State parks offer some of the best bird watching during spring migration, summer nesting, fall hawk watches and hummingbird migrations. They even offer great birding throughout the winter!
Birdwatching Opportunities at State Parks, by Region
Big Bend Country
Davis Mountains State Park - Birders flock to this Trans-Pecos park for a chance to see the rare Montezuma Quail, which is a year-round resident. Other resident species include the Acorn Woodpecker, Western Scrub-Jay, Bushtit, Curve-billed Thrasher, Canyon Towhee and Rufous-crowned Sparrow. The threatened Common Black-Hawk can be seen nesting along Limpia Creek near the park from March to September.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park - At this popular Panhandle park, birding enthusiasts can expect to be serenaded by Rock and Canyon Wrens along the cliffs. In the woodlands along the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River, Golden-fronted Woodpeckers are easy to find. The summer chorus from the cottonwoods along the river includes the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Blue Grosbeak and Bullock's Oriole, along with a host of resident species.
San Angelo State Park - Over 300 species of birds either live in or migrate through this park, which is located at the juncture of four ecological zones. Birders and visitors may use the birding/wildlife blind, walk along the pecan tree-covered North Concho River, or join in on the regularly scheduled "Birding Adventure" that is held the third Saturday of every month.
Kickapoo Cavern State Park - The endangered Black-capped Vireo is a highlight at this park, which is located northeast of Del Rio. This species arrives in late March for nesting and departs in mid-September. Its cousin, the Gray Vireo, can also be found during the nesting season. Cave Swallows are abundant at Stuart Bat Cave, while several "borderland specialties"--including the Zone-tailed Hawk, Elf Owl, Vermilion Flycatcher, Varied Bunting and Hooded Oriole--are seen regularly.
Prairies and Lakes
Fort Parker State Park - Surrounded by woodlands, this park offers habitats for water birds and forest birds. Red-headed Woodpeckers are easy to find year-round. Among the rafts of wood ducks on the lake, look for Anhinga, a large, dark water bird with long, loosely-jointed tail. A variety of herons and egrets use the trees surrounding the lake, especially Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night Herons.
Caddo Lake State Park - A spring and summer chorus of Prothonotary and Yellow-throated Warblers along the maze of tree-lined canals characterizes this birding spot. Mature floodplain woodlands and cypress-lined waterways with thickets provide food and shelter for typical Northeast Texas birds. A silent canoe ride through the maze of canals will reveal Wood Ducks in abundance, along with a variety of other waterfowl, herons and egrets.
Goose Island State Park - More than 20 species of warblers can be found in a single day at this park. Flycatchers, vireos, tanagers, buntings and orioles live in the oak woodlands.
Sea Rim State Park - This is a great place to see a wide variety of bird species. Visitors can also enjoy wildlife-viewing and birdwatching on the Gambusia Boardwalk trail, which extends into the marsh.
South Texas Plains
World Birding Center - Three state parks and six municipal sites make up the World Birding Center, a series of sites in South Texas dedicated to bird conservation, land restoration and visitor experience. A number of tropical species found nowhere else in the United States reach the northern limits of their range in the Rio Grande Valley. Sought-after birds include chachalacas, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls, Red-billed and White-tipped Pigeons, Buff-bellied Hummingbirds, Northern Bearded Tyrannulets, Great Kiskadee, Rose-throated Becards, Green Jays, Clay-colored Thrush, Blue Buntings and Altamira Orioles.
Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park (part of the World Birding Center) - One of top birding destinations in the country, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in deep South Texas well deserves its status as headquarters of the World Birding Center. Birders across the nation know Bentsen as a treasure trove of "Valley specialties," tropical birds found nowhere else in the United States. The 760-acre Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, together with over 1,700 acres of adjoining U.S. Fish and Wildlife refuge tracts, promises a year-round nature adventure in the richest birding area north of the Mexican border.
Estero Llano Grande State Park (part of the World Birding Center) - At the geographic center of the World Birding Center network, Estero Llano Grande in Weslaco attracts a spectacular array of South Texas wildlife with its varied landscape of shallow lake, woodlands and thorn forest. Even beginning birders and nature lovers will enjoy exploring this 230 plus-acre refuge, which is convenient to all the Rio Grande Valley has to offer.
Resaca de la Palma (part of the World Birding Center) - Brownsville's Resaca de la Palma boasts the largest tract of native habitat in the World Birding Center network. Etched by ancient curves of the Rio Grande, its 1200 semi-tropical acres provide a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of an international urban center only a few miles away. Through the cooperation of local and federal land management agencies, a wilderness preserved from days gone by is open to nature adventurers for the first time.
Best Birding Blinds at State Parks
From observation platforms to enclosed shelters and traditional birding blinds, these parks offer optimal perches to experience some of the best birding in Texas.