Encompassing more than 800,000 acres, this Texas park is an incredible place for bird watching, named for the “big bend” in the Rio Grande River that forms the southern boundary of the Chihuahuan Desert. Big Bend National Park is a Texas treasure itself, a place where artifacts over 9,000 years old have been discovered, a place where deserts, canyons, rivers and mountains can be explored. Running along the Rio Grande River, the geographical border between the United States and Mexico, over 450 species of birds can be found here. Big Bend National Park is an exciting Texas bird watching spot because it is the eastern limit of many western birds and the western limits of many eastern birds. As a result, many interesting species of birds can be seen here. It is also home to unique species such as the Lucifer Hummingbird and the Mexican Jay. Below is a guide to finding and identifying just a few of the species of birds you may see while bird watching in Texas at Big Bend National Park.
Flammulated Owl. This little owl (only six inches tall) can be found while bird watching in Big Bend National Park in its pine forests. Unlike many owls, this little bird is migratory, nesting in Canada and the Northern United States before making its way South for the winter. Also unlike other owls, it does not normally eat mice or other small animals, preferring to just dine on insects. This is probably why they migrate south in the winter. Look for it while bird watching in the Texas forests of Big Bend National Park during the winter months.
Crissal Thrasher. Look for this large bird’s long, downward curving bill, dark brown feathers and reddish undertail. You will see it while bird watching in the Texas desert at Big Bend National Park. If you disturb a Crissal Thrasher, it will run away instead of flying away. These birds usually nest closely underneath tree branches. It also sings a beautiful song.
Lucifer Hummingbird. Recognize this small hummingbird while bird watching in Big Bend National Park from its iridescent green body, magenta throat and white eyestripe. It also has a dark forked tail and white underparts. You will see this little hummingbird while bird watching in Texas in the desert at Big Bend National Park. It is especially fond of agave, so look for these small birds if you see that type of succulent. In addition to drinking nectar, Lucifer Hummingbirds eat spiders.
Mexican Jay. This large bird is very pretty, with blue wings, a blue head, and a gray-blue back. It also has white underparts and a long tail. This social bird lives in groups (five to 25 birds) in the Texas Chisos Mountains of the Big Bend National Park, preferring piney areas. These birds eat insects, nuts, other birds’ eggs, and even small reptiles.
Montezuma Quail. This small quail is a native of Mexico, and it only ventures into the southern regions of New Mexico, Arizona and Texas. Look for its striking black and white face, including a black chin, and barring across its back. It also has a very short tail. Look for this rare bird in the Texas Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park.
Colima Warbler. You’ll recognize this warbler from its dark gray feathers, white underside and yellow rump. The males have an orange spot on their heads. These warblers are larger than the Virginia Warbler but otherwise very similar looking. Look for them in the Texas Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park.