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Top Birds of Texas: A Complete Guide to Identification and Habitat

birds of texas

Texas is a birdwatcher’s paradise. With over 600 species on the state checklist, some resident and others migratory, there is an incredible diversity of birds that call Texas home. From tiny hummingbirds to majestic birds of prey, the opportunities to spot feathered friends are endless. This article will explore some of the most popular, unique, and rare Birds of Texas to help enthusiasts make the most of their sighting opportunities.

Unique and Rare Birds of Texas

Northern Cardinal

Birds of Texas Northern Cardinal

The bright red male Northern Cardinal is one of the most easily spotted and recognized Birds of Texas. As a year-round resident, it brings a festive flash of color to backyards, parks, and woodland edges across the state. Watch for these birds at feeders or listen for their loud, metallic “chip” call.

Carolina Wren

Birds of Texas Carolina Wren

The Carolina Wren is a small but loud Birds of Texas, belting out its rollicking song across many habitats. Look and listen for them in shrubbery and dense vegetation. They have rich brown upperparts and a conspicuous white eyebrow stripe.

Painted Bunting

Birds of Texas Painted Bunting

Few Birds of Texas can rival the jewel-colored plumage of a male Painted Bunting. With an eye-popping pattern of red, green, yellow, and blue, they resemble painted birds. Search for them at wildlife refuges and parks in south Texas.

Green Jay

Birds of Texas Green Jay

Birds of Texas don’t get much more dazzling than Green Jays. These exotic-looking jays have bright green wings, back, and tail contrasting with their yellowish-white belly. Find them in Rio Grande Valley woodlands where their raucous “ree-kree-kree” calls ring out. 

Exploring the Doves of Texas

White-winged Dove

Birds of Texas
Source Facebook

In summer, watch for flocks of White-winged Doves wheeling overhead and perched on wires across south Texas. These pale gray doves have distinct white bands on their wings when in flight. Their mournful cooing adds to the ambiance of rural areas. 

Mourning Dove 

Birds of Texas Mourning Dove
Source Facebook

Perhaps the most widespread and familiar bird of Texas is the graceful Mourning Dove. A year-round resident, their soft cooing emanates from backyards statewide. Watch for their swift direct flight and neat outline marked by a slim tail.

The Hummingbirds of Texas

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Birds of Texas Ruby Throated Hummingbird
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Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are petite summer visitors seen across eastern Texas. The male’s flashy red throat brightens backyards as they aggressively defend nectar sources. Listen for the whirring drone of their wings during flight.

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Birds of Texas Black Chinned Hummingbird
Source Facebook

In western Texas, keep an eye out for the Black-chinned Hummingbird. The male’s throat has a dark violet patch and they have pale fringes on their outer tail feathers. Their thin, squeaky song echoes near overgrown streamsides during the breeding season.

Texas Woodpeckers

Downy Woodpecker 

Birds of Texas Downy Woodpecker
Source Facebook

The Downy Woodpecker is a common bird of Texas, widespread in wooded areas and parks statewide. At about 6 inches long, they are one of the smallest woodpeckers. Watch for their black and white ladder-backed appearance and listen for their whinnying call as they tap on trees.  

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Birds of Texas Ladder Backed Woodpecker
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True to their name, Ladder-backed Woodpeckers have neat black and white barred backs that resemble a ladder. Their ringing calls give away their presence in scrublands and open woodlands of west Texas. Watch for them investigating tall yucca plants and wooden posts.

Birds of Prey in Texas

Black Vulture

Birds of Texas Black Vulture
Source Facebook

An abundant Birds of Texas year-round is the Black Vulture. They soar high in the thermals looking for carrion and are identified by their small size, short tail, and silver wingtips. Roosting flocks stain trees white with their droppings beneath their communal nests. 

Red-tailed Hawk

Birds of Texas Red Tailed Hawk

No Birds of Texas article would be complete without mentioning Red-tailed Hawks. These raptors are seen and heard statewide with their trademark red upper tail and piercing scream of a call. Look for them surveying fields from elevated perches like utility poles ready to plunge on rodents.  

Protecting Texas’s Avian Wildlife 

With habitats in the Lonestar State facing pressure from development and fragmentation, conserving areas for Birds of Texas is critical. Wildlife refuges need volunteers and funding while projects like the Great Texas Birding Trail promote eco-tourism across designated sites. Contact local parks departments and groups like the Audubon Society or the Native Plant Society of Texas to learn how you can make a difference for birds through habitat conservation, ethical bird feeding, and more.


For birders, Texas provides endless opportunities to spot majestic raptors, tiny songbirds, south Texas specialties, and much more. Graced by Cardinals and painted buntings, noisy with wrens and jays, the wild Birds of Texas await. Protecting habitat allows generations to come to marvel at their beauty and fascinating behaviors. This article only covered a fraction of what Texas offers those who love observing our feathered friends. So pack your binoculars, bird books, and enthusiasm to discover incredible avian diversity unique to the Lone Star State.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some of the most common birds seen in Texas?

Some of the most widespread and familiar birds found across Texas include the northern cardinal, northern mockingbird, great-tailed grackle, mourning dove, red-winged blackbird, scissortail flycatcher, turkey vulture, and barn swallow.

What Texas birds are popular for birdwatching?

Top birds that birders love spotting in Texas include roseate spoonbills, painted buntings, green jays, golden-cheeked warblers, whooping cranes, Montezuma quail, red-cockaded woodpeckers, and tropical parrots that sometimes wander into the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

Which birds are unique to Texas?

Texas has three endemic bird species found nowhere else, including the golden-cheeked warbler, black-capped vireo, and white-tailed hawk. Other specialty birds like the plain chachalaca and great kiskadee have very limited ranges in the U.S. apart from southern Texas.

What are some common Texan backyard birds?

Birds commonly seen making their home in backyards and neighborhoods across Texas include northern cardinals, Carolina chickadees, Carolina wrens, blue jays, house finches, house sparrows, northern mockingbirds, mourning doves, and black-crested titmice.

Where are the best places to go birding in Texas?

Famous Texas birding sites and hotspots include the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail along the Gulf Coast, High Island, Sabine Woods, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Pedernales Falls State Park, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Big Bend National Park, and the Davis Mountains.

What birds migrate through Texas each year?

A huge number of bird species pass through Texas along the Central Flyway twice a year on epic migrations between breeding and wintering grounds, with highlights including raptors, hummingbirds, warblers, orioles, buntings and numerous shorebirds and waterfowl.

What is the state bird of Texas?

The northern mockingbird is the officially designated state bird of Texas. Known for its varied song repertoire, it can be found year-round across all parts of the Lone Star State in habitats ranging from thickets to city parks.

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