Top 31 COMMON BIRDS In Texas (ID Guide With Photos)
Did you recently come across a familiar bird in Texas, and want to know what species it was?
Bird identification in Texas is not as easy as it might seem, since there are many bird species in the lone star state that look similar.
To help you identify the bird you saw, we’ll cover the most common birds of Texas in this article, and where to find them.
What are the most common birds found in Texas?
The 31 most common birds found in Texas are:
- Northern Cardinal
- American Robin
- Northern Mockingbird
- House Sparrow
- American Goldfinch
- Mourning Dove
- Blue Jay
- American Crow
- House Finch
- European Starling
- Red-winged Blackbird
- Common Grackle
- Red-bellied Woodpecker
- Downy Woodpecker
- Hairy Woodpecker
- Carolina Wren
- Ruby-throated Hummingbird
- House Wren
- Yellow-rumped Warbler
- Eastern Phoebe
- Painted Bunting
- Palm Warbler
- Gray Catbird
- Tufted Titmouse
- Great Crested Flycatcher
- Tree Swallow
- Yellow-throated Warbler
- Carolina Chickadee
- Eastern Bluebird
- Bullock’s Oriole
- White-winged Dove
While many of these Texas birds are year-round residents, some are migratory birds that only occur in the lone star state during the summer.
Now let’s dive into the details, and take a closer look at each of these common species in order to get the full scoop:
Scientific name: Cardinalis cardinalis
As the state bird of no less than seven US states, the Northern Cardinal is perhaps the most well known red bird in Texas.
Male Northern Cardinals have a bright crimson red coloration on their head, chest, and belly, and slightly darker red on their back and wing feathers.
In addition, the face has a black mask extending from the bright red bill to the throat.
Female Northern Cardinals are not quite as colorful as males, and have a more buff-brown body color with some reddish tinges, although they also have a bright red bill.
The Northern Cardinal is a common backyard bird in Texas, and can be seen year round in backyards, small forests, and parks.
During the winter months it doesn’t defend its territory, and sometimes gathers in flocks of up to 25 individuals that feed together. The Northern Cardinal is a regular visitor at bird feeders.
Scientific name: Turdus migratorius
The American Robin is actually a thrush, but got its name from early settlers in North America who noticed its resemblance with the European Robin.
The orange chest of the American robin makes it easy to identify this type of bird. It mostly forages for food on the ground with the help of its powerful legs and stout yellow beak.
In the fall and winter, it feeds on fruit and searches for snails and worms amid the fallen leaves. It frequently congregates in big roosts in the non-breeding season.
The American Robin is a superb singer, with a song that is melodious and flowing, similar to many other thrushes.
They construct their bulky nests out of twigs at a very variable height, from the ground all the way up to the canopy of the trees.
In a typical year, American robins will have between two and three broods.
While the original habitat of American Robins was woodlands, they have adjusted superbly to the expansion of human settlements, and are now found in suburban areas as common breeding birds.
This thrush is a partial migratory bird, with its northernmost populations in Canada and the northern USA being entirely migratory.
In Texas, the American Robin is found all year round, and likes to form flocks that roost together during the winter.
Scientific name: Mimus polyglottos
The Northern Mockingbird is the state bird of Texas, and its melodious whistling song can be heard in many parts of the state.
Its overall appearance is dark gray, although its black wings have white stripes (which are especially conspicuous in flight, flashing like bright signals).
It is a common backyard bird in Texas, with both sexes resembling each other. In addition to the black wings, the tail is also black, and has white margins.
It has a dark eyestripe that contrasts with the yellow eye, while the underparts are buff white. Juvenile birds look similar to adults, but are covered with spots and streaks.
The Northern Mockingbird is a common songbird, and a year-round resident in Texas. It is also a summer visitor in the northernmost states as well as Canada.
This bird is the only mockingbird species found in North America, and often sing actively at night. It prefers wooded areas as well as urban habitats with sufficient tree growth, such as parks and golf courses.
Scientific name: Passer domesticus
The House Sparrow is a familiar urban songbird in Texas.
Adult males have upperparts that are primarily chestnut brown with dark streaks. The wings are chestnut brown with a white wingbar.
A great characteristic to identify males is by their gray crown and rump. Females are more drab, and are mostly buff gray with dark streaks on their back.
The House Sparrow is not a native bird of the lone state, but was introduced by European settlers.
However it has successfully colonized the entire North American continent, and is now a common urban bird that is found in parks and backyards.
Scientific name: Spinus tristis
The American Goldfinch is easily recognizable due to its distinctive bright coloration.
Adult males have almost entirely bright yellow plumage, except for a black cap, black wings, and a black tail.
Females are not as brightly colored, but are more buff yellowish-brown with black wings.
It is a common year-round breeding bird in the lone star state, and a regular visitor at bird feeders offering sunflower seeds.
During the winter months, it forms flocks that forage together, feeding on thistles in weedy fields.
Scientific name: Zenaida macroura
The Mourning Dove is one of the most common birds in North America, especially around farms and suburban areas.
This bird is almost entirely grayish-brown with a pale underside. The wings and the tail are pointed, and there is a small black dot on the side of the face.
When viewed up close, a grayish blue eyering as well as pink legs and toes are great distinguishing features of the Mourning Dove.
The Mourning Dove is a common breeding bird in Texas, and can be seen year-round. During the winter it also frequents open woodland, but avoids large forests.
Scientific name: Cyanocitta cristata
A common blue-colored bird, the Blue Jay prefers open areas with scattered trees, shrubs, and other vegetation with dense undergrowth.
These medium-sized birds are grayish blue on top, with bright arctic blue wing feathers and tail feathers. Their underparts are light gray.
They are social birds that live in small groups called colonies, with each colony containing one dominant pair and several subordinate members.
Dominant male birds defend their territory against intruders and aggressively chase away subordinates. Subordinate females and young birds are tolerated but not protected.
These blue backyard birds are opportunistic feeders. They eat fruit, invertebrates, small vertebrates, and carrion, and also steal food from other animals.
During the summer, insects make up the largest part of their diet. They sometimes catch insects in flight, while at other times, they catch insects at ground level using a variety of techniques.
These blue birds of Texas often use man made structures such as buildings, bridges, and telephone poles for foraging.
When hunting for food, jays often run along branches or wires before swooping down to capture prey.
They are partially migratory, but can be seen in central Texas all year round. During the cold season they sometimes move around to areas with a more plentiful supply of food.
If you want to attract these birds to your bird feeder, it’s best to offer them peanuts or sunflower seeds.
Scientific name: Corvus brachyrhynchos
This is a common and easily recognizable black-colored bird in Texas.
American Crows are relatively large birds that are entirely black, including black beaks, legs, and eyes. Both adults and immature birds are completely black, and hard to distinguish from each other .
This is one of the most intelligent birds in the world. It also happens to be one of the most sociable, and it likes to pass the time by harassing other birds.
Similar to vultures and other Texas raptors, American Crows like to feed on roadkill, but rarely get hit by cars themselves.
The American Crow builds a big stick nest in trees, which it likes to reuse for many years. Old crows nests are also used by many other birds, including raptors and owls.
Family groups of crows sleep together at night but split off during the day to go foraging.
Outside of the breeding season, this bird forms massive flocks, sometimes topping out at thousands of birds.
American Crows are common in Texas in open forests and woodlands, as well as farmland and urban areas such as parks, golf courses, and large gardens.
Scientific name: Haemorhous mexicanus
The House Finch is a common small bird in Texas, and is mostly found in settled areas, ranging from small towns to large metropolitan centers.
Adult male House Finches can be identified by the bright red feathers on the head and upper breast, although in some cases they are slightly more orange or yellowish in color.
The females lack any red coloration, and instead have grayish streaks on a brown background.
The House Finch was originally a western bird, and it wasn’t until the 1940s that this bird was discovered in New York and other places on the east coast of the US.
The eastern House Finch population began to grow in the 1950s and 60s, and by the year 2000, it had expanded so far west that it connected with the original western population.
The House Finch is entirely herbivorous, and feeds on seeds, buds, and fruits.
If you set up a bird feeder in your backyard, you can expect House Finches to be among the first birds to visit it.
The House Finch is found throughout Texas all year round, and while it doesn’t migrate, it does move to areas with more food outside of the breeding season.
European Starling (Common Starling)
Scientific name: Sturnus vulgaris
The Common Starling (also known as European Starling) is a common backyard bird in the lone star state. Adult Common Starlings are uniformly black with a glossy sheen.
During winter, the black feathers of Common Starlings are covered with light spots, which can be a great characteristic to identify them.
This species is originally from Europe, Asia, and North Africa, but it was introduced to North America and many other parts of the world, where this bird has established itself as a successful breeding species within a short period of time.
Common Starlings inhabit open country with few trees as their original habitat, but they are also among the most successful urban birds, and are especially common in parks and gardens.
While Common Starlings nest in tree holes in the wild, they are also known to nest inside buildings and nest boxes in urban settings.
Unfortunately, native birds are sometimes driven out of their nesting sites by competing Starlings.
Similar to grackles and other blackbirds, Common Starlings form large flocks outside of the nesting season.
These flocks can contain more than a million individuals, and can be seen performing amazing aerial acrobatics.
Scientific name: Agelaius phoeniceus
The Red-winged Blackbird is one the most abundant birds in Texas, and it is definitely the most common blackbird found in the lone star state during the summer.
The great thing about these Texas blackbirds is that you can easily distinguish males from females.
Male Red-winged Blackbirds are mostly black except for the bright red patches on their wings. In contrast, females (and juvenile birds) are a blackish brown color with white streaks.
Generally speaking, this blackbird lives in open fields and near water. This bird is often found in marshes, wetlands, and around lakes.
To find food, the Red-winged Blackbird travels many miles a day, especially outside of the nesting season.
While this blackbird is primarily a seed-eater during fall and spring, it switches to feeding almost exclusively on insects during summer.
Depending on where this bird is found, the Red-winged Blackbird is either a seasonal migrant (in the north of its range), or a resident (in the south of its range).
Red-winged Blackbirds roost in flocks up to millions of individuals strong, creating a deafening noise with their rapidly beating wings.
In spring, males are usually the first ones to arrive in order to claim a desirable territory before the females arrive.
During the mating season, the male will sing from a conspicuous perch and display the red shoulder patches on his feathers in order to attract the attention of females.
After a female chooses a mate, she builds her nest over shallow water in a thick stand of vegetation. Her chosen mate then aggressively defends the nest against other blackbirds.
The most successful males are bigamous, and can mate with multiple females at the same time.
Scientific name: Quiscalus quiscula
From a distance, a Common grackle seems to be an entirely black-colored bird, making it easy to confuse it with a crow, which is also entirely black.
But in contrast to a crow, the Common Grackle has a pointed beak that is formed like a cone, as well as eyes that are bright yellow, and a long tail that is shaped like a wedge.
In south Texas, this bird lives in open spaces such as meadows, parks, and fields, as well as suburban and residential regions
Male Common Grackles have shimmering purple coloration on the black feathers of their heads, breasts, and necks, as well as other parts of their bodies.
During the nesting season, the females construct large nests in which they will lay a clutch of about five eggs.
In northern parts of its range, the Common Grackle is a migratory summer visitor, but in Texas it can be found year round.
This bird is a member of the New World family of blackbirds, which contains some of the most common birds in North America, many of which like to gather in large flocks and make a lot of noise.
On farms, Common Grackles can congregate in huge flocks to feed on crops and grain, and to roost, which can cause a problem to Texas farmers.
Because this bird is such a versatile species, the Common Grackle can thrive in many different environments.
Scientific name: Melanerpes carolinus
The Red-bellied Woodpecker has a black-and-white “Zebra” pattern on its back, as well as a white rump.
Its red crown goes all the way down to the base of the neck. Both sexes look similar, although the female has a partially gray crown.
The Red-bellied Woodpecker favors shady woodlands, forest edges and backyards with old trees.
This bird excavates holes in rotting wood to locate beetles, centipedes, spiders, and other creatures.
During winter, this bird stores berries and acorns in tree crevices and cracks. Every year, the Red-bellied Woodpecker excavates a new nest below the previous one in the same tree.
While this bird is named for the reddish tinge on its belly, this can be hard to see unless you get a close up view.
Fortunately, this beautiful red headed bird is steadily expanding its range across the whole country.
Scientific name: Picoides pubescens
The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest woodpecker in the lone star state, and is most commonly found in east Texas.
While males are black and white with a small red patch on their nape, females are entirely black and white.
The wings of both sexes are black with white bars, which look like spots when the wings are folded.
Downy Woodpeckers are non-migratory, and can be seen all year round throughout North America, except for the arid regions in southern states.
You can tell this woodpecker apart from the Hairy Woodpecker by its smaller size and short bill.
While Downy Woodpeckers don’t migrate, they like to move around outside of the breeding season, in search of areas with plentiful food.
Their preferred habitat is deciduous or mixed forest, where they feed on insects and insect larvae found under the bark of trees. During winter they also eat berries and seeds.
Scientific name: Picoides villosus
The Hairy Woodpecker looks similar to the Downy Woodpecker, but has a longer, thicker bill, and is a much larger bird overall.
Both the male and the female have black upperparts with white bars on the wing feathers, which look like spots when the wings are folded.
The male has a very small red patch on the back of its head, which is considerably smaller than the red patches on other woodpecker species.
The Hairy Woodpecker is a common breeding bird found throughout North America, and can be seen in Texas year-round.
This woodpecker breeds in both coniferous and deciduous forests, and is even found in parks and other urban areas with trees.
Scientific name: Thryothorus ludovicianus
The Carolina Wren is a common little garden bird with chestnut brown upperparts and creamy white underparts. Wings and tails have dark brown barring.
Males and females look alike, as do young individuals. The Carolina Wren is a non-migratory species, and can be spotted all year round in the state of Texas.
It is a familiar small bird, which can be found in Texas backyards, scrubland, and forests. It feeds mostly on insects and other small invertebrates.
Scientific name: Archilochus colubris
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the smallest bird in Texas. Weighing just 0.1 ounces, it is truly a tiny songbird compared to other species of birds.
The male has a black throat that reflects flashes of ruby red when it catches the sunlight.
Similar to other Hummingbirds, this bird can fly straight up, down, or backwards, and can also hover in mid air, with its wings generating a humming sound like a tiny generator.
Hummingbirds are fascinating creatures that breathe up to 250 times per minute and have a heartbeat of over 1,200 times per minute.
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is attracted to gardens and backyards that have tubular flowers that produce a lot of nectar.
In addition to flower nectar, this bird also feeds on insects. It is a long-distance migrant, and spends its winter in Central America.
Scientific name: Troglodytes aedon
The House Wren is a small songbird with a relatively long beak. Compared to other wrens, this bird has a long tail, which it likes to cock up.
At a distance, House Wrens resemble uniformly brown birds, but when viewed close up, you can discern subtle barring on their wings and tail.
In contrast to the Carolina Wren, which is a year-round resident in Texas, the House Wren is a winter visitor in Texas, where it winters from September through April.
Scientific name: Setophaga coronata
While the sexes of the Yellow-rumped Warbler are dissimilar, they both have a yellow rump.
This warbler exists in several variations, and the eastern population that can be found in Texas are also called “Myrtle Warblers”.
These Texas birds have blueish-gray upperparts with dark streaks, as well as a yellow rump and yellow flanks.
The Yellow-rumped Warbler is a winter visitor in Texas, where it can be seen from August through April.
Scientific name: Sayornis phoebe
The Eastern Phoebe is a plump small flycatcher with mostly gray colored plumage. The wings are slightly darker with blackish primarie and two light gray wing bars.
Both sexes, as well as juvenile birds, look very similar and have buff white underparts. This bird hunts flying insects from a perch, and catches them in flight.
This bird is a winter visitor in Texas that can be seen wintering in parks, backyards and woodlands from September to March.
Scientific name: Passerina ciris
The Painted Bunting is a beautiful small songbird with a very colorful plumage.
Adult males have a bright red breast, throat, belly, and rump, contrasting with a dark blue hood. Their backs and the wings are yellowish green.
Females and immature birds are pale green on top, with buff yellow underparts.
During the months of May through September, the Painted Bunting may be seen breeding in large parts of Texas state.
This small bird is migratory, with most individuals wintering in Central America, except for a few individuals that spend the winter in southern Texas.
The secretive nature of the Painted Bunting makes it hard to observe when you’re bird watching, notwithstanding the bright colors of the male.
Its preferred habitat are clearings and margins of dense forests in areas close to water.
Similar to other buntings, this bird feeds mostly on seeds, except for the breeding season, when insects form an important part of its diet.
Scientific name: Setophaga palmarum
Both sexes of the Palm Warbler are quite similar to one another, with the exception that males tend to have a little more vibrant coloration than females.
The upperparts of adults are olive-brown and subtly striped, while the wings are darker overall with two light wingbars.
A great feature for identifying these smaller birds is their yellow throat and yellow supercilium (eyebrow stripe). The underparts are also mostly yellow with brown streaks.
The Palm Warbler breeds in the northern parts of North America, and winters in Texas from September through April.
Scientific name: Dumetella carolinensis
The Gray Catbird is easily recognizable due to its long tail. Both sexes and juvenile birds look alike and have dark gray body coloration, a black cap and a rufous red undertail.
The Gray Catbird is a scarce breeding bird in Texas, but its numbers increase during the cold season, due to large numbers of migratory catbirds that winter in the lone star state.
They like to forage for insects and berries on the ground, and can be found in forests and scrubland.
They are secretive small birds that are hard to observe.
Scientific name: Baeolophus bicolor
The Tufted Titmouse is a common and easily recognizable small songbird thanks to the distinctive crest on its head.
The sexes resemble each other, and have grayish-blue upperparts with a black forehead and a crest on the back of their head. The underparts are pale gray, but the flanks are tinged with buff orange.
These birds live in Texas all year, and are readily observed, since they aren’t very shy. They are common visitors at backyard feeders, and also breed in nestboxes.
This bird prefers deciduous forests, as well as parks and backyards, where this bird feeds on small invertebrates and seeds.
Great Crested Flycatcher
Scientific name: Myiarchus crinitus
The Great Crested Flycatcher is a slim, long-bodied flycatcher. Adults have a dark brown head and back, as well as reddish brown wings and yellowish underparts.
The tail is rufous orange, and the crest of this bird is relatively small, and not very useful as a distinguishing feature.
The Great Crested Flycatcher is a common sight in Texas during the summer, and it can be seen in the state from April through September.
This bird nests in a wide variety of woodland habitats, and feeds on insects as well as berries. Its winter range extends from Central to South America.
Scientific name: Tachycineta bicolor
The Tree Swallow is relatively common in Texas, and is most often found close to lakes, marshes, and ponds.
Adult Tree Swallows are greenish blue on top, and have buff white underparts. Their feathers are iridescent, and change color when viewed in direct sunlight.
While adult females look similar to adult males, young individuals are more grayish brown with a white underside.
This swallow readily accepts suitable nesting boxes, which gives you an opportunity to attract this attractive blue-colored bird to your backyard.
This bird feeds exclusively on insects that it catches in the air, and as a strict insectivore it is a long distance migrant that only spends the summer in Texas.
Tree Swallows winter around the Gulf of Mexico, as well as in Central America.
Scientific name: Setophaga dominica
The Yellow-throated Warbler is easily identifiable by its vibrant yellow throat, which contrasts with black-and-white head markings and a blueish gray back.
While Yellow-throated Warblers rarely visit feeders, you can still attract them to your backyard by planting native shrubs and trees that provide a suitable foraging habitat for these birds.
Yellow-throated Warblers are year-round residents in Texas, where they nest in deciduous woodlands. But they can be hard to observe, since they mostly forage in treetops.
Scientific name: Poecile carolinensis
The Carolina Chickadee is easily identifiable by its black cap and black throat. Both sexes look similar and have a grayish back and buff white underparts.
The black markings on the head contrast with the bright white cheeks. This bird is a year-round resident in Texas, and nests in deciduous forests.
The Carolina Chickadee readily visits backyard feeders, and has a preference for black oil sunflower seeds. It also accepts nest boxes as a substitute for treeholes.
Scientific name: Sialia sialis
The Eastern Bluebird is a brightly colored and widespread breeding bird in the lone star state.
The upperparts of adult male Eastern Bluebirds are a rich shade of admiral blue. Their blue coloration also extends to their wings, tail, and the back of their heads.
The partial orange collar of males creates the impression of having a cap on their head. Male bluebirds have a prominent orange chest, with shades of warm-toned rufous brown.
The upperparts of adult females have a more grayish-brown color. However, females also have blue tail feathers and wing feathers, as well as a rufous-orange chest and flanks.
It is a migratory bird in the northern part of its range, but can be seen year-round in the southern part of the United States. Northern populations winter in Mexico.
The Eastern Bluebird nests in holes, and competes with House Sparrows and European Starlings for nesting sites.
During their fall migration, they can be seen in flocks that like to feed on fruits and berries.
The population of Eastern Bluebirds underwent a dramatic decline at the end of last century, due to lack of nesting holes and competition with European Starlings.
But largely thanks to the efforts of numerous Texas citizens providing nest boxes for Eastern Bluebirds, these beautiful birds are a common sight once more.
Scientific name: Icterus bullockii
Bullock’s Oriole is a western bird species that is a summer breeding bird in the western half of Texas.
Adult males are flaming orange coupled with a jet black back and a black neck. They also have a large white patch on the wing, and an orange face with a black throat.
Juveniles and females are more grayish-yellow with orange on their face and chest. Endemic to the western United States, it spends the winter in Mexico.
Bullock’s Oriole forages for food on the upper branches of trees and shrubs, searching for fruits and insects.
You can encounter Bullock’s Orioles in open woodlands close to rivers and streams, as well as in parks and orchards.
Scientific name: Zenaida asiatica
The White-winged Dove used to be a bird of remote desert areas, but as a result of adapting to man-made habitats, it is now a common breeding bird in cities and towns of southwest Texas.
The White-winged Dove is almost entirely light gray, except for a bright white stripe on its wings.
It also has a black spot on its cheek, and if viewed close enough, its bright orange eye with light blue eyering is a great distinguishing feature.
These birds are frequently found in urban areas with suitable nesting trees, and are most often encountered foraging on the ground.
What are the top 5 most common birds in Texas?
The top 5 most common birds in Texas are:
- Northern Cardinal
- American Robin
- Mourning Dove
- Blue Jay
- American Crow
Out of these 5 species, the Northern Cardinal is the most frequently seen backyard bird in Texas, and is reported in 48% of eBird checklists submitted for Texas.
While all of these birds are common Texas backyard birds, they can also be found in remote areas.
How can you attract birds to your yard in Texas?
The top 5 things you can do to get Texas birds to visit your backyard are as follows:
- Set up a feeder with sunflower seeds, or a bird seed mix
- Set up a bird bath
- Plant shrubs to provide nesting opportunities
- Plant native fruiting plants to provide foraging opportunities
Tip: if you want to attract Eastern Bluebirds to your backyard feeder, it’s best to offer mealworms, since they’re not interested in seeds.
And if you want to attract American Robins to your feeder, offer apple slices (or other fruits), since they also don’t eat seeds.