100 to Aries Dr. Go west on Aries Dr. to its end at the Laguna Madre and the Brown Pelican Inn. The Inn, with Black Mangroves nearly reaching the front door, is a private B&B that caters to birders. Contact proprietors Vicky and Ken Conway at (956) 761-2722, or visit their website at

LTC 036 Valley Land Fund Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations

Site open for day use only.

Continue south on PR 100 to W. Sheepshead. Turn west (right) and continue to the GTCBT sign. The Valley Land Fund owns six wooded lots in this area and is improving the property for migratory land birds. The Great Texas Birding Classic assisted in funding the purchase of this property. During migrations (particularly spring) these wooded lots on South Padre may be every bit as productive as High Island (UTC 051 – 055) or Packery Channel (CTC 062).

The Valley Land Fund, Inc.
P.O. Box 6618
McAllen, Texas 78502
(956) 686-6429

LTC 037 SPI Gateway Project

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only.

Continue south on PR 100 to the Queen Isabella Causeway. The City of South Padre Island has constructed a trail to access the mangroves and tidal flats at the base of the Causeway. This paved walkway traverses the flats on the south side of the Causeway, curves under it, then crosses the flats on the north side to connect with a sidewalk system that continues north on the Island. Shorebirds, gulls, and terns roost on these flats, making this trail system an excellent opportunity to study these birds.

LTC 038 Isla Blanca County Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations, Winter

Site open daily. Fee charged.

Continue south on PR 100 to its end at Isla Blanca County Park. The entry fee covers a daily permit that includes Adolph Thomae Jr. County Park (LTC 022) and all other Cameron County parks. The woodlands to the right just before the Park entrance are excellent during spring migration for warblers, vireos, tanagers, buntings and orioles. Once in the Park, continue to the jetties at its south end, scan the offshore waters for pelagic birds such as Northern Gannet and Magnificent Frigatebird. These, along with additional species such as Bridled Tern and Cory’s Shearwater are better seen on a pelagic trip.

In SPI, bay cruises may be arranged through Colley’s Cruises. They regularly access the shallow waters of the Laguna Madre and South Bay, where impressive numbers of waterfowl, herons, egrets, and shorebirds may be seen. Contact Colley’s Cruises at (956) 943-2473 (BIRD), or visit their web page: For park reservations and information, contact Isla Blanca at (956) 761-5493 or

As you leave the jetties, stop by the University of Texas—Pan American Coastal Studies Lab southwest of the Sandpiper Pavilion. Their aquariums and displays are open from 1:30 – 4:30 pm, except Saturdays. Returning north on PR 100 to the Queen Isabella Causeway, check the pond in front of the Sheraton Fiesta. Diving ducks are often seen in this pond. In addition, a butterfly garden is being added at this location. Return to TX 100 and cross the Queen Isabella Causeway.

South Padre Island has attracted generations of visitors year-round to its lush landscaping and breathtaking island scenery. However, just as a countless number of visitors flock to the island every year, it also has welcomed over 300 species of birds.

Due to primarily to its southern location and proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, South Padre Island is a feeding ground for various migrating birds. The fall months, namely October and November, bring birds headed south for the winter. The changing winds bring them in for a landing on their favorite rest stop on the Gulf Coast. The spring months, notably March, April, and May, bring our feathered visitors to our tropical island on their way home.

Rare Sightings
Most recently sighted on South Padre Island were the Flamed-colored Tanager, the Black-legged Kittiwake, Connecticut Warbler, and the Yellow-Green Vireo. Also sighted was the Brown Booby, which hadn’t been seen in this area since 1988. The Black and Yellow Rail have both been sighted at the South Padre Island Convention Centre. Shorebirds are out most common and resident birds, calling South Padre Island home year-around.

Spring & Fall
The dedicated “Warbler Rest Area” adjacent to the boardwalk serves as an attraction for all winged friends, especially its namesake. Warblers consider the South Padre Island area their personal rest area on their trip to and from Central and South America. The native trees planted by the nature trail were chosen for their insect habitat from which the birds can feed. The Fiddlewood bushes were chosen for their delectable berries, which are favorites among the Warbler and most birds. The Laguna Madre Nature Trail is always open and free of charge.

The other popular spots to view our winged visitors are the black mangrove flats along the bay to see variety of shorebirds, the jetties to see the Brown Pelican, and various residential woodlots for a variety of migrant birds.

Organized tours are available on South Padre Island to enhance your bird watching experience. For more information, contact the South Padre Island Visitor Center at 1-800-SOPADRE.

SPI Dolphin Research & Sea life Center
5009 Padre Blvd
In the corner #12
South Padre Island, TX
(956) 299-0629

Sea Ranch Dolphin Watch
One Padre Blvd
SouthPadre Island, Texas 78597

Colley’s Fins to Feathers
South Padre Island, Texas 78597

Wildlife Watching

Dolphin and Nature Research Center
Providing an interactive look at sea creatures in order to teach people about Dolphins in the wild and other sea animals. This Center offers a hands on experience as well as teach about conservation. For more information on hours and price call 956-761-7178

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge

Laguna Madre Nature Trail
Next to the Convention Centre and Whaling Wall No. 53, the Laguna Madre Nature Trail is a 1,500-foot boardwalk that extends across four acres of wetlands. Containing informative signs about dune systems and bird species that frequent the area, the nature trail provides visitors with the opportunity to observe many species of birds and other wildlife in their natural habitat. The idea of the Laguna Madre Nature Trail was conceived by naturalist Ed Hawkins. It is dedicated to his memory. Both the Whaling Wall and nature trail are always open to the public free of charge and can be accessed through the circle driveway leading up to the Convention Centre. The South Padre Island Convention Centre is located at 7355 Padre Blvd. at the north end of town.

Sea Turtle, Inc.
Sea Turtle, Inc., a non-profit organization founded in 1978, was the home of Ila Loetscher, known by many as the “Turtle Lady.” Ms. Loetscher dedicated her life to saving and rehabilitating sea turtles, including the endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. Educational shows featuring the turtles are given on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 10 a.m. A donation of $2 is requested at the door. Sea Turtle, Inc. is located at 6617 Padre Boulevard.
Phone: 761-1720 or 761-4511

The University of Texas Pan American Coastal Studies Lab
The U.T.P.A. Coastal Studies Lab, located in Isla Blanca Park at the south end of the Island, has aquarium displays of fish and other marine life indigenous to the area, as well as an extensive shell collection. The lab is open Sunday-Friday, 1:30-4:30 p.m. (956) 761-2644

Bay Tours

Breakaway Cruises
Sea Ranch Marina (One S.Padre Blvd. slip 27)
(956) 761-2212
Dolphin watch, eco-tours, sunset cruises, amphibious boats, glass bottom boats, parasailing, snorkeling and private fishing charters.