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Texas Birdwatching during Spring Migration

Generally speaking, except for the random few days from mid-February through early April, Texas has mild winters. Because of this the state offers a variety of natural landscapes and opportunities for nature photography in February, but a big draw for people to travel from across the country and world to the Lone Star State during this time is for the "birding".

February and the beginning of March really marks the start of the spring migration. You can expect to see a multitude of bird species as they make their way northward after spending the winter in warmer regions. Texas is a critical stopover for many migratory birds. Here's a quick list of some of the birds you might see as they head north:

  • Warblers: Various warbler species like Yellow-rumped Warblers, Palm Warblers, and Orange-crowned Warblers often migrate through Texas during February. Look for them in wooded areas, forests, and along water sources.

  • Sparrows: White-crowned Sparrows, Lincoln's Sparrows, and other sparrow species are common migrants in Texas during this time. They can be found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, shrubs, and gardens.

  • Shorebirds: Some shorebirds like American Avocets, Wilson's Snipes, and Dunlins can be seen in wetlands, marshes, and along coastlines.

  • Swallows: Tree Swallows and Northern Rough-winged Swallows might be seen in open areas near water bodies.

Tree Swallow
Tree Swallow
  • Hawks and Raptors: Various hawk species, including Red-tailed Hawks, Cooper's Hawks, and Sharp-shinned Hawks, migrate through Texas in February. They can often be spotted soaring in the skies.

Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
  • Flycatchers: Eastern Phoebes and other flycatcher species can be seen perched in open areas, catching insects.

  • Thrushes: Hermit Thrushes and other thrush species might be found in wooded areas and shrubs.

  • Waterfowl: While many waterfowl species start their migration earlier, you might still see some Snow Geese before they head north to Canada and ducks like Northern Pintails, Ring-necked, the Northern Shoveler and Gadwalls in wetlands and ponds.

Female Ring-necked Duck
Female Ring-necked Duck
Male Northern Shoveler
Male Northern Shoveler
Snow Geese
Snow Geese
  • Vireos: White-eyed Vireos and other vireo species might be seen in shrubby habitats and woodlands.

  • Hummingbirds: Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the most common hummingbird species that migrate through Texas. They can be attracted to flowering plants and feeders.

  • Buntings and Grosbeaks: Indigo Buntings and Blue Grosbeaks might start appearing in more southern parts of Texas.

For the best bird-watching experience during spring migration, consider visiting various habitats such as forests, grasslands, wetlands, coastal areas, and even urban parks. Birding hotspots in Texas where you might have a good chance of spotting migrating birds include:

  1. High Island: A famous birding destination along the Texas Gulf Coast known for its abundance of migrating songbirds.

  2. Big Bend National Park: Offers diverse habitats attracting various bird species.

  3. Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge: Offers prime birding along the Gulf Coast, especially for waterfowl and shorebirds.

  4. Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge: A great place to spot grassland and prairie species.

  5. Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge: Further north from the coastal refuges the Hagerman provides a large habitat for migratory birds, wildlife and plants native to North Texas.

Keep in mind that bird migration can be influenced by weather conditions and other factors so it's a good idea to check with local birding groups or resources closer to the time of your visit for the most up-to-date information on bird sightings and that season's migration patterns.

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