Birding at Big Bend Ranch State Park

Birding at Big Bend Ranch State Park
Big Bend Ranch State Park in Presidio, Texas, is the largest state park in Texas and spans more than 300,000 acres of the Chihuahuan Desert. Its many types of terrain and isolation make Big Bend Ranch State Park ideal for birdwatching. Because water flows in its springs, creeks and the Rio Grande, plants and animals flourish. In its virtually unimproved 300,000 acres are riparian, grassland, high desert, canyon and desert scrub areas, each hosting regular and visiting birds. More than 300 species are sighted. Whether you come in spring, fall, winter or summer, you will spot outstanding birds, including roadrunners, hummingbirds, hawks and wrens. The park provides a checklist on which to record your own sightings.

Year-Round Residents

Cactus, rock, canyon and Bewick's wrens live permanently in Big Bend Ranch State Park. So do greater roadrunners, several varieties of woodpecker, thrasher, sparrow and gnatcatchers. Phaenopepla and pyrrhuloxia flash their crests year-round, too. Zone-tailed is one of several varieties of hawk you may see, and other birds of prey include peregrine falcons, nighthawks and elf owl. Goldfinches and hummingbirds flaunt their colors. Scaled quail, rare elsewhere, are common here. Mallard ducks, verdin, flycatcher and towhee are at home year-round.


Migration Time

From late March through the middle of May, birds head north to their summer habitats. From late August through the middle of October, many of the same species migrate south through this park. Visitors include flycatchers, warblers, tanagers and vagrants, or birds that have deviated from their usual flyways, ending up where they are not expected.

Summer Dwellers

The nocturnal poorwill, kingbirds, ravens, vireos, warblers, phoebes and cowbirds spend the summer. So do the colorful summer tanager, varied bunting, vermilion flycatcher, oriole and blue grosbeak.

Winter Visitors

Golden eagles winter at Big Bend Ranch State Park, along with Anna's hummingbirds and prairie falcons. The chestnut-collared longspur and several species of flycatcher, bluebird and warbler are seen only in winter.


Article Written By Lani Johnson

Lani Johnson is a hiking, writing musician. Recent published work includes journalism, poetry and research. See her online writing at or at

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