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5 Common Dallas Birds and Where to See Them

by
Aug 25th, 2021

Ornithologists, unite!

Dallas is home to many birds of all kinds, especially as it’s a popular wintering location for migratory birds that fly in from colder regions. Here are just a few of the birds you’re most likely to see around your Dallas apartments, as well as some great bird watching spots to find them in!

5 Common Dallas Birds and Where to See Them

Barn swallow

Where to see them: all over

These magnificently colored birds are small but oh-so mighty!

The barn swallow is easily identifiable by its forked tail, dark back and bright orange breast. Its face is a rusty red and it carries a small white patch on its lower back, making it fairly easy to spot on the twigs, branches and trees these little birds perch on.

Barn swallows build their nests out of mud, forming small cup-shaped nests nestled in the nooks and crannies of bridges, roofs and overhangs. If you see one under your patio roof, then don’t fret! The birds are great at keeping bugs and pests out of their home ground, and many cultures see these birds as a sign of blessing and good luck!

Red-tailed hawk

Where to see them: open areas

You’ve probably seen these winged beauties perched high along highways and country roads as they gaze down at the grassy plains below. Feasting mainly on small rodents that are easier to spot among short grasses, the red-tailed hawk is a handy neighbor who provides pest control for farms, barns and homes all over Texas.

Despite the name’s implication, you’re not going to find any true red on this bird of prey. Rather, look for the signature clay-orange tail underneath its blotchy wings. 

Great blue heron

Where to see them: wetlands

Try not to mistake this friendly water bird for an ancient pterodactyl, even though its impressive wingspan and in-flight silhouette might suggest otherwise. 

These great blue herons are most easily identified by their overall grey-colored back, terracotta-colored thighs and a yellowish-black beak. You’re also likely to find them hunting frogs, small fish and crayfish in shallow waters in the summer months, and in winter you can find them scouring the drier uplands for mice.

Killdeer

Where to see them: open areas

With long, thin legs, a white belly, brown wings and a tell-tale black band around their necks, these killdeer are easy to spot in open, grassy areas like fields, parking lots, sports complexes and roadsides. These little critters scamper along the ground looking for bugs and flies, and their song is easy to pick out from the little “kill-dee, kill-dee, kill-dee” sound they make. 

If you see any of these sweet birds in a field or grassy area, keep a close eye out for the killdeer nests tucked away in the grass. Adult killdeers will feign injury and panic in order to lure predators away from their nesting areas, so walk carefully if you see any of these birds limping, screaming or drooping to one side. 

American coot

Where to see them: lakes and reservoirs

Calling someone an old coot is not the most flattering of compliments, but if you spot this wetland bird out and about, then you’re probably alright to go ahead. 

American coots are easy to spot among reeds and grasses of larger bodies of water. They are nearly completely black aside from a bright white beak and red eyes, and their young display slightly whiter heads that gradually grow into black.

You probably won’t spot too many of these birds in the summer, as most of them return north after wintering in Texas during the colder months, but they are nonetheless a common sight around Dallas lakes! 

Where to go birdwatching in Dallas

There are a few things that make a good bird-watching place a good  bird-watching place.

First, make sure that you can find an area that is relatively quiet. And yes, that can be tricky to do in a city as large as Dallas, but the quieter, the better! Birds do get startled by noise and movement, so you’ll have much better luck hearing birdsong and spotting more species if you can find a quiet place to sit and observe in peace. 

Foliage and food are the next signs to look for when going birdwatching. Most birds are at their most active a few hours after sunrise and a few hours before sunset. Why? Because it’s time to eat! If you’re looking for waterfowl, then find a pond that has plenty of foliage for birds to perch in while looking for their next meal, whether that be bugs, berries or fish!

Here are some great spots around Dallas to go birdwatching!

Trinity River Audubon Center

Designed specifically to attract birds and birdwatchers alike, the boardwalk-lined pond provides plenty of opportunity for glimpsing Dallas birds. 

Village Creek Drying Beds

With over 30 small ponds and plenty of surrounding foliage, this old water treatment facility is perfect for those sunrise bird-watching sessions!

White Rock Lake

White Rock Lake is a great spot for watching the many waterfowl and gulls that call Dallas home. Bring a good pair of binoculars, if you have one, as the small coves and inlets are great hiding spots for the many herons and ducks on the open water.

The Heard Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary

Nearly 290 acres of protected wildlife lands make this sanctuary perfect for birdwatching. Stroll along a boardwalk through the wetlands, hike along quiet forest paths and gaze over vast prairies, all the while listening to the songs of dozens of birds. 

McInnish Park

When the nearby sports fields are devoid of tournaments, McInnish Park is a quiet sanctuary for many common birds. The pond, grasses and trees provide perfect coverage for waterfowl, woodpeckers and more, and you’re sure to spot at least a few herons hiding in the reeds, too!

Have fun!

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Featured photo courtesy Pixabay/Elsemargriet

Author of Article

Colleen Ford is a South African who now lives in Spokane, Washington. She loves to travel, camp (in warm weather) and bake.

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