Road Scholar : Home
Birding in America's "Birdiest Small Coastal City"

Program Number: 19967RJ
Start and End Dates:
2/3/2014 - 2/7/2014;
Duration: 4 nights
Location: Port Aransas, Texas
Price starting at: $1,057.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Birding
Meals: 12; 4 Breakfasts, 1 Brunch, 3 Lunches, 4 Dinners    

Roseate Spoonbills, Northern Harriers, Tricolor Herons, Cormorants, Brown Pelicans and Pied-billed Grebes — just a few of the usual inhabitants of the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center in Port Aransas on Mustang Island. On this active birding program, head out into open gulf beach, protected bays, salt flats, mud flats, prairies, freshwater ponds and brackish estuarine areas in search of many of the more than 400 species of birds spotted here throughout the year. See why Port Aransas was deemed the country’s “birdiest small coastal city” of 2012.


• At the Leonabell Turnbull Birding Center, see shorebirds, ducks, warblers, raptors, rails and alligators.
• Watch for warbler fallouts at Paradise Pond, a freshwater staging ground for birds about to cross the Gulf.
• Accompanied by experts, learn about local bird populations, as well as the fascinating ecology of the area.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to one mile on mostly smooth paths, occasional uneven terrain.

So you can get the most out of your experience, all of our birding programs have a maximum participant-to-instructor ratio of 14:1.

Date Specific Information


Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Coordinated by University of Texas Marine Science Institute.

Port Aransas

Perched on the northern tip of Mustang Island, Port Aransas is a coastal community three hours south of San Antonio. Known for its spectacular birding — almost 500 species migrate here each spring — this part of the Coastal Bend offers deep sea fishing, nature boat outings and miles of beaches.

Comfortable hotel 2˝ blocks from Gulf beach.
Meals and Lodgings
   Best Western Ocean Villa
  Port Aransas, TX 4 nights
 Best Western Ocean Villa
Type: Motel
  Description: Located approximately 2 1/2 blocks from the Gulf beach and close to shops and restaurants. Trolley stops in front of hotel.
  Contact info: 400 E Avenue G
Port Aransas, TX 78373 USA
phone: 361-749-3010
  Room amenities: Guest Room Amenities: •Cable satellite television •In-room movies HBO •Free local calls under 30 minutes •Free long distance access •Dataports •Wake-up calls •AM/FM alarm clock •Hairdryer •Iron, ironing board •Coffee/tea maker •Refrigerator •Microwave •Desk/work area •Electronic key card locks •Cribs available •Rollaway beds available •Air-conditioning •Free wireless internet access available in public areas, and all guest rooms •Complimentary newspaper available at front desk
  Facility amenities: Continental breakfast • choice of breads • cereal • fruit • eggs • yogurt • juice • and hot items. Hotel Amenities: •Outdoor pool •Game room •Safe deposit box •Ice/vending machines •Public areas accessible by physically challenged •Braille coded exit ways •Access ramps •Free parking •Meeting facilities •Fax services •Photocopy services •High-speed Internet access •Exterior corridor •Higher rates may apply for holidays/special events •Free wireless internet available in public areas; Free in-room wireless internet access; Free wireless internet access available in public areas and all guest rooms; All guest rooms are hardwired and offer free wireless internet access; All guest rooms are hardwired for internet access
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights prior: Call hotel for price Reservations for additional nights must be made directly with the hotel. We cannot make those reservations for you.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Call hotel for price Reservations for additional nights must be made directly with the hotel. We cannot make those reservations for you.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
4:30 pm You will be staying at Best Western Ocean Villa that night.
  End of Program:
10 am You will be staying at Best Western Ocean Villa the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Release form required by the University of Texas Marine Science Institute. Sign/witness and mail to: Lynn Ulch University of Texas Marine Science Institute 750 Channel View Drive Port Aransas, TX 78373 or fax 361-749-6707 No later than 3 weeks prior to your trip.
  Parking availability:
Free parking is available at the Best Western.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Port Aransas, TX
  Nearest highway: Hwy. 361
  Nearest airport:  Corpus Christi
  From End of Program
  Location: Port Aransas, TX
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Corpus Christi


From Airport




American Cab
phone: 361-563-2294
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


$75 for up to 5 people
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


Up to 1 hour 




40 miles


There is limited public transportation available in the area. All major car rental companies are available at the airport. We recommend making a reservation 24 hours in advance. Make sure you have you flight arrival time and flight number handy when you call, and confirm the price. Check out the Corpus Christi International Airport website for details.

Driving Directions
  Corpus Christi Airport Head east on Int'l Dr for 0.7 mi. Turn right at Agnes St/TX-44 E (signs for I-44 E) 0.2 mi Merge onto TX-44 E via the ramp on the left to Bayfront/Padre Island/I-37/TX-358 1.7 mi Take the exit onto N Padre Island Dr/TX-358 W toward Bayfront/I-37 1.4 m. Take the exit onto I-37 S toward Bayfront/Shoreline Blvd 4.4 mi Take the exit onto US-181 N toward Portland/TX-35 10.2 miContinue on TX-35 N 20.6 mi Turn right at FM-3036/TX-35 Turn left at TX-35. continue on to Best Western on the left.
  Corpus Christi International Airport To hotel, Best Western Ocean Villa, Port Aransas 1. Head east on International Blvd toward Glasson Dr - 0.7 miles 2. Take the 2nd right onto Agnes St - 0.2 miles 3. Take the ramp on the left to TX-358/​I-37/​Padre Island/​Bayfront - 0.1 miles 4. Merge onto TX-44 E - 1.6 miles 5. Keep right at the fork, follow signs for TX-358 E/​NAS-CCAD/​Padre Island and merge onto TX-358 E - 14.1 miles 6. Continue onto John F Kennedy Memorial Causeway (signs for Park Rd 22/​Padre Island) - 5.0 mi 7. Slight right onto S Padre Island Dr/​Park Road 22 - 0.9 miles 8. At traffic light turn left onto TX-361 N. Port Aransas- 17.5 miles 9. At 2nd traffic light turn right onto East Avenue G. The Best Western Ocean Villa will be on the right - 0.2 miles
  From the North (San Antonio) Take Highway 37 South to Corpus Christi. Exit Hwy. 358 (South Padre Island Drive) and travel south to Padre Island. On Padre Island, turn left at the light on Hwy. 361 leading to Mustand Island and Port Aransas. Go to Ave. G in Port Aransas at the light and turn right. The Best Western Ocean Villa will be two blocks down on the right.
Elevation Note: We don't get much higher than 25 feet above sea level!

Equipment Requirements: Binoculars are required 8x42 or 10x50 work well, and an updated field guide. Birds of North America or, Sibley's Eastern Bird Guide are good.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Welcome, introductions and orientation followed by dinner at local restaurant
(Monday, February 3)
 Afternoon: Welcome to Port Aransas, orientation, introductions and discuss the weeks schedule.
 Dinner: We'll enjoy a delicious dinner at one of Port Aransas' favorite dining spots.
Accommodations: Best Western Ocean Villa
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Beach Birding, Salt Marsh, Local Birding Hot Spots
(Tuesday, February 4)
 Breakfast: After breakfast, we'll head out to the beach to look for shore birds. Our birding guides will set up scopes and point out the identifying marks on the birds we'll see. Our next stop will be the University of Texas Marine Science Institute for a tour of the salt marsh and a brief introduction to the local ecology.
 Lunch: Lunch at the UT cafeteria followed by an afternoon of birding hot spots. We may visit the bay, some fresh water ponds, or one of the local birding sites. We'll go where the birds are the best!
 Dinner: Light dinner (and a yummy dessert) at Miss K's Bistro will be followed by a video on Whooping Cranes in preparation for our trip the following day.
Accommodations: Best Western Ocean Villa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Whooping Crane trip
(Wednesday, February 5)

Note: Cruise along the shores of the Aransas Wildlife Refuge

 Breakfast: Early start to the day as we drive to Rockport to board the MV "Skimmer" and the fully narrated tour begins as we cruise along the shores of the refuge seeing shorebirds, wading birds and of course Whooping Cranes.
 Lunch: We'll enjoy a relaxing picnic lunch at the Rockport Beach Park where we can enjoy the gulls, terns, and shorebirds and people watch on the beach. You can even do a little beach combing. We will continue birding in the Rockport area before returning to the hotel.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant followed by our bird check list and bird questions. Free time in the evening.
Accommodations: Best Western Ocean Villa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Two great birding spots. The Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center boardwalk and Paradise Pond. Picnic in the Park by the jetties and watch the dolphins.
(Thursday, February 6)

Note: Excellent birding from the board walks overlooking the bays

 Breakfast: Breakfast will be followed by a field trip to the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center. This outdoor Center is home to herons, egrets, grebes, rails, cormorants, pelicans, and many other birds. It is also an attractive stopover for our many migrants. Warblers are found in the trees and reeds, raptors fly over and sometimes swoop in for lunch, early ducks spend the day dabbling in the water, and spoonbills add a splash of bright pink as they fly over or feed in the back ponds. After we've had our fill of wonderful birds at the Birding Center, we'll head for Paradise Pond.
 Lunch: After lunch we'll follow the birds. Our guides are always in touch with other local birders and we'll go to the best spots to increase our list of species!
 Dinner: Our final evening will begin with a Texas shrimp boil, a local tradition. After dinner we'll go over the bird list and talk about our target birds for the final morning.
Accommodations: Best Western Ocean Villa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Last chance birding hot spots. Program ends 10 am. Say good byes. Brunch to-go
(Friday, February 7)
 Breakfast: After breakfast we'll head out for our final birding field trip. We may go back to the Birding Center, Paradise Pond, the beach or hit a new spot. We'll go to the best spot to end with a bang.
 Brunch: We will have a boxed lunch to-go back at the hotel around 10 am and tally our bird lists. We will answer any questions you may have and we'll say good-bye till your next trip to Mustang Island. Check out hotel 11 am.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Brunch

Free Time Opportunities
  Port Aransas, TX Port Aransas History Museum
Our new history museum is a delightful way to spend an hour or two. History from the Karankawa to modern time is covered in the museum.
  Texas Maritime Museum
TheTX Maritime Museum, Fulton Mansion and Goose Island State Park are all located in Rockport.
  Texas State Aquarium
The Texas State Aquarium, Museum of Science and History, Columbus Ships and USS Lexington are all located in downtown Corpus Christi.
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story

Author: Kathleen Kaska

Description: Millions of people know a little bit about efforts to save the whooping crane, thanks to the movie Fly Away Home and annual news stories about ultralight planes leading migratory flocks. But few realize that in the spring of 1941, the population of these magnificent birdspure white with black wingtips, standing five feet tall with a seven-foot wingspanhad reached an all-time low of fifteen. Written off as a species destined for extinction, the whooping crane has made a slow but unbelievable comeback over the last seven decades. This recovery would have been impossible if not for the efforts of Robert Porter Allen, an ornithologist with the National Audubon Society, whose courageous eight-year crusade to find the only remaining whooping crane nesting site in North America garnered nationwide media coverage. His search and his impassioned lectures about over development, habitat loss, and unregulated hunting triggered a media blitz that had thousands of citizens on the lookout for the birds during their migratory trips. Allens tireless efforts changed the course of U.S. environmental history and helped lead to the passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973. Though few people remember him today, his life reads like an Indiana Jones story, full of danger and adventure, failure and success. His amazing story deserves to be told.

Aransas: A Naturalist's Guide

Author: Wayne H. McAlister

Description: This naturalist's guide offers a comprehensive overview of the natural and cultural history of Aransas, taking an ecological approach to show how the plants, animals, land, and sea form a living web that sustains an amazing diversity of creatures. Individual chapters discuss the land itself, the whooping cranes and other endangered species, game animals, introduced species, mammals, birds, herptiles, fish, invertebrates, and woody and herbaceous plants. With this information, visitors to the refuge and everyone interested in the natural history of the Texas Gulf Coast will enrich their knowledge of this environmentally crucial region.

Bird Sense: What It's Like to Be a Bird [Hardcover]

Author: Tim Birkhead

Description: Most people would love to be able to fly like a bird, but few of us are aware of the other sensations that make being a bird a gloriously unique experience. What is going on inside the head of a nightingale as it sings, and how does its brain improvise? How do desert birds detect rain hundreds of kilometers away? How do birds navigate by using an innate magnetic compass? Tracing the history of how our knowledge about birds has grown, particularly through advances in technology over the past fifty years, Bird Sense tells captivating stories about how birds interact with one another and their environment. More advanced testing methods have debunked previously held beliefs, such as female starlings selecting mates based on how symmetrical the males plumage markings are. (Whereas females can discern the difference between symmetrical and asymmetrical markings, they are not very good at detecting small differences among symmetrically marked males!) Never before has there been a popular book about how intricately bird behavior is shaped by birds senses. A lifetime spent studying birds has provided Tim Birkhead with a wealth of fieldwork experiences, insights, and a unique understanding of birds, all firmly grounded in science. No one who reads Bird Sense can fail to be dazzled by it.

Exploring Texas History: Weekend Adventures

Author: Elaine Galit

Description: Combining fascinating stories of Texas history with travel adventures around the state, Exploring Texas History: Weekend Adventures suggests where to go and what to see by tracking historical characters and events. The travel destinations echo the settlement of Texas, the battle for independence, the Alamo, cowboys, vacqueros, Buffalo Soldiers, shipwrecks, and cattle drives. Each chapter includes history, travel routes, best sights, best times to visit, lodging, dining, and sources for additional information. Families, visitors, travelers with a love of history, and teachers and students studying the required curriculum of the fourth grade in Texas schools will find this guide practical and user friendly

Exploring the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail: Highlights of a Birding Mecca [Paperback]

Author: Mel White

Description: Exploring the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail examines highlights of this popular route: locations ranging from national wildlife refuges with tens of thousands of acres to small city parks to stretches of isolated road passing through birdy habitat. In this guide, expert birder/writer Mel White profiles more than 80 of the best sites along the trail, chosen for diversity of habitat, species, and seasonality; productivity; and accessibility. Site listings give general (and often specific) directions, contact information (including websites when available), advice about when and how to bird the location, and a listing of some of the notable species that might be found. Also featured are nearby museums, nature centers, festivals, and accommodations of particular interest to the visiting birder.

Kings of Texas: The 150-Year Saga of an American Ranching Empire

Author: Don Graham

Description: This book is about the King Ranch, but it is about much more than that. A compelling chronicle of war, peace, love, betrayal, birth and death in the region where the Texas-Mexico border blurs in the haze of the Wild Horse Desert, it is also an intriguing detective story with links to the present--and a first-rate read.

Lady Lex and the Blue Ghost: A Pictorial History of the USS Lexingtons CV-2 and CV-16

Author: Steve Ewing

Description: This is a short pictoral history of the lady-lex.

Texas Gulf Coast Stories

Author: C. Herndon Williams

Description: The middle Texas coast, known locally as the Coast Bend, is an area filled with fascinating stories. From as early as the days of de Vaca and La Salle, the Coastal Bend has been a site of early exploration, bloody conflicts, legendary shipwrecks and even a buried treasure or two. However, much of the true history has remained unknown, misunderstood and even hidden. For years, local historian C. Herndon Williams has shared his fascinating discoveries of the area's early stories through his weekly column, "Coastal Bend Chronicle." Now he has selected some of his favorites in Texas Gulf Coast Stories. Join Williams as he explores the days of early settlement and European contact, Karankawa and Tonkawa legends and the Coastal Bend's tallest of tall tales.

The Book of Texas Bays

Author: Jim Blackburn

Description: In a dazzling tribute to the Texas coast, conservationist and lawyer Jim Blackburn has teamed with photographer Jim Olive to give us the most intimate and important portrait yet of Texas bays and of those who work for their wise use and preservation. While giving life and sustenance to plants, animals, and people, the bays and estuaries of Texas have other stories to tellabout freshwater inflows, deep port construction, disappearing oyster beds, beach resorts, industrial pollution, and more. At a certain point, each story brings opposing forces into the courtroom for vigorous debates on the future of some of our most valuable and irreplaceable resources. The Book of Texas Bays is a personal account of legal battles won and lost, but it is also a fine work of natural history by someone who has a deep spiritual connection to the Texas coast and all it has to offer. Jim Olives stunning photographs present us with a dramatic perspective of our relationship with the Gulf and remind us of both the grandness and the fragility of our coastal treasures.

The Shorebird Guide

Author: Michael O'Brien & Richard Crossley

Description: Join the experts in birding by impression, a revolutionary approach to bird identification. Experienced birders use the most easily observed characteristics — size, structure, behavior, and general color patterns — to identify birds even before looking carefully at plumage details. Now birders at all levels can learn how to identify shorebirds quickly and simply. This guide includes more than 870 stunning color photographs, starting with a general impression of the species and progressing to more detailed images of the bird throughout its life cycle. Quiz questions in the captions will engage and challenge all birders and help them benefit from this simplified, commonsense approach to identification.

The Sibley Guide to Birds

Author: David Allen Sibley

Wildflowers of Texas

Author: Geyata Ajilvsqui

Description: Easy to follow color coded pages. This is my favorite guide. Can be found in most book stores for $20 which is less than I have seen online.

You can't find a better value than Road Scholar.

As a not-for-profit organization, we are dedicated to providing all-inclusive educational programs at great value. From lectures to gratuities to field trips to accommodations - the tuition you pay up front is all that you pay.

Specifically, this program includes:

Plus these special experiences...

View the Daily Schedule to see more

And included with all Road Scholar programs:

© Road Scholar 2016 | Call toll-free: 1-800-454-5768