GUIDE: Here are 12 bird species that find habitat in The Woodlands area

Despite its proximity to the country’s fourth-largest city—The Woodlands is about 30 miles from downtown Houston—south Montgomery County provides a suitable habitat for many native bird species, said Donna Work, a biologist with Texas A&M Forest Service. The forest service owns and administrates W. G. Jones State Forest, a 1,700-acre preserved natural area that crosses both FM 1488 and Hwy. 242 north of The Woodlands.


According to Texas A&M, the forest is recognized by the American Bird Conservancy as one of the country’s most important birding areas in part because it is a habitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker as well as being an old-growth pine forest, providing unique ecosystems for a variety of wildlife.


However, the forest is not the only place where birdwatchers can find unusual species nesting or looking for grubs and seeds. Because of the wooded nature of much of The Woodlands area, residents can see unusual species in their own backyards if they look carefully and maintain attractive environments.


“We’re a highly urbanized forest,” Word said. “There is a lot of development going on around us all the time and a little island of habitat. That’s a good thing for the birds to have it there, but there’s a lot of wildlife that travel, so it’s good to have trees or forested travel corridors from one large bit of the forest to the next. Each person in their yard could possibly plant some trees for some of the birds that could handle being in that type of habitat.”


Providing safe resting places for traveling birds and nesting areas for long-term residents can help ensure species thrive in the area, she said.


“The Woodlands was built on that premise of leaving green spaces, and besides looking pretty it is habitat for some wildlife and [provides] clean air,” Work said.


Among species that can be seen in the area are the colorful Eastern bluebird, the iconic bald eagle and brightly colored ruby-throated hummingbird as well as indigo and painted buntings. Birdfeeders might attract an American goldfinch or cedar waxfing to their feeders, or spy a hunting Eastern screech owl at night.



Red-cockaded woodpecker


W.G. Jones State Forest is home to this federally listed endangered species, which roosts and nests in live pine cavities. The bird’s nesting areas are closed to the public from March 15-July 15.


Habitat: Open Woodlands
Food: Insects
Nesting: Cavity





Eastern bluebird


Male bluebirds can be identified by their bright blue plumage and red breast feathers. Females are more gray in tone. Meal worms are a preferred food source for the species.


Habitat: Grasslands
Food: Insects
Nesting: Cavity





Eastern screech owl


Known for their distinctive calls at night, these tiny owls respond well to backyard nesting boxes. Males are smaller than females, and couples are known to mate for life.


Habitat: Forest
Food: Small animals
Nesting: Cavity





American goldfinch


The goldfinch responds well to bird feeders, and males are easiest to spot with their bright yellow coats visible in early spring. The birds molt twice a year and nest in June or July.


Habitat: Open Woodlands
Food: Seeds
Nesting: Shrub





Ruby-throated hummingbird


This hummingbird species can be seen during migration and breeding seasons in Texas and are attracted to sugar-water mixtures.


Habitat: Open Woodlands
Food: Nectar
Nesting: Tree





Summer tanager


The males of this species are completely red, while the females are yellow. The birds are known for catching bees and wasps in flight.


Habitat: Open Woodlands
Food: Insects
Nesting: Tree





Snowy egret


Preferring marshy areas, the male and female birds take turns incubating their eggs and care for young together.


Habitat: Marshes
Food: Fish
Nesting: Tree





Brown-headed nuthatch


Denizens of southern pine forests, the small blue-gray birds are attracted to suet and tend to nest in standing dead trees.


Habitat: Forest
Food: Insects
Nesting: Cavity





Bald eagle


Now listed as a low-concern species on the conservation scale, the bald eagle is known for its white-feathered head. The birds were previously threatened by hunting and pesticides.


Habitat: Forest
Food: Fish
Nesting: Tree





Mississippi kite


This gray raptor flies to South America for the winter, but when in the area they can sometimes be seen hunting in groups.


Habitat: Open Woodlands
Food: Insects
Nesting: Tree





Indigo bunting and painted bunting


Colorful indigo bunting males have bright blue plumage, while the painted buntings boast a host of rainbow hues. The birds are seen in late spring and summer.


Habitat: Open Woodlands
Food: Insects
Nesting: Shrub





American kestrel


A small falcon, the kestrel boasts bright colors, with a slate-blue head and ruddy tail. Conservationists recommend putting up nest boxes to help keep their numbers strong.


Habitat: Grasslands
Food: Small animals
Nesting: Cavity


By Vanessa Holt
A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of that paper in March 2017 and editor of The Woodlands edition in January 2019.


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