Texas Birds: 21 Colorful Species To Spot (In Your Backyard)

Eastern Bluebird on a tree

Last Updated: April 30, 2022

When you think of Texas, the first things that come to mind are barbecue, chili, and rodeos.

But…

What you may not know is the vast number of birds in the Lone Star state - over 650 species have already been recorded in Texas! Of course, it's nearly impossible to discuss all of them at once, so we only included 21 species for you to identify.

Whether you're visiting state parks or simply chilling in your backyard, you wouldn't want to miss out on these Texas birds!

The 21 Species Of Texas Birds That Are Excellent For Bird Watching

1. American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

American Crow in summer

The American Crow is a large, all-black bird familiar to most people. If you watch horror movies, crows tend to appear as a sign of a bad omen.

Apart from their ominous appearance, crows are also one of the smartest birds in Texas. 

They can even be taught to perform "stunts" for the camera, so they are often depicted in horror movies.

American Crows are present in Texas statewide, although not as common in Edwards Plateau, Trans-Pecos, and south Texas in general.

The best season to spot this bird is during winter, when countless crows gather in large communal roosts.

If you want to attract Crows to your backyard, you can scatter peanuts - whether in the shell or not. However, some may consider them pests because they may rummage through your trash.


2. American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)

Male American Goldfinch on a plantFemale American Goldfinch

Left: Male

Right: Female

Most of the year, both genders of the American Goldfinch share the same plumage - a soft yellow body and shoulder bar, white rump, and black wings and tail with flashy white streaks. The male also has a black cap while the female does not.

However, once spring arrives, the male molts from a soft yellow to a bright yellow body for breeding. It's the only species of its family to molt twice per year - one in spring and one in fall.

Even though this bird is only present in Texas during the winter, it is commonly found and easily recognizable during this time. Its preferred habitats are overgrown areas, such as weedy grasslands and thickets.

Additionally, you may attract American Goldfinches by planting thistle or milkweed in your backyard or placing a feeder containing seeds.

However, they tend to keep a distance from humans and larger birds, so it's unlikely to get close without having them fly away.


3. American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

Zoom in of American Robin

With its black head, gray back, and rust-red breast, the American Robin is a familiar thrush species in North America.

This robin is abundant and widespread due to its adaptability in many habitats - forests, tundra, agricultural fields, towns, backyards, and more. In Texas, you can see more American Robins during winter, especially in the southern parts of the state.

They are also pretty comfortable around humans, making them one of the most common backyard birds in Texas.

Despite this, American Robins rarely use feeders because their diet mainly consists of invertebrates. You're more likely to see one in your backyard eating earthworms from the ground.


4. Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

Barn Swallow standing over wood

From above, the Barn Swallow is a mixture of blue and black on the head, back, and wings, while its forehead and chin are orange.

On the other hand, its belly is light orange, and its underwings are white. Its tail is also deeply forked, meaning that the outer ends of the tail are longer than the middle.

Out of all the swallow species, this one is the most abundant and widespread worldwide.

In Texas, you may find it around agricultural areas and suburbs, as well as areas near water such as ponds and marshes.

You may attract Barn Swallows to your home by setting up a nest box or feeder containing eggshells. It is believed that they consume eggshells to help with digestion.


5. Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

A blue Jay looking up a tree

The Blue Jay is one of the native North American birds, specifically in the eastern parts of the continent.

It's widely recognized for its primarily blue body, back, wings, and tail with some black and white highlights. It also has an upright crest and a white belly.

Blue Jays can be found statewide and year-round in Texas but are scarce in places such as Trans-Pecos and the state's southern regions.

They usually reside in forests to forage acorns, but they're also present in suburbs, farmlands, and groves. You are less likely to find them in cities.

However, you can also attract them with acorns, a suet feeder, or a birdbath. You would know when Blue Jays visit you because they form noisy and aggressive groups.

Blue Jays even imitate the sound of Texas hawks to scare other birds - quite a smart move to keep the feeders all to yourself!

6. Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis)

black and white chickadee

The Carolina Chickadee is a small bird with light gray upperparts, while its underparts are a mix of light gray and brown shades.

It's recognized primarily from its head, consisting of a black cap, a black bib, and white cheeks.

This chickadee occurs more often in central and east Texas. In contrast, it's rare-absent in Trans-Pecos, where it's replaced by the Mountain Chickadee instead.

The best places to find Carolina Chickadees are in various forests or places near water bodies, including parks and suburban areas.

They will visit feeders containing seeds and grains, but they particularly favor suet feeders. You may also attract a breeding pair by putting up a nest box or tube.


7. Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)

Carolina Wren on a tree

The Carolina Wren has a brown body overall - dark brown upperparts and light brown underparts. There are also white details, particularly its white throat, eyebrows, and rump.

This wren is common and abundant in the southeastern USA, mainly found statewide in Texas. Its preferred habitat is anywhere with enough dense vegetation, such as shrubs, thickets, vines, and bushes.

Even though Carolina Wrens don't hesitate to approach neighborhoods, they mostly eat insect species, so the chances of visiting feeders are low.

Instead, the best way to attract them is to plant the vegetation we mentioned. These vegetation types allow insects to gather, letting Carolina Wrens forage around the area.


8. Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)

Downy Woodpecker perched on a tree

Male and female Downy Woodpeckers mostly have identical colors. They both have white backs and underparts, while their faces are white with black stripes.

On the other hand, their tails and napes are black, while the wings are black with white spots. The only difference is that the male has a red crown, while the female doesn't.

The Downy Woodpecker is one of the most common birds in Texas and can be found throughout the year. You can usually find it in deciduous forests, parks, and even gardens.

This woodpecker is also easily attracted to various feeders, especially with suet. Downy Woodpeckers are more likely to visit your backyard during winter due to food scarcity.

Additionally, suppose you spot this bird in the wild, in that case, you may also find chickadees and nuthatches as they tend to flock together.

9. Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)

Male Eastern Bluebird on a tree branchEastern Bluebird on a tree

Left: Male

Right: Female

As you may have guessed, the Eastern Bluebird is a thrush with bright blue upperparts, except for the wings which have black tips. Meanwhile, its throat and breast are rust-brown, and its belly is white.

The female shares the same plumage but is less saturated, wherein the blue transitions into a gray shade.

In Texas, its abundance is common-uncommon statewide. However, it's less likely to occur in west Texas as it's replaced by Western and Mountain Bluebirds.

You can look for Eastern Bluebirds in open areas, such as woodlands, meadows, fields, and parks.

You can also attract them to your backyard with a nest box or feeder, as long as you provide food that they actually eat - mealworms are often the way to go!


10. Green Jay (Cyanocorax luxuosus)

two Green Jays on a feeder

Also known as the "Rio Grande Jay," the Green Jay is another one of the most colorful birds of Texas.

Its head, nape, and cheek are blue, while its throat is black. The rest of its body is green, with the upperparts being a dark green, the underparts being light green, and the long tail being blue-green.

Its population is almost exclusively found in southern Texas, particularly the Rio Grande Valley, hence the nickname.

It is an uncommon but year-round resident of the region. Still, it may wander to central Texas during winter.

Green Jays are typically found in open woodlands and tall, dense thickets dominated by mesquite.


11. House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)

House FinchHouse Finch on a feeder

Left: Male

Right: Female

One of the famous backyard birds in Texas is the House Finch. The male has a red head, breast, and rump, while the rest of its body is brown-streaked.

Meanwhile, the female has no red colors but brown-streaked all over instead.

This species used to be native to the western USA but has been introduced to the east. It's now abundant throughout the entire USA all year!

House Finches are immensely curious and social, typically found in noisy groups. They are also bold and visit human settlements often, so you're likely to see them visit your backyard.

Speaking of backyards, you can attract more of these Texas finches with a feeder containing nyjer or black oil sunflower seeds.


12. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

House Sparrow on a bird bathHouse Sparrow on a fence

Left: Male

Right: Female

Like the previous bird, the House Sparrow is abundant and widespread throughout the USA.

The male species has brown upperparts and light gray underparts, while its wings and tail are a dark brown with black and white accents. It also has a prominent black throat and gray crown.

Meanwhile, the female lacks the black colors, and the brown is less saturated, wherein gray is the dominant color.

House Sparrows are incredibly common and can be found in all forms of human settlements - cities, towns, suburbs, you name it.

Because of their adaptability to human life, they will readily visit most feeders that contain seeds and grains. Sometimes, they may stick around your backyard even if you don't have food prepared.

However, House Sparrows are an invasive species that compete with many birds native to Texas for nesting - and most of the time, they win.


13. Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

Mourning Dove walking on the ground

The Mourning Dove is a bird with a small head, long tail, and plump body. Its color is primarily tan and gray, with some black spots on the wings and black edges on the tail.

This species is the most common dove in Texas, present all year but particularly prevalent during summer.

It typically prefers open fields with many shrubs and trees. Still, it can be found in urban settings where it perches on telephone wires.

Mourning Doves are common visitors to backyard feeders containing seeds, especially millet. However, they are most comfortable feeding on the ground, so it's best to have a ground feeder or throw the food on the floor instead.


14. Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

two Northern Cardinal facing each other

Left: Female

Right: Male

Without a doubt, one of the most popular birds in Texas is the Northern Cardinal.

The male is easily recognized due to its flashy red plumage, prominent crest, and black mask and throat.

Even though the female isn't as colorful, it's still familiar to many due to the crest and some of the remaining red colors on the wings and tail.

Northern Cardinals become even flashier during the winter because their red plumage really pops in the winter environment!

What makes this one so famous is its abundance as one of the most popular red birds in Texas statewide and how it frequently visits bird feeders. Just prepare its favorite foods, such as sunflower seeds, and you're good to go.


15. Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)

Northern Mockingbird in the forest

The Northern Mockingbird is a medium-sized bird that has gray upperparts. Its wings and long tail are a combination of black, gray, and white streaks visible in flight.

Meanwhile, its underparts are a paler gray than the upperparts. It also has a faint black streak across its eyes, only visible up close.

Apart from being the only mockingbird species found in North America, this bird is also recognized as the state bird of Texas.

Northern Mockingbirds are common and abundant statewide, typically found alone or in pairs at any open ground with shrubby vegetation - this includes parks, farmlands, and even your own backyard!

You can easily attract this bird with a feeder containing suet or chopped fruits. You may also try planting fruit trees or bushes, such as hawthorns and blackberries.


16. Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris)

Painted Bunting in wildernessfemale Painted Bunting on red feeder

Left: Male

Right: Female

The Painted Bunting is one of the easiest birds of Texas to recognize due to its bright colors - it really lives up to its name.

For the male, its head is bright blue, and the wings are a combination of lime, dark green, and dark red. Meanwhile, its underparts and rump are bright red.

For the female, its entire body is different shades of green.

This visually striking bird only spends the summer in Texas for breeding, typically in low vegetation, such as hedgerows, briar patches, and swamp thickets.

If you want to attract Painted Buntings, you may add the vegetation mentioned above to your yard or use a bird feeder containing seeds.

17. Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)

Pine Siskin on a branchPine Siskin in a dewy forest

Left: Male

Right: Female

The Pine Siskin is a North American finch with a brown-streaked color pattern. What makes it recognizable among the birds of Texas are the yellow streaks on its wings and tail.

Although the female shares the same patterns, it only has one yellow streak on its wings.

Pine Siskins are opportunistic, migratory birds, so their distribution varies yearly. Most of them arrive in late September and depart by late April in Texas.

Although they are common and abundant, these finches only occur in the northern two-thirds of Texas.

They usually reside in coniferous and deciduous forests but can also be spotted in parks, alder thickets, and pastures.


18. Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus)

Flying male Rufous HummingbirdRufous Hummingbird on a branch

Left: Male

Right: Female

As the name suggests, the Rufous Hummingbird has a primarily rufous-brown color. The only other colors present in its plumage are the white breast, green shoulders, and the black tips on its tail.

Meanwhile, the female's body is less rufous, wherein white and green are more prominent.

This Texas hummingbird is one of the most migratory birds in Texas, having the longest migration route out of all North American hummingbirds.

With this, Rufous Hummingbirds only visit the state during the winter and are only present in some parts of south Texas. They are typically found in forests, high-mountain meadows and brushlands, and coasts.

You may also attract them with a hummingbird feeder. However, they are one of the most aggressive Texas backyard birds - they will relentlessly attack other hummingbirds and drive them away from your backyard.


19. Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra)

Male Summer Tanager eating food from a feederSummer Tanager on a branch

Left: Male

Right: Female

The Summer Tanager, also known as the "bee bird," is one of the flashiest Texas songbirds, with the male appearing in all-red. Meanwhile, the female is entirely yellow or orange.

Even though they are easily recognized, Summer Tanagers are only present in central and east Texas and only appear during summer as common-uncommon migrants.

Their preferred habitat is usually in oak and hickory woodlands, although they're also found in orchards and parks.

Although their diet mainly consists of bees (hence the nickname), you may attract them to your home with fruit trees and berry bushes.


20. Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus obscurus)

red Vermilion Flycatcher Vermilion Flycatcher

Left: Male

Right: Female

The Vermilion Flycatcher is quite a looker with its color scheme - the male has a black back, wings, tail, and a black line across its eyes. At the same time, its head and underparts are scarlet-red.

For the female bird, the red color is only on its belly. The breast and neck are white with brown stripes, while the rest of its body is dark brown.

It ranges from common-uncommon in Texas. However, it's scarce in places such as Pineywoods and Edward's Plateau during December.

This flycatcher's usual habitats are in brushy or wooded areas near water, such as the riverside forest areas of the Lone Star state.

Vermilion Flycatchers are unlikely to visit feeders as their diet is primarily insects. Still, you may try your luck with chopped-up berries.

Watch this amazing video of a Vermilion Flycatcher:


21. White Winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica)

White Winged Dove on a tree branch

The body of a White Winged Dove is brown-gray overall, while its wings are dark gray with some broad white streaks, hence the name. It also has a short brown tail with white edges.

This dove appears in Texas all year, although they tend to concentrate in north Texas during the summer. Its preferred habitats include suburbs, agricultural areas, and open country or desert with shrubs.

White Winged Doves love eating grains and seeds, so you can easily attract them to your feeder. Sometimes, they will even start eating from your fruit shrubs!

They're also quite fond of birdbaths, so that's another way of keeping these doves around.


Frequently Asked Questions

Where do birds get their color?

We described each bird's colors throughout the article because it's one of their most defining characteristics. Well, where do they get colors anyway?

Pigments and the structure of feathers determine a bird's colors.

Some pigments, such as melanin, occur naturally in birds, which explains why most birds are brown/black.

However, other pigments come from the food that they eat. For example, flamingos wouldn't be pink if it weren't for the algae and shrimp in their diet.

On the other hand, the construction of a bird's feather also affects color because of how it interacts with light at a molecular level.

A good example of this is the Blue Jay. If you destroy the structure of its feathers (such as through crushing), they will lose the blue color!

What are the best birding spots in Texas?

There are many birding spots throughout Texas (Texas is huge!), so here are a few spots based on various points of the state:

  • North Texas: Lewisville Lake Park
  • East Texas: Caddo Lake State Park
  • South Texas: Bentsen State Park
  • West Texas: Chisos Mountains
  • Central Texas: Roy Guerrero Park

What local agencies can I contact if I have a concern with Texas wild birds?

Two of the agencies you can contact about TX birds are the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the Texas Ornithological Society (TOS).

These agencies aim to promote the discovery and knowledge of birds, conserve local bird species, and cooperate with experts such as ornithologists and biologists.

Additionally, TPWD provides permits for activities that may affect the diversity of birds, such as hunting and falconry.

Final Remarks

This article shows many beautiful Texas birds for you to see - most of which are common and abundant even in neighborhoods.

Of course, this is just a fraction of all the birds you can see in the state. We didn't even get around to mentioning any of the most common owls in Texas.

With the vast area of Texas, some birds are only found in a specific place at a specific time, so birding in the state is always an adventure!

Whether you're traveling between state parks or putting up feeders and nest boxes in your backyard, we hope for a wonderful birding experience ahead of you.

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