Bird Watching in the Chisos Mountains

Acorn Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker

NPS Photo/Matthew Yarbrough


The piñon-oak-juniper woodland in the higher elevations of the Chisos Mountains and their foothills attract many species of birds that would not otherwise be in Big Bend National Park. Around the campground, visitor center, trailhead, and lodge look for Mexican jays, bushtits, and during breeding season, Scott's orioles or hepatic tanagers.

In the higher elevations of the Chisos, look for band tailed pigeons, acorn woodpeckers, Hutton's, plumbeous, blue-headed and Cassin's vireos, and tufted titmouse. Rock, canyon, and Bewick's wrens, Townsend's warbler, western, summer, and hepatic tanagers are also often sighted along Chisos trails. In late summer, when mountain sage blooms, watch for hummingbirds feeding on its brilliant red blossoms. Lucifer, broad-tailed, broad-billed, rufous, calliope, beryline, blue-throated, magnificent, and ruby-throated hummingbirds have all been seen here at different times of the year. Zone-tailed hawks nest near the pass at Toll Mountain, and peregrine falcons sightings have been reported from the South Rim. In the moist woodlands of Boot canyon, look for the Colima warbler, Big Bend's specialty bird.

In the higher elevations also look for painted redstarts, cordilleran flycatchers, or white-breasted nuthatches, which are usually common. On a few occasions sightings of rare birds, such as the red face warbler or white-eared hummingbird, have been reported from Boot Canyon as well. After dark look and listen, for flammulated, western, and eastern screech owls and Whip-poor-wills.

Last updated: November 9, 2013

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