The Bolivar Peninsula, which extends from just west of Louisiana almost to Galveston Island, is bordered on the south by the Gulf and on the north by Galveston Bay. As you get farther east on the peninsula, the bay ends, and you have marshes and grasslands. And that’s where you’ll find High Island, which isn’t actually an island; it’s a salt dome that rises about thirty feet out of the marshes, a high elevation for that part of the state. There are trees there, which have turned it into a stopping place for birds making the seven-hundred-mile flight across the Gulf. It’s one of the best places in the country for birding.
The bird most people want to see is the American wood warbler, which is found only in the New World; about 35 kinds of warblers come through in the spring. There are also rose-breasted grosbeaks, Baltimore orioles, and scarlet tanagers, which are dazzlingly colorful—they’re scarlet, with black wings and a black tail. You never know what’s going to show up. All of a sudden a blackburnian warbler with a glowing orange throat could be bathing, then there will be a Kentucky warbler, yellow with a beautiful black mustache.
All you can think is “What will come today?”
—as told to Katy Vine
Victor Emanuel’s memoir, One More Warbler: A Life With Birds, will be published by UT Press on May 9.