The lush, scenic terrain of Davis Mountains State Park rests within Texas’s most sweeping mountain range, which was formed by volcanic activity 65 million years ago.
I enjoy the array of birds in the park during the mild autumns. At the entrance, I immediately look around for a Phainopepla perched at the top of an oak and a Spotted Towhee rustling near a cenizo. I then descend into the mountain-ringed valley and stop at the bird-observation station, where I sit on benches near birdfeeders and watch Black-chinned Hummingbirds that have not yet migrated south, Lesser Goldfinches flitting in the trees, a Western Bluebird sitting regally on a limb, and a Bewick’s Wren poking in the sticks and leaves.
The observation station is the place to be in late afternoon when Montezuma Quail come to feed. The birds, common breeders in the park, are desert brown, and males have striking black-and-white harlequin faces. Nearby, at the Interpretive Center’s birdfeeding station and bird bath, Ladder-backed and Acorn Woodpeckers are generally present, as are Pyrrhuloxia and Hepatic Tanager. — Gary Clark
Gary Clark is the founder of the Texas Rare Bird Alert and an award-winning nature writer. He wrote about birding in northeast Mexico in our June 2009 issue.
At a Glance
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Grasslands, oak-juniper-pinyon woodlands, hills, and rocky outcrops.
Rolling hills and mountain slopes. Paved park roads. Nine miles of hiking trails; some are wheelchair-accessible.
277 species; 148 breeding species. Targets in fall: Montezuma Quail, Band-tailed Pigeon, White-throated Swift, Red-naped Sapsucker, and Mountain Chickadee. Other fall birds: Turkey Vulture, Sharp-shinned Hawk, White-winged Dove, Western Screech-Owl, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Acorn and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, Say’s Phoebe, Western Scrub-Jay, Common Raven, Bushtit, White-breasted Nuthatch, Cactus, Rock, and Bewick’s Wrens, Western Bluebird, Curve-billed Thrasher, Orange-crowned Warbler, Pyrrhuloxia, Green-tailed, Spotted, and Canyon Towhees, and Rufous-crowned Sparrow.
When to go
Spring and fall for resident and migrating birds, early August for migratory hummingbirds.
Restrooms, camping and R.V. sites, several birdfeeding stations, motel, and restaurant. List of recent bird sightings at park headquarters. Downloadable checklist.
State park. Open year-round. Fees: $5 per day per person 13 and older for day use, and $4 per day per person 13 and older for overnight use.
Spotting scope helpful. Bring a long telephoto lens if you have it. Sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, and light jacket recommended.
For more info
Davis Mountains State Park, (432) 426-3337