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Short Trips for Target Birds Series

TEXAS: Black-capped Vireo & Golden-cheeked Warbler

TEXAS Golden-cheeked Warbler m 1800x BINNS IMG_3459 copy


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2020 :: April 25 - April 28



From: $1,250 (See details)
Cost is per person, double occupancy from Austin, Texas. (AUS)


3 - 7 Participants


7 spaces available


This tour is available as a private trip for any size group. The tour cost will vary with the number of people and any custom requests.

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Highlights of TEXAS: Black-capped Vireo & Golden-cheeked Warbler

  • Short trip for target species
  • Golden-cheeked Warbler
  • Black-capped Vireo
  • Beautiful Texas Hill Country
  • Peak of spring migration
  • Watch 1 million bats leave their roost

Description of TEXAS: Black-capped Vireo & Golden-cheeked Warbler

Pack your cowboy boots and binoculars and join our long-weekend tour targeting Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo in the Texas Hill Country! These handsome songbirds are two of the most range-restricted birds in North America, and the beautiful oak-juniper habitat of central Texas, a short distance from the thriving capitol city of Austin, is the only place in the World where these two species breed.

North America is famous for its incredible diversity of nearly 50 wood-warblers species. Most of these colorful songsters breed in the extensive boreal forests of the northern US and Canada; but not to be outdone, Texas has its own species who’s entire breeding range is encompassed by the Lone Star State. The rare and endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler breeds in old-growth Ashe Juniper exclusively in Texas, and migrates to the pine-oak forests in the mountains of Guatemala. Already confided by these strict habitat preferences, they have declined dramatically due to extensive habitat loss throughout the breeding and wintering ranges. New Mexico, Oklahoma, and (primarily) Texas are also the summer home to the rare Black-capped Vireo. This small, sharp vireo was removed from the Endangered Species List in 2018, thanks to intensive conservation efforts throughout Texas. Dense, arid scrubland provides the breeding habitat for these vireos, and they spend the winter months on the Pacific coast of Mexico. For both the warbler and the vireo, heavy land-clearing for firewood and cattle ranging has steadily chipped away at their favored habitats. More cows means more cowbirds, and both species are heavily affected by cowbird nest parasitism.

During this 4-day tour, we will visit several reliable locations to see these two target specialties and learn more about their special conservation concerns. This tour also coincides with the peak of spring migration through Texas, and we will see dozens of other beautiful species during the weekend. Scott’s, Orchard, Baltimore, and Bullock’s Orioles are all possible, plus such stunners as Painted, Indigo, and Varied Buntings. Zone-tailed Hawk and migrating Swainson’s Hawks will be scanned for, and dozens of shorebirds and lingering waterfowl will be plentiful. Cassin’s, Rufous-crowned, Black-throated, and Clay-colored highlight a long list of sparrows likely to be encountered. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers will be seen by the dozens. If those birding opportunities weren’t enough, we will also visit the Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown Austin where just after sunset we can watch as 1.5 million Mexican Free-tailed Bats emerge from their roost and set out for the night! This is the World’s largest urban bat roost, and worth a visit to Austin in its own right.

Want a longer Texas tour? Combine with our BIG YEAR: TEXAS RIO GRANDE IN SPRING tour!



Length of Tour


Brief Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrivals and birding around Austin

Day 2 – Balcones Canyonlands

Day 3 – South Llano River State Park

Day 4 – Birding around Austin and departures

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrivals and birding around Austin

We will collect all of our participants and bird various hotspots around the Austin area. We’ll loop the Hornsby water treatment facility to admire the myriad shorebirds, waterfowl, waders, and gulls. A city retention pond is home to Least Grebes, and feral Monk Parakeets may be seen flying to their cluttered nests. At dusk we visit the Congress Avenue Bridge and watch a dizzying number of bats streaming out from their roost – one of Austin’s most famous and awe-inspiring spectacles!

Day 2 – Balcones Canyonlands

We’ll rise early and venture out to Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. We’ll walk the Cactus Rocks Trail to find nesting Golden-cheeked Warblers, as well as Summer Tanager, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Painted Bunting and many more! We’ll explore several sections of this vast refuge, including a visit to the Shin Oaks Observation Deck where we hope to find Black-capped Vireos on territory. After rounding up our two primary targets, we will head west to the town of Junction, our base for the night. We’ll arrive in time to bird South Llano River State Park for several hours before dinner, and listen for nightjars and owls.

Day 3 – South Llano River State Park

Today we thoroughly explore the park, enjoying additional looks at target species and myriad other species. Featuring multiple blinds, delightful trails, and great scenery, the park offers plenty to see and experience. Black-capped Vireos hop around their nesting territory, while Vermillion and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers hawk insects. Blinds provide up-close views of Rufous-crowned, Lark, Black-throated, and Clay-colored Sparrows, along with Orange-crowned Warblers, Verdin, Yellow-breasted Chats,  Canyon Towhees, Varied and Painted Buntings, and Bell’s Vireos. If we are lucky perhaps a Golden-cheek or Black-capped will stop in for a bath! We’ll bird our way back to Austin, stopping along the way to look for Zone-tailed Hawk, Cassin’s Sparrow, and other birds of the Texas Plains.

Day 4 – Birding around Austin and departures

We will spend any time we have prior to our departures birding the Austin area, and rounding out our trip list. We will then go to the airport to meet departing flights. Additional days of Texas guiding after the tour can be arranged with our guides!

Cost Details


Cost is $1,250 per person, based upon double occupancy, from Austin, Texas. (Airport code AUS).
This trip ends in same as arrival city (Airport code AUS).

Cost Includes

Cost includes airport transfers, all ground transportation, accommodations, entrance fees and services of your professional leader(s).

Cost does not Include

All meals, flights to/from destination city, trip insurance, or anything that is not specifically mentioned in the itinerary.

Minimum Number

If fewer than the minimum number of participants registered the trip can still run with a small-group supplement fee per person determined by the number of participants.

Single Supplement

If a single room is preferred, or we are unable to find a suitable roommate for you, a single supplement fee of $150 will be assessed.

Deposit Requirements

A $500 deposit per person is required to hold each space on this tour. Deposit may be made online by clicking the "Book Your Trip Now" button and using any credit card. If you prefer, you may call us at 888-875-9453 to pay by phone. You may also mail us a check, however, remember that all space is held on a first come-first served basis as deposits are received.

Minimum Number

If fewer than the minimum number of required participants are registered, we may still be able to run the trip by adding a small-group supplement fee, per person, determined by the number of participants registered.

How to Book

In order to hold your space, click the "Book Your Trip Now" button above and complete the deposit process, including payment of the deposit through our Paypal portal using ANY CREDIT CARD. Upon completion of deposit, please visit our secure, online CLIENT INFORMATION FORM to complete your registration.

Final Payment

For all land-based tours: full payment by check is due 120 days prior to the departure date.

For all boat-based adventure cruises of 7-days or longer: full payment by check is required 180 days prior to departure.

NOTE: If you prefer to use credit card for final payment, a 3% fee may be added to cover the credit card merchant fees we incur.


Three nights accommodations in standard motels, all ensuite and comfortable. Wherever possible, we support local establishments that implement eco-friendly practices.

Activity Level

Activity Level Rating: (Note: 1 is easy and 5 is difficult)

Most walks will be easy and on flat terrain, but we won’t give up until we get the birds!

Additional Information

Recommended Field Guides & Apps

Non-smoking Tour

This trip is for non-smokers only. Smoking is not permitted at any time during our tour.


We will using a 12 or 15-passenger van, driven by the leader (s). If the group size is smaller, a mini-van may be used.

Purchasing Flights

Do not purchase your flights until the trip has been confirmed to go.

Detailed Trip Information

Upon notification that final payment is due (120 days prior to departure for land based tours / 180 days for boat based tours), you will receive a trip package of detailed information for your tour.

Any additional information about the trip, including lodgings, contacts, participants, meeting locations, etc., will sent about 2 weeks prior to the trip departure, or after final payment is received for late registrants.

Travel Insurance

As with all tours, we highly recommend purchasing Travel Insurance to cover your investment. Please see our section on Travel Insurance.

Passport & Visa

US Citizens may require a visa to enter certain foreign countries. See above for any required visa information.

Participants arriving to the USA from a foreign country may need to get a travel visa to enter the United States. Be sure to check the requirements for your country of origin.

Itinerary Changes

The trip itinerary is developed many months ahead of time. Occasionally, despite our best planning, changes may occur during the trip, or we may be forced to alter our plans. Changes may occur because of weather, road conditions, safety concerns or other circumstances. In these situations, it is the leader(s) responsibility to carefully consider and implement appropriate alternatives. Any additional costs incurred because of changes will be the responsibility of each individual participant. Refunds will not be issued as a result of itinerary changes.

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