Texas is a fantastic state for bird enthusiasts. It has miles of coastline, grassland, scrubland, and mountains, and a climate that varies from semi-arid to downright drippy. In short, Texas is diverse, and it has a diverse bird population. Three-quarters of all species of American birds can be found in Texas – and they are waiting to be viewed by you.
Rare Whooping Cranes, pelicans and roseate pelicans are but a few of the species that populate the almost 650 miles of coastline in the Texas Gulf Coast region. A trip to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the San Antonio Bay – between Corpus Christi and Houston – is essential for anyone interested in bird watching in Texas. Over 115,000 acres on the Blackjack Peninsula, Matagorda Island and more provide a haven for migratory birds, including the endangered whooping crane.
The Texas Panhandle is an ideal place to spot prairie chickens, horned larks and baldpate and pintail migrants. Check out the Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge, the oldest NWR in Texas. When there is sufficient water, thousands of sandhill cranes winter here between December and February. While the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas is the place to seek tropical birds such as Inca and white winged; indeed, without leaving the country this is the only spot to view white-fronted doves, green jays and chachalacas. Be sure to stop by the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge when visiting this region.
The Texas Hill Country is the place to find huge flocks of wild turkeys, roadrunners and rare golden-cheeked warblers. While the pine forests of East Texas offer an entirely different Texas bird watching experience. Look for wood thrash and swallow-tailed kites here; and rumor has it that ivory-billed woodpeckers – once thought extinct – still dwell here.
With such a diverse landscape and such a large variety of birds, Texas is the place to be for bird watching. Consider a statewide trip, staying in different Texas bed and breakfasts along the way. Don’t forget your binoculars.