Endangered golden-cheeked warblers nest only in the mixed Ashe juniper and oak woodlands of Central Texas. They nest from March to July, and spend winter in Mexico and Central America. Warblers eat insects and spiders from oaks, and use long strips of cedar bark and spiderwebs to build nests, where they lay three to four eggs. Loss of nesting habitat has reduced golden cheeked warbler populations
Black-capped vireos also nest in Texas in the spring (April to July) and spend winter on the west coast of Mexico. These tiny birds nest in low-growing shrubs and return each year to the same nesting area. Males sing to attract mates and to defend two- to four-acre territories. The loss of low-growing shrub habitat (due to grazing, clearing and fire suppression) has led to this bird’s scarcity. It was removed from the endangered species list in 2018.
Field Sparrows can be found yearly in Texas. Breeding for Field Sparrows in Texas occurs from late March to late July. Their preferred habitats include areas with low perches, such as abandoned agricultural fields and pastures, fence rows, road and forest edges, as well as openings in wooded areas. Within the last few decades the population of Field Sparrows had been declining, but with the increase in forest clearing occurring in North America, the population for Field Sparrows are expected to increase.
Blue-gray Gnatcatchers arrive in Texas from February 28 to May with most being present from mid-March to mid-April. Breeding occurs from late March to late July.
This cute little year-round resident can often be seen in the leaf litter or in brush piles looking for insects. At other times, he will sit high atop a tree and belt out his song. Many people say his song sounds like “Germany, Germany, Germany” or “Tea Kettle, Tea Kettle, Tea Kettle.”
Most Black- Chinned Hummingbirds arrive in Texas between mid-March and early May to breed from late March to mid-August. These Hummingbirds breed in Texas from 120 to 2650 m (400-8750 ft) in habitats ranging from agave-cactus desert to semi-humid juniper-live oak.
The ubiquitous cardinal is a year-round resident. The male’s bright red color and boisterous song make it a perennial favorite among visitors.
A close cousin of the Carolina Wren, this fellow has a gray belly and he is a little smaller. Despite his small size and effective camouflage, he has a BIG song. According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology the song is described as “Typically, these begin with two or more high, quick introductory notes, drop into a lower, burry phrase, and end on a high trill. Variations can include additional warbles and buzzy notes. Songs last about 2 seconds.”
If you’ve ever wondered why we don’t cut down old, dead trees in the park, the Red-bellied Woodpecker is one of the reasons. The Red-bellied Woodpecker likes to nest in cavities found in trees. Although it is called Red-bellied, the most striking feature of both the male and female is the red head. This is also where the differences between the sexes is found. The red head extends all the way to the beak on the male while the red on the female’s head stops above the eye.
As the name implies, this is a Summer resident, although it shows up in the Spring as well. One of only two common red bird’s in the park, the Tanager can be distinguished from the Cardinal by its beak. The Tanager also lacks the black facial markings and the crest atop its head. The Tanager has a longer beak than a Cardinal. The females and juveniles are yellow to yellow-green. As the male juveniles age, they will begin to develop red.
This visitor favorite is a sure sign that Spring has arrived. The Scissor Tailed Fly-catcher is found throughout the park and is most commonly seen in the large tree next to the park store. They are easy to spot even from a distance because of their long two-part tails. They are often seen in pairs.
Another favorite, and possibly the most often asked about bird in the park, is the Painted Bunting. This colorful bird is a Summer resident. The male, which is the colorful one, often sits high atop trees and sings his little heart out. I like to call this bird a Texas Parrot because of his bright colors.