Even though the Texas Hill Country is conveniently located between the bustling cities of Austin and San Antonio, it’s a natural wonderland. Clear, flowing streams and beautiful flora invite you to explore the outdoors. The area is also home to more than 400 bird species. Head to one of these bird-watching locations for a chance to catch a glimpse of the endangered golden-cheeked warbler and many other feathered friends.
Lost Maples State Natural Area – Vanderpool
Lost Maples is perhaps most well-known for its fall foliage. It’s also one of the best places for bird-watching in the Hill Country. You can spot rare bird species, such as the green kingfisher, at any time of year. The varied landscape offers many different types of habitats for a wide variety of bird species. The trails take you past impressive canyon walls and up to picturesque vistas atop dramatic cliffs. You can also take advantage of the area’s camping and fishing opportunities.
Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge – Marble Falls
Golden-cheeked warblers nest only in Texas. You can spot this radiant bird as you stroll along the park’s wildlife-watching and nature trails. The refuge was created with a mission to preserve the habitats of the warbler and black-capped vireo. Balcones Canyonlands is also home to falcons, spoonbills, eagles, hawks and a variety of other wildlife. The unique ecosystem depends on the Edwards Aquifer, which runs beneath the park. Tucked into the habitat are caves, sinkholes and transparent pools that make perfect homes for fish, ringtail cats, raccoons, frogs and salamanders. The wildflowers that bloom in the spring invite dragonflies and butterflies, turning the prairie into a colorful paradise.
Live Oak Wilderness Trail – Fredericksburg
While meandering between black cherry, hackberry and pecan trees on the Live Oak Trail, you’ll notice the diverse environment that makes up the Hill Country. You will stroll among dense forests that open up to grassy prairies. The trail is home to a succulent and cactus garden, a pollinator garden and a large lake. You’ll hear the songs of cardinals and mockingbirds. You might catch a glimpse of the zone-tailed hawk, MacGillvray’s warbler and yellow-crowned night heron.
Pedernales Falls State Park – Johnson City
There is plenty to do in Pedernales Falls State Park even when you’re not looking out for wildlife. Swim in the river, or cycle in the scenic Hill Country. You can take a tube or small boat out on the water or spend the night camping out and watching the stars. If you’re a devoted bird watcher, you’ll probably enjoy the park’s bird blind. Approximately 150 species have been identified in the area. About 30 percent of them live there permanently. You can catch sight of roadrunners, wild turkeys, doves, owls and rufous-crowned sparrows throughout the year. Golden-cheeked warblers start to flock to the park in early spring.
Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory – Austin
This 1200-acre property is located at the old wastewater treatment facility at Hornsby Bend. Its lagoons draw in thousands of birds from all over the world every year. Some come from as far away as Siberia. Others are local Texas birds. Some waterfowl fly south to spend their winters on the water in Hornsby Bend. June and January are slow months for spotting birds here, but you can enjoy watching the different species as they stop at the observatory on their migrations in just about every other month.
The 55+ community of Kissing Tree is conveniently located near all of these bird-watching areas. The property also offers its own abundance of amenities, including a pool, fitness center and 18-hole golf course. When you’re hanging around the grounds, you’re bound to enjoy the variety of birds that visit all through the year.