Warblers are fun to observe in Houston, Texas. Some summer here, some winter here, some come to nest and others are just passing through. Warblers come in many sizes, shapes, and colors, and the antics of these little birds can be very funny to watch. Including the vagrants, over fifty species of warblers flit in and out of Texas each year, and many of them can be seen in Houston at one time or another. Look for them in forests and fields, high in trees and foraging on the ground.
When bird watching for warblers in Houston, Texas, watch for certain species during certain times of the year as they migrate. Some arrive early (Yellow-throated and Black-and-white), some mid-season (Prothonotary and American Redstart) and some arrive much later (Blackburnian and Cerulean.) Of course, you will see variations in migration patterns, but if you are interested in seeing a particular species of warbler in Houston, Texas, pay attention to its migration patterns.
Below are descriptions of some species of warblers you may see while bird watching in Houston, Texas, as well as where, when, and how to distinguish them from each other.
Black-throated Green Warbler. This little warbler passes through Houston, Texas on its way home from wintering in Mexico and Central America. You can identify it while bird watching from its black bib and bright yellow face. Look for this warbler in woodlands and forests during the spring. Its crown and back are olive green, with two white wingbars.
Blackburnian Warbler. You will see this striking warbler while bird watching in both the spring and fall in Houston, Texas. Sometimes hard to find because of their habit of hanging out very high in trees, look for their bright orange faces and throats and black face masks. They have broad white wingbars, too.
Yellow-throated Warbler. These warblers love swamps with tall trees and pine forests. You’ll see them while bird watching in the spring, and occasionally during breeding season in Houston, Texas. Look for a yellow throat and chest, gray back and black face. They also have white eyestripes and ear patches.
Pine Warbler. A large warbler, it is common in Houston, Texas all year round. They have yellow throats and chests, and two white wingbars. Pine warblers can be easily attracted to your yard with suet feeders. They nest high in trees, building with pine needles and pieces of pine bark.
Prairie Warbler. Despite their name, you will find these warblers in scrub fields and forests, or thickets and swamps. You will see them while bird watching in the spring and fall in Houston, Texas. They have olive green upper parts and a yellow throat and belly. Look for black streaks on their face and side. You’ll also recognize them from their wagging tails.
Palm Warbler. More a coastal bird than a visitor to Houston, Texas, you can still see them while bird watching at Smith Point and Horseshoe Marsh Bird Sanctuaries. Watch for its brown back and chestnut cap while bird watching, as well as its habit of constantly wagging its tail and exposing its bright yellow rump. Look for them from late October through April. This warbler breeds in bogs and winters in the Southern United States and the Caribbean.
Bay-breasted Warbler. Common in Houston, Texas in the spring but not the fall, look for this large warbler while bird watching in forests and woodlands. It has a black face with a chestnut head and throat as well as two broad white wingbars. Populations of this warbler have been declining due to the spraying of bud spruce caterpillars, one of its main food sources.
Blackpoll Warbler. You can distinguish this warbler from the Black-and-white by looking for its black cap. They also have white cheeks and a white throat, along with two white wingbars. Look for them while bird watching in the woodlands of Houston, Texas. They migrate to Brazil for the winter.
Cerulean Warbler. This gorgeous little sky blue bird nests and forages high in the canopy of trees in forests close to water. Look for it two broad white wingbars, as well as its white eyestripe, while bird watching in Houston, Texas. These warblers migrate in early spring, and have been sighted at the Smith Oaks Sanctuary at High Island, as well as the Edith l. Moore Nature Sanctuary.
Black-and-white Warbler. A very distinctive little bird, this warbler almost looks as if it has black and white stripes on its feathers. Look for them in both the spring and the fall while bird watching in Houston, Texas. They creep along trunks and branches foraging like nuthatches, and are very funny to watch.
American Redstart. Common in Houston, Texas, you won’t be able to miss this bright orange and black warbler once you start looking for it while bird watching. It frequently fans and flashes its tail while spreading its wings, trying to flush insects from foliage. These warblers have a black head, back and throat, with orange patches on its flight feathers and tail.
Prothonotary Warbler. A gorgeous bird, you’ll see quite a few of these warblers in Houston, Texas during its spring migration. This is a large warbler, with a brilliant yellow head and chest and grey wings. Look for it in wooded swamps, where it likes to nest in woodpecker holes.