Texas is for the birds. Some 640 species, from Roseate Spoonbills to Bald Eagles can be found in all parts of the Lone Star State. Here are ten top spots to birdwatch, and what you might see at each place:
Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge: The 34,000-acre refuge by East Galveston Bay envelops grasslands, marshes, ponds, oak trees and legions of birds. Species such as Snowy Egret, Tri-colored Heron, White Ibis and Roseate Spoonbill reside all year. Migratory songbirds such as Yellow Warbler and Baltimore Oriole abound in spring. In wintertime, ducks and geese bedeck the landscape.
Brazos Bend State Park: The 5,000-acre park along the Brazos River bristles with birds among woodlands, lakes and prairies. Myriad migratory birds move through the park, with species such as Northern Parula and Painted Bunting staying to breed. Waterfowl include Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead and Hooded Merganser arrive for the winter. Bald Eagles nesting nearby soar overhead.
Rockport-Fulton: The charming coastal community's Rockport Beach Park offers close observations of egrets, terns, gulls, plovers, sandpipers and a blanket of nesting Black Skimmers. Nearby Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is the winter home for highly endangered Whooping Cranes. September's zillion Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arriving to feast on flower nectar before migrating to Central America inspires the annual HummerBird Celebration.
Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park: The 706-acre park's captivating tropical landscape is a birder's paradise hosting resident tropical species seen nowhere else in North America except South Texas. Birds include Plain Chachalaca, Ringed Kingfisher and Green Jay, plus possible rarities like Blue Bunting and Roadside Hawk.
Lost Maples State Natural Area: The 2,174-acre park along the Sabinal River embraces beautiful stands of Uvalde Bigtooth Maple trees plus a wide variety of birds. Species such as Wild Turkey, Zone-tailed Hawk, Canyon Wren, Curved-billed Thrasher and Lesser Goldfinch live within the enchanting woodlands, grasslands and rugged cliffs.
Pedernales Falls State Park: Situated on the Pedernales River, the 5,211-acre park's forested terrain provides a snapshot of Hill Country birds. Among plentiful resident birds are Western Scrub Jay and Rufous-crowned Sparrow. Summer species include Northern Bobwhite, Black-chinned Hummingbird and Spotted Towhee. The headline bird is Golden-cheeked Warbler that migrates from Mexico to nest solely in the Hill Country.
Big Bend National Park: Encompassing a landmass the size of Rhode Island, the park's scenic mountains, verdant deserts and river plains hold a treasure trove of birds. Spectacular summer birds include Scott's Oriole, Vermillion Flycatcher and Varied Bunting. Gorgeous hummingbirds include Blue-throated, Rufous and Lucifer. A prized bird is the Colima Warbler, a Mexican species that nests nowhere else in North America except in the park's Chisos Mountains and in the Fort Davis mountains farther north, but birders must trek the Chisos to see it.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park: The 27,173-acre park rests in a spectacular gorge second in size only to the Grand Canyon. Juniper, cottonwood and hackberry trees support such nesting birds as Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Black-crested Titmouse and Bullock's Oriole. Magnificent raptors include Mississippi Kite and Golden Eagle.
Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge: The 11,320-acre refuge at Lake Texoma teems with winter flocks of Snow geese, Ross's geese and Canada geese along with scores of winter ducks such as American Wigeon, Gadwall and Northern Pintail. Nesting birds may include Broad-winged Hawk, Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Northern Rough-winged Swallow.
Big Thicket National Preserve: The preserve is a seven-county network of 112,250 acres supporting forests, creeks and rivers. Diverse plant communities from cacti to cypress swamps attract diverse birds, including breeding migratory songbirds such as Hooded Warbler and Yellow-throated Vireo. Highly sought birds are resident Brown-headed Nuthatch, Bachman's Sparrow and endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker.
Text courtesy www.chron.com
Green Jay, copyright Frank Mantlik
Showing the 35 Most Recent Trip Reports Posted
Texas, Tennessee (and bits in between), 4th April - 16th May 2002, author Surfbirds Admin (added September 9, 2004)
Texas - Lower Rio Grande Valley Feb 2003 (wintering rarities), author Surfbirds Admin (added September 9, 2004)
Houston Area and the Trans Pecos, 12th - 26th April 2003, author Alan Whitehead (added September 9, 2004)
Davis Mountains and Big Bend National Park, May 9th - 15th 2004, author Surfbirds Admin (added September 9, 2004)
Texas, High Island and Upper Gulf Coast, August 31st - September 1st 2003, author Surfbirds Admin (added September 9, 2004)
Texas, Upper coast, High Island Fallout - April 8th - 24th 2001, author Surfbirds Admin (added September 9, 2004)
USA - West Texas Summer... before Fan-tailed Warbler - June 23rd - August 24th, 2007, author Forrest Rowland (added September 3, 2007)
(Painted Redstart, Tropical Kingbird, Gray Hawk, Zone-tailed Hawk, Montezuma Quail, Reptiles, Mammals)
USA Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas Nov 07: Illustrated Report of 5 day trip, author Stephen Burch (link created November 28, 2007)
(Audubon's Oriole, Altamira Oriole, Hooded Oriole, Clay Colored Robin)
Rio Grande Valley, Texas on a College Student’s Budget: March 12-19, 2011, author Alex Harper (added March 24, 2011)
(Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Falcon Dam State Park)
USA - Whooping Cranes - Aransas and San Bernard NWR - March 2009, author Jeffrey Mohamed (added March 16, 2009)
(Fulton, Rockport, Aransas, San Bernard, Whooping Crane, Bald Eagle, American Bittern)
US Texas, Big Bend National Park - March 11th- 12th 2005, author buckskinhawk (added March 16, 2005)
(Big Bend, National Park, Texas, Southwest US, Golden-fronted Woodpecker,)
Three Canucks and a Yankee do the Lower Rio Grande Valley - 19-25 June 2005, author Sandy Ayer (added July 21, 2005)
(Our team visited a number of sites over a five-day period and managed to see all but a handful of our target species outside the high season)
ABA Area Big Day Record Broken - Texas 2008, author Ken Behrens (link created July 19, 2008)
(In the late hours of April 19th, 2008, a team consisting of Cameron Cox, Pete Hosner, Michael Retter, and myself stood in darkness at the Port Aransas Birding Center on the Texas coast)
Texas – Gulf Coast and Rio Grande Valley April 21st – May 5th 2007, author Phil Ramsgate (added December 19, 2007)
(The following tale of woe tells the story of our two week US stay as we travelled between the Gulf coast at High Island, down to the Rio Grande then up onto the Edwards Plateau and back to the coast.)
USA - Texas, author Clayton Burne (link created December 11, 2010)
(High Island, Anahuac, Edwards Plateau, Rio Grande, Cerulean Warbler, Canada Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Painted Bunting, Yellow Rail, Franklin's Gull, Western Scrub Jay, Greater Roadrunner, Pyrrhuloxia, Scott's Oriole, Altamira Oriole, Clay-coloured Robin)
Showing the 5 Latest Recent Sightings Posted See More