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Backyard Birds in Texas: Top Species and How to Attract Them (2023)

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backyard birds of texasThe morning chorus is calling. Step outside and let your inner naturalist take flight as the comforting coos of Mourning Doves and fluty songs of Northern Cardinals welcome you to the avian splendor of Texas.

Embrace your wanderlust spirit – this guide will introduce you to the top backyard birds, regional favorites, tips to attract them, and insider info on the best places to spread your wings.

So grab your binoculars, fill those feeders, and join the flock of bird lovers finding freedom in nature’s backyard.

Whether you’re a novice birder or seasoned expert, we’ll cover how to identify birds by sight and sound so you can truly connect with our fine feathered friends.

The Lone Star State’s diverse habitats host over 600 species – an ornithological treasure waiting to be uncovered.

Let’s discover the birds of Texas together!

Key Takeaways

  • Cardinals, mockingbirds, and mourning doves are top backyard birds in Texas.
  • Painted buntings have colorful, rainbow plumage.
  • Woodpeckers like downy and red-bellied woodpeckers are attracted by suet feeders.
  • Ruby-throated hummingbirds are drawn to nectar flowers and feeders.

Top Texas Backyard Birds

Top Texas Backyard Birds
Northern Cardinals with their bright red plumage are a common sight throughout the state, moving between yards and gardens while whistling their melodious songs. The grey Northern Mockingbird also makes its presence known as it mimics songs and calls of other birds.

Another frequent visitor is the Mourning Dove, identified by its soft, mournful cooing and buffy brown feathers. You’re bound to see these birds and more bringing color, sound, and activity to backyards across Texas.

Their cheerful songs and flashes of color liven up the outdoors and provide a connection to nature right outside your door.

Northern Cardinal

You’ll frequently see the bright red Northern Cardinal at feeders in Texas yards year-round. Adored for its scarlet plumage and rich whistles, it graces treetops and feeders alike. This familiar songbird flashes ruby feathers while perching, singing sweet whistled tunes, and snatching seeds.

Though females sport softer brown hues, the male’s brilliant red inspires bird lovers. Capture cardinal photos using generous seed offerings, patient stillness, and natural nesting areas.

Northern Mockingbird

The feisty Northern Mockingbird, soaring high as an eagle through the mighty Texas sky, proudly wears the crown as the Lone Star State’s official bird. A handsome gray fellow flashing white patches when taking flight, he serenades with a medley mimicking other birds’ songs.

Perched atop fences or trees, he belts out melodies greeting the sunrise, entertaining all day like a master of ceremonies. Mockers thrive in cities and suburbs, belting beautiful tunes as they vigorously defend their turf.

Mourning Dove

With its soft cooing calls, the Mourning Dove is a familiar backyard visitor across Texas. This slender gray-brown dove can be found year-round scouring the ground for seeds and grains. Though shy, watch for territorial disputes marked by aggressive wing-flicking. Enjoy their mournful hoos as they collect twigs and grasses for their flimsy nests.

Regional Bird Differences

Regional Bird Differences
Greetings fellow bird lover! When it comes to backyard birds, Texas has fascinating regional differences. The species visiting yards in Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston contrast with the birds seen around Austin and San Antonio.

Dallas/Fort Worth

In Dallas, you can enjoy the raucous calls of Red-bellied Woodpeckers and crows mingling with the cheerful chirping of Tufted Titmice right outside your window. Perch near a feeder to spot vibrant Northern Cardinals and watch the amusing antics of acrobatic Chickadees.

Houston

Red-bellied woodpeckers, yellow-rumped warblers, and American robins are common sights. Painted buntings may visit feeders filled with millet. Ruby-throated hummingbirds sip nectar from trumpet creeper and Turk’s cap.

Keep an eye out for buff-bellied and black-chinned hummers too. Native plants like yaupon holly attract even more species. If you’re lucky, the haunting calls of a barred owl may float through the trees at dusk.

Austin/San Antonio

Great-tailed Grackles are oftener seen flockin’ ’round bird feeders in Austin than Northern Cardinals or Blue Jays like one might expect, givin’ the city a unique avian flavor.

The area caters to unusual species like Carolina Chickadees, Varied Buntings, White-eyed Vireos, Loggerhead Shrikes, an’ Orchard Orioles.

Folks claim they’re more apt to spot:

  1. The showy Golden-fronted Woodpecker hammerin’ tree trunks.
  2. Rambunctious Green Jays squawkin’ loud calls.
  3. Stunning Painted Buntings visitin’ feeders in spring.
  4. Exotic parrots escaped from captivity, flashin’ tropical colors.
  5. Endangered Black-capped Vireos singin’ in oak scrublands.

Livin’ in Austin provides birders a diverse urban birdin’ experience unlike anywhere else in Texas.

Unique Texas Birds

Unique Texas Birds
Here are two of Texas’ most spectacular birds you’ll be delighted to catch a glimpse of in your own backyard – the brilliantly colored Painted Bunting and the acrobatic Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Watch for these stunning native species as they visit feeders or perch in trees while you enjoy a bit of quintessential Texas birding right at home.

Painted Bunting

You’ve gotta keep an eye out for those colorful Painted Buntings when y’all’re birdwatchin’ in Texas! These little fellows sport the most dazzling rainbow plumage you ever did see. Look for that electric blue head and red-orange underbelly as they flit between feeders.

They prefer thickets and brush near water, so plant native seeds to bring ’em into your yard.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher’s magnificent forked tail sets your heart aflutter when it soars across Texas skies. This boldly patterned aerial acrobat nests on fence posts and utility poles, using its scissor-like tail for balance during flight.

The male’s salmon breeding plumage contrasts sharply with the gray and white female’s. Watch for its aerial courtship as the male dives and zooms, spreading its unique tail. Scissor-tails migrate south by October, returning in March and April. Marvel as this distinctive flyer hunts insects above fields and roads, flashing its unmistakable tail.

Common Texas Woodpeckers

Common Texas Woodpeckers
As a fellow birding enthusiast, you’ll be glad to know Texas has two common woodpeckers found in backyards across the state: the Downy Woodpecker—North America’s smallest woodpecker—and the Red-bellied Woodpecker with its zebra-striped back.

Downy Woodpecker

Have a listen for the familiar pik of the downy woodpecker at your feeder, it’s common across Texas. As an avid birdwatcher, I love seeing these busy woodpeckers visiting my backyard. Offer suet feeders or even small nesting boxes to attract them. Watch for the male’s bold red patch on the back of his head.

Listen for his drumming as he excavates nest holes. Downies bring life to the yard with their constant pecking in search of insects.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

You’d see those red-bellied fellows drumming away on tree trunks in Houston yards. Nine inches of black and white feathers topped with a red-splashed belly. Watch for the zebra stripes down their backs and that whrr-whrr-whrr pounding on trees.

These clowns gobble up insects, berries, and even visit your feeders. The best thing is to offer suet cakes to attract them.

Texas Hummingbirds

Texas Hummingbirds
Watch for the ruby-throated and black-chinned hummingbirds darting around your yard this summer. These tiny dynamos are easily drawn to feeders filled with fresh sugar water, giving you a front-row seat to observe their iridescent plumage and fascinating feeding behaviors up close.

The energetic hummingbirds provide a splash of color and excitement as they buzz around sipping nectar. With some strategic placement of feeders and plantings, you can attract these flying jewels to put on an air show right outside your window.

A bit of patience and you may witness spectacular mating dives and dances. refueling visits happen frequently throughout the day, so have your camera ready to capture a shot of a hummingbird’s rapidly beating wings or delicate perched profile.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

You’ll attract ruby-throated hummingbirds with nectar feeders. Offer fresh sugar water daily in red feeders near flowering plants. Watch for the male’s ruby throat and rapid wingbeats. Hear the buzzing wings and squeaky chatter.

They migrate north in spring and south in fall, following flower abundance. With some remaining along the Gulf Coast year-round, you may spot one darting and hovering at your feeder even in winter. Provide nesting sites up high under eaves. Enjoy these energetic, tiny dynamos in your yard.

Black-chinned Hummingbird

You can see the glossy black chin of a Black-chinned Hummingbird when it visits your nectar feeder. This petite western species is drawn to flowering agaves, ocotillos, and feeders in Texas yards. Observe its straight black bill catching tiny insects. Offer fresh nectar in clean feeders with perches.

Try special urban or elevated styles to welcome these buzzing, iridescent urbanites.

Texas Birds of Prey

Texas Birds of Prey
Hello fellow birdwatcher! You’ll often see turkey vultures and red-tailed hawks soaring overhead in Texas backyards. With their broad wingspans, these birds of prey stand out as they survey the landscape for carrion and small animals.

Turkey Vulture

While scavenging for carrion, that big black buzzard soars high over the Texas hill country. With binoculars, you can watch turkey vultures ride thermals, wings held in a V. Look for the red, unfeathered head as they circle. Though seen as creepy, these unique raptors provide an important service, quickly disposing of roadkill.

Vultures nest in caves, crevices, and hollow trees. Spot adults teaching awkward fledglings to fly. Once threatened by DDT, populations recovered after the pesticide’s ban. Now a common sight across Texas, drifting lazily on six-foot wings.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed hawks, with wingspans averaging four to five feet, frequently soar over Texas backyards hunting for prey. Watch for these magnificent raptors perching on telephone poles or tree branches, their keen eyes searching for a meal.

Listen for their high-pitched kee-eeee-arr cry as they patrol territories. In spring and summer, you may spot one of these common backyard birds gathering sticks for an impressive nest. Whether a fleeting shadow crossing the sky or a notable presence on a backyard perch, red-tailed hawks bring a touch of wildness to urban and rural neighborhoods across Texas.

How to Attract Birds

How to Attract Birds
Entice a colorful array of feathered friends by offering a variety of bird feeders and fresh water sources. Provide black oil sunflower seeds in hopper or tube feeders, suet cakes, and nectar in hummingbird feeders.

Offer Feeders

Northern Cardinals flock to backyard feeders offering black oil sunflower seeds, so place them in your yard for rewarding views. Attract more colorful birds by providing feeders with lightweight mixes. Goldfinches relish nyjer while chickadees nibble black oil seeds.

Small bathing areas also invite native birds seeking refuge. Limit squirrel access with slippery baffles. Planting native flowers and berries nourishes wildlife. Record morning songs as goldfinches warble and cardinals whistle among the blooms.

With thoughtful measures, your backyard becomes a welcoming oasis for feathered friends.

Add a Water Source

You’ll attract more birds when you add a birdbath to your yard! A simple basin filled with water provides birds a place to drink, bathe and cool down. Consider adding a solar-powered fountain for moving water. Misting attachments and drippers entice hesitant birds too.

Platforms and ramps give easy access. Keep water fresh, and clean often to prevent disease. Herbs or flowers around the bath complement any garden. Observe birds up close as they splash and flutter in your oasis.

Birdwatching in Texas

Birdwatching in Texas
Grab your binoculars and field guide, because Texas offers prime birdwatching opportunities across the state, from renowned parks teeming with species diversity to urban oases luring both residents and migrants.

With a smidgen of planning and doggedness, you’re certain to catch sight of a vivid array of species from the ubiquitous Northern Cardinal to scarcer guests like the Green Kingfisher.

State Parks

Big Bend’s Chisos Mountains host Colima Warblers and other low desert species. Bastrop and Buescher State Parks lie along sparrow migration routes. Possum Kingdom’s cliffs provide nesting sites for Peregrine Falcons and other raptors.

Caddo Lake’s wetlands attract herons, egrets, and other valley wetland birds. Mustang Island’s coastal marshes harbor migrating shorebirds and wading birds.

Urban Hotspots

Even in bustling urban hotspots, sharp-eyed birders can spot colorful migrants amid concrete jungles if they pause and peer between skyscrapers. While city-dwelling birds like House Sparrows and European Starlings thrive, native species visit gardens and parks during migration.

Innovative birders entice orioles, finches, and warblers by offering specialized feeders filled with grape jelly, nyger seed, and orange halves. Simple actions like providing nest boxes, controlling insects, and planting native trees support urban biodiversity while deepening human connections to the natural world.

Seasonal Bird Changes

Seasonal Bird Changes
Texas backyards host a changing cast of feathered friends through the seasons. Spring heralds the arrival of bright neotropical migrants like indigo buntings and painted buntings, while in winter we may find unexpected visitors from farther north like the ruby-crowned kinglet and yellow-rumped warbler.

Summer Migrants

Scoping out the darting barn swallows snatching insects above the backyard during the bright summer days is a fun seasonal sight. These aerial acrobats arrive from South America in March and April to breed across the U.

S. Watch for their deeply forked tails and swooping flight as they hawk for flies. Their mud nests cling under eaves and bridges. Enjoy these social, chattering swallows all summer before they gather in flocks and return south in September and October.

Winter Visitors

Some northbound migrants like Ruby-crowned Kinglets stay all winter in Texas, making up over a quarter of feeding flocks.

  1. Offer suet for insect-eating birds like kinglets, chickadees, and nuthatches.
  2. Use tube feeders with small ports for smaller winter birds.
  3. Add heated bird baths and fresh water offerings for winter drinking and bathing.
  4. Plant native berry bushes and seed plants that provide winter food sources.

Treasure those tiny winter jewels, the Ruby-crowns and other migrants gracing your yard. Their electric energy and cheer will get you through until migration season comes around again.

Birds to Avoid

Birds to Avoid
Look for the iridescent Great-tailed Grackle and the brown-headed Cowbird, as these year-round residents may become more frequent visitors to feeders and bird baths in your yard. Avoid feeding them, as they can be aggressive bullies that scare away smaller songbirds.

Great-tailed Grackle

You’ll spot those noisy Great-tailed Grackles squawking around in Austin more than other parts of Texas. Though often considered a nuisance, these intelligent birds fascinate with their complex flocking behavior.

Conserving wetlands helps provide habitat, but limiting food access curbs overpopulation. Their social dynamics offer insight, if we quiet our judgments. Our shared world thrives through understanding.

Brown-headed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

I have not seen many Brown-headed Cowbirds in my yard, but you would surely notice their nest-parasitizing ways if they showed up. Expert brood parasites, cowbirds slyly lay eggs in other birds’ nests, duping hosts into raising cowbird chicks.

Though concerning, their cunning breeding strategy helps sustain the species. As human changes degrade habitat, cowbird populations have declined. While their nest-parasitizing may seem unfair, they uniquely illustrate nature’s infinite creativity.

We must thoughtfully protect the remaining grasslands these resourceful birds depend on.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What kind of bird feeders work best to attract specific birds?

Opt for feeders with smaller perches and openings to attract little birds like chickadees. Mix seeds and offer suet for the widest variety of feathered friends eager to visit your backyard oasis.

Where can I find resources for identifying bird songs and calls in Texas?

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Merlin app is an invaluable tool for novice birders exploring this rewarding hobby. Its bird identification feature can help identify common Texas backyard birds by their distinct songs and calls, with hundreds of species recorded.

I recommend checking out this app’s song ID capability to aid in learning the unique vocalizations of birds found around the Lone Star State. This well-designed resource from ornithology experts makes it easier to identify species just by hearing their calls.

What plants and flowers will attract more hummingbirds to my yard?

Though larger yards appeal more, even small spaces suffice to entice hummingbirds. Strategically plant nectar-rich blooms they crave—trumpet vines, coral honeysuckle, firecracker salvias—and you’ll soon delight in their buzzing, darting splendor.

Are there any tips for deterring aggressive birds like grackles from feeders?

Use tube feeders with weight-activated perches – grackles’ heavier weight won’t trigger the perch. Install feeders with small perch diameters that don’t accommodate their feet. Limit ground feeding opportunities by using catch trays under feeders and cleaning up spillage.

Consider using safflower seed, which grackles dislike. Space feeders widely so grackles can’t dominate.

When is the best time of day and year to see the most bird activity?

Early morning is the best time to see peak bird activity as they start their day foraging. During spring and fall migration, expect high energy at dawn when birds refuel after traveling all night. In summer, activity increases again mid-afternoon when parents work hard feeding demanding young.

Conclusion

Grab your binoculars and discover the magnificent backyard birds of Texas! From iconic species like the Northern Cardinal to seasonal migrants and coastal specialties, exploring the diverse avifauna of the Lone Star State offers endless rewards for any birder.

Provide food, water, and shelter – then let the birding adventures begin right in your backyard oasis! With so many birds to spot, you’ll enjoy a lifetime of new discoveries in this birdwatcher’s paradise.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and agriculture expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of people make their yards lush and thick.