5 Excellent Spots for Winter Bird Watching in Texas

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During the winter, many creatures head south to escape the cold temperatures. Among these creatures are birds. Birds flock (literally) to Texas to ride out the winter in our moderate weather and this makes for some excellent bird watching all over the state.

Here are five of the best spots for winter bird watching in Texas:

1. Galveston Island State Park


Photo: Flickr/liz west

Birds from throughout the eastern hemisphere visit Galveston during the spring and fall migration seasons. You can see wading and shorebirds, mottled and mallard ducks, and more. Galveston Island State Park has recorded more than 300 bird species in the park.

2. Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park


Photo: Flickr/Dominic Sherony

Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park is a world-class destination for bird-watching. The Rio Grande Valley hosts one of the most spectacular convergences of birds on earth with more than 525 species documented in this unique place. Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park alone has an impressive list of 358 species recorded within the park’s boundaries. Birders have a chance to see migratory birds during their yearly migrations over the valley including flocks of thousands of hawks from the park’s Hawk Tower in the spring and fall. Some birders travel to the Bentsen to see bird species they can’t find anyplace else in the country – from the Green Jay and the Buff-bellied Hummingbird to the Great Kiskadee and the Altamira Oriole.

3. Choke Canyon State Park


Photo: Flickr/Manjith Kainckara

The Bureau of Reclamation and the American Birding Asso­ci­a­tion have rec­og­nized Choke Canyon Res­er­voir as a place of special im­por­tance for birds and bird­watchers. Large numbers and varieties of birds come to the water and to the adjacent uplands. You might even see a crested caracara (Mexican eagle). Many (typically Mexican) species of birds are near the northern limits of their range here. As a result, this is one of Texas’ finest places to watch birds.

4. Dinosaur Valley State Park

bird watching

Photo: Flickr/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

Birders can see many species of both resident and migrant birds, including wild turkeys at Dinosaur Valley State Park. Two species of endangered birds live in the park: golden-cheeked warblers and black-capped vireos.

5. Resaca de la Palma State Park


Photo: Flickr/John Sutton

Resaca de la Palma State Park is an especially rich birding environment. Colorful Neotropical and Nearctic migrants — like the Summer Tanager, American Redstart, and Yellow-breasted Chat – have been noted here more often and in higher numbers. When resaca levels are controlled for the benefit of wildlife, species like the Least Grebe, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Purple Gallinule and various herons, as well as migrating waterfowl in their seasons, should also congregate there. The property’s dense ground-level vegetation is especially attractive to species like the Olive Sparrow, Long-billed Thrasher, and White-eyed Vireo, along with all the “Valley specialties.”

To learn more about birding in Texas and to see a listing of all birdwatching events in Texas’ State Parks, visit the website for Texas Parks and Wildlife.