If you love bird watching, and if observing the spring and fall migrations of birds is fascinating to you, there is no better spot in Texas for you to visit than the Big Thicket Preserve. The Big Thicket National Preserve was established in 1974, and has birding habitats that include hardwood forests, swamps, meadows, plains, deserts and so much more. Baltimore Orioles, Magnolia Warblers, Louisiana Water Thrushes and many, many more birds pass through the Texas Big Thicket on their way to and from their winter homes. In fact, the Texas Big Thicket is considered by some as one of the greatest gathering places on the Gulf Coast for migratory birds. Big Thicket also has some year round Texas residents for you to enjoy while bird watching, including the Belted Kingfisher, Pileated Woodpecker, Green Heron, Wood Duck, and many others. For some tips on finding and identifying just a few of the 500 species you may observe while bird watching in the Big Thicket, see below.
Belted Kingfisher. Look for this fisherman while bird watching close to the water (swamps and bogs) in the Big Thicket. It has a large head and a shaggy chest, and will frequently hover above the water before diving in after its prey. This kingfisher’s head, back and neck ring are dark blue against a white chest.
Pied-billed Grebe. This diving duck likes to swim with just its head above water, an odd sight the first time you observe one. Look for it while bird watching along the bogs and swamps of the Big Thicket in Texas. It has a brown head and body with a white bill and tail. The short, chicken-like bill also has a black ring on it.
Wood Thrush. You will see this cinnamon colored thrush, which is about the size of a robin, when bird watching in the hardwood forests of the Big Thicket. Also look for its white breast, which has large spots (they look almost like polka dots.) You may see them foraging on the ground, hunting for insects, while you are bird watching at this Texas preserve.
Purple Martin. These martins can be found in the meadows and fields of the Big Thicket in Texas, swooping through the air for dragonflies, beetles and wasps. This is the largest of the North American swallow family, and can be identified while bird watching from its unmistakable black feathers with their purple-blue sheen.
Chimney Swift. This small bird is a charcoal gray color, paler on the underside, with a short bristly tail and wings that curve backward. You can distinguish this bird from swallows by its lack of forked tail. Look for them while bird watching in forests with tall trees at the Big Thicket.
Eastern Screech-Owl. Look for these very small owls (maybe 8 inches tall) in the early evening while bird watching in the forests of the Big Thicket. You will see them hunting for insects, although they also eat small fish and frogs. These owls are usually gray, but occasionally you may see a red morph at the Texas Big Thicket preserve.