It’s time for the Spring Fling. Come join us at the Quintana Neotropical Sanctuary on Quintana Island to witness the spectacle of bird migration.

Every April, we celebrate the return of the songbird migrants by leading bird walks, providing birding information, selling drinks and snacks, and offering a variety of field guides and T-shirts to the public.

If you’ve never been on the coast looking for birds on an April day, now is the time to go. The birds are all dressed up in their finest feathers, and there are so many beautiful jewels to observe that you will be amazed. The trees, shrubs and weedy fields will be full of brightly colored birds that have just flown across the Gulf of Mexico and are fueling up for the rest of their migration to their breeding grounds.

Yes, it’s hard to believe but these little birds do fly across the Gulf of Mexico. Even the tiny ruby-throated hummingbirds make the 600-mile nonstop across the Gulf to return to their summer homes. This is one of the many things that make birds so incredible.

Along the Texas coast, we are very lucky to experience this amazing spectacle up close as the birds stop to refuel. The Gulf Coast Bird Observatory’s primary mission is to provide habitat for these migratory travelers and in support of that mission we work with the city of Quintana to maintain the Quintana Neotropical Bird Sanctuary.

This tiny sanctuary is critical to the birds as it provides food, shelter and water for on their journey north. Fortunately for us, the sanctuary also provides a place for people to enjoy these beautiful, feathered miracles as they move through our area.

From Saturday through May 5, we will experience an incredible influx of migrants including bright orange Baltimore orioles, brilliant red summer and scarlet tanagers, the bluest of blue indigo buntings and blue grosbeaks, black and white and red rose-breasted grosbeaks along with the smaller brightly colored warblers that take your breath away when they catch your eye as they flit through the trees in search of insects.

Even if you don’t know a cardinal from a blue jay, you will enjoy a trip to Quintana to witness this miracle in action. The Quintana Neotropical Sanctuary is located on Lamar Street across from the Quintana town hall building. Our annual tally of bird species during this time period is about 150 so come on down and see how many you can spot.

If you live elsewhere on the coast and can’t get to Quintana, there are many other coastal sanctuaries where you can see the birds up close.

The main thing is just to get out and see the birds as they pass through and enjoy the outdoors during the lovely spring weather.

Susan Heath is the director of conservation research of the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory. The GCBO is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving the birds and their habitats along the entire Gulf Coast and beyond into their Central and South America wintering grounds.

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