Birding Seasons and Specialties

A large bird sits on a tree branch, clutching a glow worm in its foot.
Common Black-hawk holding a glow worm


Timing is very important for seeing specific birds or a diversity of species. Of the four seasons, spring is the most popular period for birding, with numerous rare migrants being reported. Some of the birds seen during spring migration may only stop in the park for a few hours or a few days before continuing their journey north. While surprises are few in summer, many southwestern U.S. birds, and some tropical species can be seen with ease. Although fall migration is less spectacular than spring, it lasts much longer, from August through early December. Winter is generally mild and species are quite predictable. For a comprehensive list of Big Bend's birds, as well as what time of year to find them, please reference the Bird Checklist produced by Big Bend Natural History Association.

Winter Birds

December - late February: About 100 species of birds, including visitors and residents, spend the winter in Big Bend. The diversity of ducks, shorebirds, and sparrows is greatest at this time of year.
8 small photos of a Lincoln Sparrow, Blue-winged Teal, Long-eared Owl, Cinnamon Teal, Pied-bill Grebe, Field Sparrow, Red-naped Sapsucker, and a Song Sparrow
Winter birds of Big Bend



Spring Arrivals

Late February - early May: This is the most popular time of year for birding, with peak migration happening the last two weeks of April and the first week of May. Some of the birds, including those pictured below, arrive in the spring and stay through the summer. They nest and raise their young in the park before heading south to Latin America for the winter.
8 small photos of Painted Bunting, Scott's Oriole, Painted Redstart, Varied Bunting, Hepatic Tanager, Colima Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Common Black-hawk
Spring and summer birds of Big Bend

NPS/CA Hoyt, R. Negele, and L. Benavidez


Residents and Southwestern Specialties

A number of birds that are year-round residents of Big Bend are also labeled as Southwestern United States species. This designation of Southwestern species includes birds that are limited to southern California, Arizona, New Mexico and western Texas. The southern parts of the aforementioned states are the northernmost ranges of birds that are commonly found in Latin America.
8 small photos of Scaled Quail, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Mexican Jay, Inca Dove, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Black-throated Sparrow, and a Verdin
8 small photos of a Greater Roadrunner, Curve-billed Thrasher, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Canyon Towhee, Vermillion Flycatcher, Cactus Wren, Crissal Thrasher, and a Pyrrhuloxia.
Resident and Southwestern specialty birds of Big Bend

NPS/CA Hoyt and R. Negele


Bird Information

Last updated: May 31, 2020

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PO Box 129
Big Bend National Park, TX 79834-0129



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