South Texas is part of a huge migration route for birds, and while there are many, many places in the region dedicated to seeing birds, one of our favorites is the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center!
The Center is located on the Bay side of the Island.
Admission is sold for the day or by the week, a great purchase if you’re staying for a few days and want to come back at different times of day, as you never know what you might see!
Inside there is a nice interpretive center with interesting exhibits about the nature of the bay and beach.
Display cases house shells that are not only common to the Texas coast, but those that have found their way to South Padre from around the world!
Railroad Vine or Beach Morning Glory is a pretty plant that grows in the sandy dunes.
They also have a good exhibit on the sea turtles common to South Padre Island. Sea Turtles Inc. is located right next door, and they have resident turtles, rehabilitating turtles and they do sea turtle hatchling releases during the summer.
We braved the January wind, which was pretty chilly on the day we visited, to see the boardwalk. From the 2nd level, you can climb up the outside stairs to the 5th level, or just inside and ride the elevator!
In addition to the wetlands and mud flats, there are pretty, man-made areas and waterfalls, and a butterfly garden.
The butterfly garden is a resting place for thousands of Monarch butterflies as they make their epic migration each year! October is the prime time to visit to see them!
Visit during September to see the Ruby-throated hummingbirds as they make their way down to Mexico each year!
From the 5th level, we had a great view of the flats.
On the day of your visit, check for guided tours, which are included in your admission. Be sure and bring a good lens for your camera or binoculars.
Sorry, no pets allowed on the boardwalk.
A view of the back of the center, from the boardwalk.
There were so many different birds on the wetlands. We didn’t sit around to watch, because it was just cold! There are some covered areas which would be nice during the summer.
A few things to remember to take with you are bug spray and sunscreen, however they ask that you spray in the parking lot, as both can harm the sensitive Laguna Madre ecosystem.
Water for refillable water bottles is available inside.
We tried not to bother this fishing egret.
The bird blinds are set out in the best place to see the birds.
We saw plenty of commorants as we walked out into the bay!
There were also plenty of people braving the cold to kite surf on such a windy day! My daughter really wants to take lessons, but during the summer! For more information, click HERE to check out Air Padre Kiteboarding.
The biggest thrill for us came when we visited Bird Blind #4, near the fresh water inlet from the Waste Water Treatment Plant.
This alligator was burrowed up in the mud, trying to stay warm. Such a large alligator can low it’s breathing and heartbeat and stay under quite a while to conserve energy, while smaller alligators can be seen sunning even on chilly days to stay warm.
During warmer weather, you can often see them sunning and swimming in the brackish water and freshwater ponds around the center! They have been seen out in the bay, but will return to the fresher water.
Did you know that the Laguna Madre is actually saltier than the Gulf? During times of drought or little rainfall, evaporation cause an increase in the salinity of the bay, and during times of increased rainfall, that amount drops. Reduction in drainage areas by concrete and culverts means less water is absorbed by the ground, and increases run off and an influx of fresh water during rains.
Things To Do in South Padre Island
Sea Turtle Inc. gives tours of their resident and rehabilitating sea turtles, as well as turtle and hatchling releases. Click HERE for more information.
Parrot Eyes Watersports offers boat and jet ski tours into the Laguna Madre to see stingrays and dolphins! Click HERE for more information.
Isla Blanca Park offers beach access, a fishing pier, restaurants, and more! Click HERE for more information!
South Padre Island Adventure Park offers horseback riding on the beach, zip lines, petting zoo and more! Save money by purchasing online. Click HERE for more information.
Pier 19 is our favorite! Enjoy a walk along their long pier, and watch dolphins in the bay as you dine! Click HERE for more information.
Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Beach Resort offers beachfront rooms and admission into the waterpark with your stay! Click HERE for more information.
South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center
6801 Padre Island Blvd., South Padre Island
Click HERE to visit their website.
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