Matagorda Island State Park

Port O'Connor, Texas

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This 56,668-acre undeveloped barrier island is 38 miles long and 0.75 to 4.5 miles wide. The entire island is public property: the northern two thirds is managed as a state park and wildlife management area, while the southern third is part of Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. Public access is generally limited to ferry passengers and private boats with permission to dock at the ferry. Ferry passengers arrive too late in the day for serious birding, so an overnight stay is recommended. Primitive camping or utilizing the TPWD bunkhouse (reservation required) is possible. Insect repellent is advised year-round; mosquitoes can be horrible! And it is essential that you carry plenty of drinking water. Key birds: Brown Pelican, Neotropic Cormorant, Reddish Egret, White and White-faced Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Mottled Duck, White-tailed Hawk, Crested Caracara, Aplomado Falcon, Black Rail, Black Skimmer, and Seaside Sparrow are present year-round. Magnificent Frigatebird; Least Bittern; Wood Stork; Purple Gallinule; Wilson’s Plover; Gull-billed, Least, and Black Terns; Scissor-tailed Flycatcher; Painted Bunting; Dickcissel; and Boat-tailed Grackle occur in summer. Northern Gannet; Surf Scoter; Merlin; Peregrine Falcon; Sandhill Crane; Snowy and Piping Plovers; Short-eared Owl; and Grasshopper, LeConte’s, and Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrows can usually be found in winter.

Matagorda Island State Park Professional Review and Guide

"This 56,668-acre undeveloped barrier island is 38 miles long and 0.75 to 4.5 miles wide. The entire island is public property: the northern two thirds is managed as a state park and wildlife management area, while the southern third is part of Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. Public access is generally limited to ferry passengers and private boats with permission to dock at the ferry. Ferry passengers arrive too late in the day for serious birding, so an overnight stay is recommended. Primitive camping or utilizing the TPWD bunkhouse (reservation required) is possible. Insect repellent is advised year-round; mosquitoes can be horrible! And it is essential that you carry plenty of drinking water.

Key birds: Brown Pelican, Neotropic Cormorant, Reddish Egret, White and White-faced Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Mottled Duck, White-tailed Hawk, Crested Caracara, Aplomado Falcon, Black Rail, Black Skimmer, and Seaside Sparrow are present year-round. Magnificent Frigatebird; Least Bittern; Wood Stork; Purple Gallinule; Wilson’s Plover; Gull-billed, Least, and Black Terns; Scissor-tailed Flycatcher; Painted Bunting; Dickcissel; and Boat-tailed Grackle occur in summer. Northern Gannet; Surf Scoter; Merlin; Peregrine Falcon; Sandhill Crane; Snowy and Piping Plovers; Short-eared Owl; and Grasshopper, LeConte’s, and Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrows can usually be found in winter."

Activity Type: Birding
Nearby City: Port O'Connor
Trail Type: Several options
Best Times: Best April-May for spring migrants and nesting activities; August-September for southbound migrants; November to March for winter birds
Local Contacts: Matagorda Island State Park
Local Maps: Texas Atlas & Gazetteer, DeLorme
Driving Directions: Directions to Matagorda Island State Park

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May 2018