San Antonio is a bird hotspot with 250 recorded species

The golden-fronted woodpecker and the red-shouldered hawk are among the hundreds of bird species that call San Antonio home — at least for part of the year.

Not only are they two of the 250 species recorded in San Antonio, they are also among the 615 species found in Texas, which is more than any other US state, according to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

Texas sees a larger diversity of birds because it is along a major migratory pathway that stretches more than 5,000 miles from Central and South America to the polar regions of North America known as the Central Flyway.

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“For many species, this marks a geographical limit of their range, so you can find both eastern and western bird species, resulting in a greater diversity,” Connie Swann, a marketing manager with the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department wrote in an email . “It is also within the Central Flyway, so many migratory species pass through or winter here.”

Common bird species in San Antonio include the boat-tailed grackle and white-winged dove. Birds, including small species like the black-crested titmouse and golden-fronted woodpecker and larger species like the red-shouldered hawk and snowy egret, usually come to roost and nest in the San Antonio area around late February or early March and stay until September or October.

During the winter, most San Antonio species and their young head south to warmer climates. However, winter also sees a variety of species in the San Antonio area, Swann said.

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“The kinds of birds found in San Antonio will vary by habitat and time of year, but no matter where you are, a variety of birds can be seen,” Swann wrote.

San Antonio has been recognized as a leader in bird conservation since 2021 by the TPWD and Audubon Texas, as one of seven Texas cities certified in the Bird City Texas program.

However, San Antonio was ranked the No. 10 most deadly city in the country for spring migratory birds by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, due in part to light from buildings confusing birds. The top two threats to birds in the United States are free-ranging house cats, which kill an estimated 1.3 billion to 4 billion birds annually, and birds striking buildings, which kill an estimated 600 million additional birds each year.

To help birds, TPWD encourages San Antonio residents to:

  • Turn lights off at night
  • Provide food, with native plants being the best source of bird food
  • Bird feeders and baths should be properly maintained, with bird baths and feeders cleaned every two weeks with a solution of nine parts water to one part bleach. Be sure to scrub off any debris before soaking in the bleach solution. Ensure the feeder is completely dry before refilling and hanging back up
  • Landscape with native plants
  • Keep cats indoors
  • Reduce the use of pesticides
  • Prevent window collisions, learn how at the Audubon’s website

Birds are an important part of San Antonio’s ecosystem for multiple reasons, Swann wrote.

“They help keep insect and rodent populations in check. They serve as pollinators for many native plant species. Birds play a role in helping us better understand our climate and environmental change by serving as key bio-indicator species,” Swann wrote.

Birding fans can use Ebird.org as a resource for finding birding locations and “hot spots” throughout the city, including the kinds of birds at each location.

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