Hi Christina:

I have made quite a few trips to Texas and have seen more than 50% on the Texas state checklist, so I can help. But there are several things that need to be said first:

1. You can't "do" Texas in one trip. It's a very large state. 

2. You mention "a sense of connection to Missouri migrants."  Most people go to Texas to see birds they don't see here. At the outset, you need to make a "quality vs. quantity" decision. Do you want to go for Texas specialties (i.e. "quality") or a big trip list and diversity  (i.e. "quantity")?

3. Texas is, in my opinion, the most "birder friendly" state, but, with a few exceptions, it is relatively short on spectacular natural beauty. When you talk of "splendor" and of being "overwhelmed by beauty" I think of Roseate Spoonbills, egrets and ibis; I don't think of  snow-capped mountains or even of rolling prairies.   

4. There are some good books available. You ought to borrow or buy the following both for planning and to guide you when you are there:

Cooksey & Weeks, A Birder's Guide to the Texas Coast (ABA, 2006)
Lockwood, McKinney, Paton & Zimmer, A Birder's Guide to the Rio Grande Valley, fourth edition (ABA, 2008).

See also other books listed at (i.e. ABA sales).

5. Basically, I see two big choices: The Upper Texas Coast (i.e. Bolivar Flats, High Island, Anahuac NWR) during April or the Lower Rio Grande Valley (including S. Padre Island, Laguna Atascosa NWR, Santa Anna NWR, Bentsen State Park & perhaps Salineno, Chipeno and Falcon Dam up stream) at any time (but early winter is good). 

6. It is possible to do a lot in one 7-10 day trip. But it is hectic. On my last 10-day trip, I flew to San Antonio in April and rented a car, spent a couple of days in the "hill county" getting Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo, drove to "The Valley" and picked up Red-billed Pigeon at Salineno and Muscovy Duck at Chipeno, spent a night and a half day birding with my friends, Mel and Arlie Cooksey of Corpus Christi, then drove to Galveston, Bolivar Flats, High Island, etc. , where I saw 34 shorebird species in one day and picked up Yellow Rail at Anahuac and witnessed a "fallout" at High Island, then back to San Antonio and home. 

7. If you have heard a lot about High Island, you need to put it into perspective. I saw only about 20 species of warblers in 4-5 days there - i.e. less than you can get on a good day in Missouri. The fallout occurred only after a bad storm; there were incredible numbers of exhausted song birds, but I watched them in pouring rain. What was especially good about High Island was to see warblers that are hard to see here -- e.g. Bay-breasted, Cerulean, Golden-winged and Hooded Warbler - often and at close range.

Get the books. Check out what you might see, and plan your trip. 

Please feel free to aks me questions off list.

Good luck. 

Bob Fisher
Independence, MO
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The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
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