Here's our list of best birding locations in Texas (in no particular order). I'm sure there are many great places that we haven't heard about. If you would like to share your list of best birding locations, please contact us.
South Llano River state park has at least four bird blinds that are well maintained and kept stocked with food and water. We have only visited the park during the Spring migration season (April/May), but we have never been disappointed with the number and variety of species we have had the privilege to see. It is a great location to see the Painted Bunting, Indigo Bunting, Summer Tanager, Vermillion Flycatcher and even the endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler.
Estero Llano Grande State Park is one of the nine World Birding Centers of the Rio Grande Valley. We spent an entire day strolling slowly along the trails that separate the ponds of the large wetland habitat, and saw many species of ducks, avocets, grebes, stilts, kingfishers, and kiskadees. There's also a Tropical Area of the park where we saw orioles, grosbeaks and Green Jays. We will always include Estero Llano Grande State Park on our south Texas birding trips.
Goose Island State Park has a unique combination of sea and woodland bird habitats that provide a perfect place for migrating birds to recharge after their long journeys. Along the shores of Aransas Bay, you can see various gulls, pelicans, cormorants, and herons. A little further inland, amongst the live oaks and mesquites, you'll find many buntings, grosbeaks, and warblers during the migration seasons. Both times we visited the park, we met up with Larry and Judy (the park hosts) for a guided bird walk.
The South Padre Island Nature Center located on the southern tip of Padre Island in the grass flats of the Laguna Madre. It has a mile-long boardwalk that extends over the grasslands that provides an excellent viewing location for the many sea birds that live in the area year round (ospreys, herons, gulls, ducks, and pelicans), as well as the hundreds of birds that migrate through south Texas in the Spring and Fall.
Benson Rio Grande Valley State Park is located along the shores of the Rio Grande river. This Texas state park is the headquarters of the nine World Birding Centers located in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas. It has several bird species that can't be found anywhere else in the country, including Green Jays, Altamira Orioles, Buff-bellied Hummingbirds and Great Kiskadees. The park has a tram that runs throughout the part to shuttle birders to the many bird blinds and Hawk Observation Tower.
Brazos Bend State Park is located about an hour from downtown Houston. Birding was generally excellent in the park, especially along the Spillway Trail that separates Elm Lake and 40 Acre Lake - just watch out for the gators!
Davis Mountains State Park is well-known, among the Texas birders, for its superb birding. We have no complaints. There are two main bird blinds in the park that attract many birds that we don't get to see in Central Texas. The first time we visited the park, we saw Black-headed Grosbeaks, Mexican Scrub Jays, Phainopeplas, Scott's Orioles and the famed Montezuma Quail.
Resaca De La Palma State Park is one of the nine World Birding Center locations. We received first-class treatment when we visited the park on a hot Wednesday morning in 2015. Using the tram, one of the park rangers took us on a guided tour through the park and showed us some key points of interest; an owl house that he had made (with a Screech Owl looking out the entrance hole); and a camouflaged Common Pauraque nested on the ground near the Kiskadee Trail.
Quinta Mazatlan is another one of the nine world birding centers of the Rio Grande Valley. We weren't expecting to see many birds at Quinta Mazatlan, but we were pleasantly surprised. The adobe hacienda is located on 15 acres of excellent bird habitat. We walked very slowly along the trails, stopping frequently to examine all of the branches of the trees and shrubs, and saw many birds including; Nashville Warblers, Buff-bellied Hummingbirds, and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
Choke Canyon State Park is located on the shores of the Choke Canyon Reservoir. It has two units, the South Shore and Calliham. We visited the South Shore unit about 10 years ago and saw many Vermillion Flycatchers and Scott's Orioles below Choke Canyon Dam. In 2014, we camped at the Calliham unit and saw several birds while hiking the park's trails; Curve-billed Thrashers, Couch's Kingbirds, Vermillion Flycatchers, Wild Turkeys, and Green Jays.
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