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25 Biggest Birds In Texas (Photos & ID Info)

Living in Texas and saw some big birds but are not sure which ones they were?

Texas is known for its wildlife, and according to the Texas Bird Records Committee (TBRC), there are over 650 species of birds there. And just like in Florida and Michigan, there is plenty of those that can grow into impressive sizes.

The list of big birds in Texas includes Caspian terns, great horned owls, whooping cranes, great blue herons, great egrets, bald eagles, black and turkey vultures, and many others. 

The biggest bird in Texas is the American white pelican with a length of 70 inches and a wingspan of 120 inches.

The only bird that is bigger in entire North America is the California condor which isn’t found in TX.

Some of these Texas’s enormous birds, like the great horned owl, brown pelican, and the great blue heron, can be seen year-round in the state, while others, like Caspian tern, common loon, and osprey, will only spend winters there. 

Here’s the list from the smallest to the biggest bird.

Big Birds In Texas

American White Ibis

american white ibis

Scientific name: Eudocimus albus
Lifespan: 16 years in the wild
Wingspan: 35-41 in
Length: 21-28 in
Weight: 1.3-2.7 lb
Range In Texas: Year-round resident along the coast of Texas

American white ibises are large wetland birds with all-white plumage and black wing tips seen during flight. They also have very long legs, pink facial skins, and long necks held straight in flight. Their bright red-orange downcurved beaks become pink with black tips during the breeding season.

Males tend to be bigger than females and have longer beaks.

American white ibises are permanent residents in Texas but are most easy to see from spring to fall. They inhabit shallow coastal marshes, wetlands, mangrove swamps, and even parks and golf courses.

American white ibises make several sounds, including the honking “urnk-urnk” call they use in flight or when agitated, and the muted “huu-huu” call when foraging. They are very social birds with some colonies including over 30,000 birds!

One field study in Florida discovered that white ibises spent around 10 hours a day looking for food, less than an hour flying, and 13 hours resting and roosting.

They are carnivores and consume crabs, crayfish, fish, snakes, frogs, and insects that they find by probing the ground with their long beaks. White ibises are protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act – it is illegal to hunt them.


Crested Caracara

crested caracara

Scientific name: Caracara cheriway
Lifespan: up to 30 years
Wingspan: 47-52 in
Length: 20-26 in
Weight: 2-3.5 lb
Range In Texas: Year-round resident in southern Texas

Crested caracaras are the largest falcon species found in Texas. They are year-round residents in southern and central parts of the state and can be seen around open habitats, fields and marshes.

These large raptors measure up to 26 inches in length and span up to 52 inches across their wings – this makes them the second-largest falcon species in the world, after gyrfalcons.

Crested caracaras are dark brown overall and have white necks, black caps on their white heads, orange facial skin, and long yellow legs. Although mainly quiet, crested caracaras might make some rattling sounds, like moving a stick along the fence, during the breeding season.

Commons Crested caracaras are opportunistic feeders that eat carcasses, food of other raptors, insects, and some fruit. They will often chase away black and turkey vultures from roadkills.

Despite being usually seen alone or in small family groups, when roosting or feeding on a carcass, crested caracaras might form groups of 20 to 80 birds at a time. You might also notice these large and long-legged birds of prey walking on the ground or perching conspicuously on a fence post or telephone pole.

Crested caracaras are also the national emblem of Mexico, and are also named “Mexican eagles”.


Caspian Tern

caspian tern
Savithri Singh, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons (edited)

Scientific name: Hydroprogne caspia
Lifespan: 12 years
Wingspan: 50–57 in
Length: 19–24 in
Weight: 1.1-1.72 lb
Range In Texas: Winter resident along the coast of Texas

The Caspian tern is the largest tern in Texas and the world.

In the state, this big bird breeds near sea level on barren dredge spoil, islands, and shell beaches along the Gulf Coast of Texas. Most populations will come to winter there – some might even stay year-round.

Caspian tern is easily recognizable by its large head, coral red beak, shallowly forked tail, and deep, raspy call. It also has white color overall with pale gray upperwings. 

This bird got its name from the early associations with the Caspian Sea where Caspian terns are fairly common even today. 

Caspian terns are very aggressive when defending their breeding colony. They will pursue, attack, and chase away potential predatory birds, and even bite people on their heads if they invade their space. 

Caspian terns will hover high over the water, scanning for fish. When they spot one, they will fly down rapidly and dive to catch it. They also occasionally feed on large insects, the young and eggs of other birds, and some rodents.


Common Loon

common loon

Scientific nameGavia immer
Lifespan: 20-30 years
Wingspan: 50-57.8 in
Length: 26-36 in
Weight: 4.9-16.8 lb
Range In Texas: Winter resident in Southern Texas

Common loons are large diving waterbirds with rounded heads and dagger-like beaks. During summer, adults are black above, white below, and have black heads and bills, and black-and-white spots on their backs. When the non-breeding season comes, the dramatic black and white colors will change into a winter plumage of dull dark gray with white on the front of the neck and breast. 

Common loons are the largest loon species in Texas and can be seen in the state during winter, most commonly on the Upper Texas Coast. They breed in Canada, the Northern and Northeastern USA, and southern parts of Greenland and Iceland.

During the breeding season, these black water birds are common on forested lakes and large ponds; during the non-breeding season, look for common loons on inland lakes, bays, inlets, and streams. 

These excellent divers can stealthily submerge without a splash to catch fish, go over 200 feet below the water’s surface, stay there for up to 5 minutes, and swallow their prey underwater. 

Common loons primarily feed on fish, crustaceans, insect larvae, mollusks, and occasionally aquatic plants. They are monogamous and the pair may breed together for a decade or more. Both the male and the female will often together defend a territory.


Herring Gull

herring gull

Scientific nameLarus argentatus
Lifespan: up to 50 years
Wingspan: 47-61 in
Length: 24-26 in
Weight: 2.31–3.64 lb
Range In Texas: Winter resident in Eastern and Southern Texas

Herring gulls are the largest gulls found in Texas. These heavily built birds measure from 21 to 26 inches long, weigh from 1.3 to 3.6 pounds, and span up to 61 inches across the wings.

They are one of the most common and familiar gulls in Texas and can be seen around the coast and large lakes, and rivers.

Identify these large birds by their sloping foreheads, full chests, and long and powerful beaks. Adults are light gray with dark wingtips, white irises, and pink legs. Notice their massive beaks with a red spot on the lower mandible.

These birds are omnivores, primarily scavengers (like other gulls). They feed on invertebrates, fish, insects, carrion, and human refuse. Herring gulls are intelligent birds that can be often seen dropping clams and mussels from a height on hard surfaces to open them.


Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk

Scientific NameButeo regalis
Lifespan: up to 20 years in the wild
Wingspan: 48-60 in
Length: 20-27 in
Weight: 2-5 lb
Range In Texas: Winter resident in Western Texas

Ferruginous hawks are the second largest and heaviest hawks found in Texas, after ospreys. They weigh from 2 to 5 pounds and can span up to 5 feet across the wings.

Their scientific name “ferruginous” comes from Latin and means “iron-rust color” and refers to their reddish-brown plumage. They are one of the largest North American raptors and due to their size, behavior, and proportions, people might mistake them for eagles.

Identify them by their broad tails and wings, large heads, and feathered legs (similar to rough-legged hawks); listen for their scratchy screaming “kree” alarm calls. 

These hawks come in 2 morphs – light-morph Ferruginous hawks have rusty-brown upperparts, pale whitish heads, necks, underparts, and gray upperwings. Dark morphs have dark brown plumage overall with some light areas on the wings. 

Ferruginous hawks breed in grasslands, sagebrush, and edges of pinyon-juniper forests, and have a clutch of 4 whitish eggs with red-brown spots. They might move south to spend winter and during that period, they will roost in groups of up to a dozen birds. 

They are carnivores and have a diet consisting of rabbits, hares, pocket gophers, ground squirrels, and prairie dogs – they hunt by scanning their surroundings from a perch, by hunting on the ground, or hovering and kiting in place.


Wild Turkey

Enormous Wild Turkey On Grass

Scientific nameMeleagris gallopavo 
Lifespan: 3-5 years in the wild
Wingspan: 49.2-56.7 in
Length: 30-49 in
Weight: 5.5-24 lb
Range In Texas: Year-round resident throughout Texas

Wild turkeys are native to North America and are considered to be ancestors of domestic turkeys. They are the main course on Thanksgiving and Benjamin Franklin called them “a true original native of America.”  

Wild turkeys are permanent residents of Texas, found statewide around the woods and mountains. Texas has one of the largest wild turkey populations in the USA with some estimates claiming a total population of half a million wild turkeys in Texas.

Texas is also the only state with 3 of the 5 subspecies of these birds. Those are the Rio Grande, Eastern, and Merriam’s wild turkeys.

Wild turkeys are among the largest birds in North America and can be identified by their large bodies, long legs, and small heads. They are mostly brown and males have red wattles on their throats and necks. 

Adult males called toms usually weigh 11 to 24 pounds; females (hens) are smaller and weigh 5.5–11.9 pounds. According to the National Wild Turkey Federation, the heaviest wild turkey ever recorded weighed 37.1 pounds!

These enormous birds have good eyesight and hearing and prefer to stay hidden. Wild turkeys are most known for the gobble call (ll-obble-obble-obble) males use to attract females. 


Great Horned Owl

great horned owl

Scientific name: Bubo virginianus
Lifespan: 15-25 years
Wingspan: 35.8-60.2 in
Length: 17-25 in
Weight: 2.7-3.5 lb
Range In Texas: Year-round resident throughout Texas

The majestic great horned owl is the largest owl in Texas measuring almost two feet in length. It can be found throughout the year in the state. 

It is also the largest owl in North America and lives in mountains, grasslands, conifer forests, deserts, chaparrals, and many other habitats. 

The great horned owl has the most diverse diet of all North American raptors. An aggressive and excellent hunter, this big bird feeds on rabbits, hares, rats, mice, voles, other small mammals, larger mid-sized mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. 

It might occasionally even attack larger prey, including raptors such as ospreys, Peregrine falcons, prairie falcons, and other owls. 

It hunts using its acute hearing and excellent eyesight and can fly in near silence to catch the prey by surprise. 

In case you see a great horned owl in person, you will notice long, earlike tufts, intimidating yellow eyes, and a deep hooting call. It has a gray-brown plumage with a mottled pattern and a white patch at the throat. 

These nocturnal Texas birds are monogamous and may stay together for over five years, sometimes even for a lifetime.


Roseate Spoonbill

roseate spoonbill

Scientific name: Platalea ajaja 
Lifespan: 10-15 years
Wingspan: 47-52 in
Length: 28-34 in
Weight: 2.6-4 lb
Range In Texas: Year-round resident along the Texas coast

Slightly longer than great horned owls, roseate spoonbills are birds that look like they came out of a horror movie. They are gorgeous at a distance and quite bizarre up close because of their pale pink plumage that looks like it was dipped in blood.

Roseate spoonbills get their pink coloration from the pigments called carotenoids these vivid Texas birds will eat crustaceans and other aquatic invertebrates that are full of those pigments and turn their feathers pink. 

It was these amazing feathers that almost got them extinct – people were hunting roseate spoonbills so much for their plumage that in 1920 there were only 179 of them in Texas. Luckily, they managed to recover, rebuild their populations, and recolonize areas along the Gulf Coast of Texas.

In case you decide to go searching for them, look for groups of pink birds foraging in the shallows of fresh and saltwater, often with egrets and ibises nearby. The best time to do so would be from March through October as some populations might migrate to Central and South America in the winter.

They are carnivores that eat crustaceans, aquatic insects, frogs, newts, and very small fish. And similar to humans, these birds will lose feathers from the top of their heads as they get older.

In Texas, their mating season lasts from March through June.


Common Loon

common loon

Scientific name: Gavia immer
Lifespan: 20-30 years
Wingspan: 50-57.8 in
Length: 26-36 in
Weight: 4.9-16.8 lb
Range In Texas: Winter resident along the coast of Texas

The common loon or the great northern diver is the largest species of loon found in Texas. This huge bird is most likely to be seen on the Upper Texas Coast. If you live close to Galveston Island, the common loon is a regular visitor there during winter.

Loons usually arrive in Texas around November/December.

This large diving waterbird is easy to spot by its rounded head and dagger-like beak. The common loon is famous for its eerie, beautiful calls (the wail, tremolo, yodel, and hoot). 

During summer, adults have black heads and bills, white breast color, and black-and-white spots on their backs. 

By the time these loons reach south, the dramatic black and white colors will change into a winter plumage of dull dark gray with white on the front of the neck and breast.

Common loons are excellent divers that can stealthily submerge without a splash to catch fish. They can go over 200 feet below the water’s surface, stay there for up to 5 minutes, and swallow their prey underwater.

Common loons mostly feed on fish, crustaceans, insect larvae, mollusks, and occasionally aquatic plants. 

They are monogamous and the pair may breed together for a decade or more. Both the male and the female will often together defend a territory. 

The common loon is a state bird of Minnesota, a provincial bird of Ontario (Canada), one of the two loons that can be seen in Michigan, and one of 5 species of loon found in Canada.


Black Vulture

black vulture

Scientific name: Coragyps atratus
Lifespan: 10 years in the wild (up to 25 years)
Wingspan: 52-66 in
Length: 22–29 in
Weight: 3.5-6.6 lb
Range In Texas: Year-round resident in central and southeastern Texas

The black vulture, also known as the American black vulture, is a large raptor. 

It has a sooty black plumage, a bare black head, and white wingtips. It can be found in forests and open areas of southeastern United States, Mexico, Central, and South America. 

In Texas, this large bird is a year-round resident in the eastern two-thirds of the state. It is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and you can’t kill it without a permit.

The black vulture is often mistaken for the turkey vulture – the black vulture is a bit smaller, has shorter wings and tail, and the wings have white wing patches (stars)

Black vultures are monogamous and pairs are believed to mate for life – both the male and female will take turns incubating their eggs. 

They are very aggressive so other vulture species tend to avoid them. 

They are also carnivores that feed on carrion but may also hunt and eat small reptiles, birds, and mammals. 

To escape from danger, black vultures might regurgitate partially digested food, to distract the attacker and become lighter before flying away.

Black vultures are a bit shorter than common loons but have a lot bigger wingspan which puts them ahead on the list of Texas’s biggest birds.


Osprey

osprey

Scientific name: Pandion haliaetus 
Lifespan: 15-20 years
Wingspan: 50–71 in
Length: 19.7-26 in
Weight: 2-4.6 lb 
Range In Texas: Winter resident along the coast of Texas

Ospreys are very large birds found during winter on the Gulf Coast of Texas. They migrate through Texas from March through May and again from September through November. Some overwinter in the state, but only a few breed there.

Ospreys are large birds of prey in Texas that can reach 26 inches in length and 71 inches across the wings. They have brown upperparts and predominantly greyish heads and underparts. 

What is unusual for ospreys is that they have a reversible outer toe that allows them to grasp with two toes in front and two behind. Such adaptation prevents fish from slipping away. 

They are also known as “sea hawks” or “fish hawks” and will hover above the water, locate their prey and then swoop down for the capture with their talons extended.

Ospreys are piscivorous and fish makes up 99% of their diet. In Texas, their favorite type of fish is mullet.

During their 20-year-long lifetime, these migratory birds can travel over 160,000 miles.

You will mostly find them near water, just as one might expect from a fish-eating bird.


Turkey Vulture

turkey vulture

Scientific name: Cathartes aura
Lifespan: 16 years in the wild 
Wingspan: 63–72 in
Length: 24–32 in
Weight: 1.8-5.3 lb
Range In Texas: Year-round resident in central and southeastern Texas

This is the most widespread of the New World vultures and the largest vulture in Texas. 

It got its name due to its resemblance to a wild turkey and is also known as the turkey buzzard (or just buzzard).

Turkey vultures are a familiar sight in the sky over the entire state throughout the year. 

You will recognize them by their bald heads, dark plumage, and long, broad wings. These birds have an impressive wingspan of around 67.5 in and are bigger than other raptors, except eagles and condors. 

They have a huge range and an estimated population of over 18 million birds.

Look for them in the open areas including mixed farmland, forest, and rangeland. 

Turkey vultures are also very social birds that roost in large community groups that can include several hundred individuals. 

Their diet mostly includes carrion and human garbage located through the use of smell, although they might occasionally catch live prey, including young or sick birds and mammals. 

You might see them sit in trees on the sides of roads in Texas waiting for their next meal. 

They have extremely strong stomach acids which allow them to eat and digest carcasses tainted with anthrax, tuberculosis, and rabies, without getting sick. 

They might be big and look scary, but turkey vultures actually do a great service across the US. by removing dead animals and preventing the transmission of any diseases those dead animals could have carried.

Read More: 25+ birds found in Central Texas


Great Egret

great egret

Scientific name: Ardea alba
Lifespan: 22 years
Wingspan: 52-67 in
Length: 31-41 in
Weight: 1.5-3.3 lb
Range In Texas: Year-round resident along the coast and summer resident in eastern Texas

This impressively large bird has a huge wingspan of up to 67 inches and can be found during summer in eastern parts of Texas. Some populations will even spend the entire year around the Gulf Coast.

You will find them in different habitats, from Gulf Coast marshes to inland lakes, ponds, ditches, creeks, and golf courses.

Great egrets are one of the biggest birds found in the state and are easy to recognize by their all-white plumage, long yellowish-orange beaks, and long black legs. 

These members of the heron family are the second largest in North America with only the great blue heron being larger. 

Hunted for their beautiful plumes called “aigrettes” that were used as hat decoration in the 19th century, great egrets almost became extinct. Thanks to several laws and conservational measures, their numbers have since recovered. 

They are similar to pelicans because of their white plumage; great egrets can also tuck their long necks right into their backs during flight. 

They are seasonally monogamous (stay with the same partner for one breeding season) and breed in colonies in trees close to large lakes. A male great egret will display its mating season plumage and colors and point its beak upward to attract a female. 

Great egrets will slowly stalk their prey or stay motionless, waiting for the right moment to strike and impale prey with their long, sharp bills. 

They forage in shallow water or drier habitats and mostly feed on fish, frogs, small mammals, small reptiles, crustaceans, and insects.


Northern Gannet

Northern Gannets at a sea colony

Scientific name: Morus bassanus
Lifespan: up to 26 years
Wingspan: 67-71 in
Length: 34.2-39.3 in
Weight: 5-8 lb
Range In Texas: Winter resident along the Texas coast

Northern gannets are the largest species of the gannet family found in Texas. Adults measure from 34 to 39 inches long and have a massive wingspan of up to 71 inches.

These huge birds are mostly white with dark wingtips and cream-colored heads and necks – that color becomes more prominent during the breeding season. Identify them also by their long pointed beaks, wings, and tails.

They spend most of their life at sea, but close to the land which means you will be able to spot them from the Texas shore. They have an interesting way of hunting where they dive like a torpedo into the water to grab fish. Thanks to their sharp vision, northern gannets can detect prey underwater, and due to their eye adaptations, they can see well immediately after going underwater.

They are mostly found in large feeding groups and have a harsh “arrah-arrah” call.


Canada Goose

canada goose

Scientific name: Branta canadensis
Lifespan: 10-24 years
Wingspan: 50-73 in
Length: 30-43 in
Weight: 5.7–14.3 lb
Range In Texas: Winter resident throughout most of Texas

This large wild goose has a black head and neck, white cheeks, white under its chin, and a brown body. 

Although Canada geese spend winters in Texas, their numbers there have been on the decline. During some recent mid-winter surveys of Texas coastal zones, around 100 of these birds were spotted. The main reason for this has been the reduction of rice and corn production in the state – something these birds love feeding on.

They breed in urban and cultivated habitats with lots of food and few natural predators. 

There are 7 subspecies of Canada goose – one of them, the giant Canada goose (B. c. maxima), is considered the largest goose in the world. 

Canada geese are known for flying in a distinctive V-formation and series of loud “honks” calls.


Wood Stork

wood stork

Scientific name: Mycteria americana
Lifespan: up to 27 years
Wingspan: 55–71 in
Length: 33.5-45.3 in
Weight: 4.4-5.8 lb
Range In Texas: Summer resident along the Texas coast

The wood stork is one of the largest wading birds in Texas and the only stork regularly found in the United States. 

This huge and heavy-billed bird is a summer resident found mostly along the Gulf Coast of Texas. They will spend the summer in the state and take advantage of the area’s abundant fish. 

In the late fall, they head south to spend the winter and breed in South America.

Wood storks are easy to recognize by naked dark gray heads and necks, white plumage with black-edged wings and tails, long legs, and long, slightly curved black bills. 

Wood storks are listed as threatened in the US. After three-decade-long conservation and recovery efforts, the species moved from endangered to threatened species in June 2014. 

Wood storks are also very social birds that feed in flocks and nest in large rookeries – sometimes with several pairs on a single tree. 

They build large stick nests in the trees, the female will lay two to five eggs, and both of the parents will take turns incubating them for about one month. To keep their nestlings cool, wood storks will regurgitate water over them. 

This stork might not bring babies, but it is still one of the biggest birds in Texas.

Read More: Examples of the biggest Pennsylvania’s birds


Sandhill Crane

sandhill crane

Scientific name: Grus canadensis
Lifespan: 20 years
Wingspan: 78.7 in
Length: 47.2 in
Weight: 6-14.8 lb
Range In Texas: Winter resident in central and western Texas

Sandhill cranes are very large, tall birds with long necks and legs, and very broad wings. These large birds in Texas with red heads have a truly unique look.

Sandhill cranes can be identified by their mostly slate gray plumage, rusty washes on the upperparts, pale cheeks in adults, red head patches, and black legs. 

Sandhill cranes will leave their northern breeding grounds and begin arriving on the Upper Texas Coast around October. The best time to see them is December until February when their largest numbers are in the state. Most of them will leave around the end of March.

Look for them in open areas such as wetlands, prairies, and grasslands. Some good spots include wet fields around Houston and in Brazos Bend State Park and Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. Large numbers can also be seen at Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge in the Texas Panhandle.

Of the many giant birds in Texas, sandhill cranes are also one of the most striking. 

With a wingspan of almost 7 feet, a height of 4 feet, and an average weight of 10 pounds, these beautiful birds are just slightly smaller than their endangered cousin, the whooping crane.

Sandhill cranes are fairly social birds and can be usually found in pairs or family groups throughout the year. They are also monogamous and mate for life, staying together for years, until one of the cranes dies.

Their diet mostly consists of plant material, including waste grain, roots, berries, nuts, some insects, and snails.

Read More: What are some examples of common birds of San Antonio?


Golden Eagle

golden eagle

Scientific name: Aquila chrysaetos
Lifespan: up to 30 years
Wingspan: 70.8-90.1 in
Length: 26-40 in
Weight: 7.9-11 lb
Range In Texas: Winter residents in western parts of Texas

Texas is lucky to see one of North America’s largest eagle species, the golden eagle. It can be seen during winter in western parts of the state.

The best chance of seeing them is from September to April. Golden eagles are migratory birds that mostly move late in fall and early in spring. They tend to spend more time in southern states during the cooler months of the year.

These huge raptors of North Texas are one of the largest, fastest, and most agile birds of prey in North America and can be identified by the overall dark brown plumage, with the lighter golden-brown color of their napes.

Their agility and speed together with powerful feet and large, sharp talons allow them to hunt rabbits, hares, ground squirrels, and prairie dogs.

Read More: 17 examples of biggest birds of Colorado


Bald Eagle

bald eagle

Scientific name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Lifespan: 20-30 years in the wild
Wingspan: 70.8-90.5 in
Length: 28-40 in
Weight: 6.6-13.9 lb
Range In Texas: Year-round resident in southeastern parts of Texas and winter resident in the rest of the state

Bald eagles are the largest raptors found in Texas.

One of the largest and most iconic birds of North America, this enormous bird of prey is easy to recognize by its commanding presence, white head and tail, brown plumage, and bright yellow beak. 

The bald eagle can be found throughout the year in southeastern parts of Texas. During winter, it inhabits almost all other parts of the state.

Bald eagles migrate into Texas in the fall and begin to migrate out in March, breeding in the state from October through February.

If you live in East Texas, the best place to find bald eagles would be around Toledo Bend Reservoir. There are around 25 pairs of these eagles.

After recovering from 75 pairs in 1970, bald eagles are now doing very well in the state and are a common sight around lakes, rivers, and wetlands of Texas.

Some estimates claim that there are around 300 pairs of bald eagles in Texas in total. 

They are carnivores and opportunistic feeders that mostly consume fish, which they snatch from the water. Bald eagles might even use their 2-inch-long talons to grab young wolves.

These birds are hard to miss as they soar through the air with their 7.5-foot-wide wingspan. 

Bald eagles build the largest nests of any North American bird and the largest tree nests ever recorded for any animal species. Their nests can be up to 13 ft deep and 8.2 ft wide. 

Read more about big birds found in Illinois here.


Great Blue Heron

great blue heron

Scientific name: Ardea herodias
Lifespan: 15 years
Wingspan: 66–79 in
Length: 36–54 in
Weight: 4.0-7.9 lb
Range In Texas: Year-round resident throughout Texas 

The largest of North American herons and one of Texas’s largest birds, the great blue heron is easy to identify by its large yellow-orange bill, short black plumes on its head, and black and chestnut pattern on the shoulders. 

The great blue heron is quite common in Texas near the shores of open water and wetlands. 

During the flight, it will hold its neck in an S-shape with legs trailing behind. And despite the large size and stocky build, the great blue heron is a very fast bird that can reach speeds of around 30 mph. 

They are monogamous only for a single season and will go through some interesting courtship rituals, locking and rubbing their bills on the feathers of the other bird before mating. 

Both parents will take turns in incubating the eggs, and after hatching, the chicks can fly at only 2 months of age. 

They nest in colonies called heronries that can occasionally have more than 500 nests. 

Great blue herons are carnivores that feed on fish, amphibians, reptiles,  invertebrates, small mammals, and even other birds. These birds will slowly stalk their prey in shallow waters, striking with lightning speed, catching them with their long and sharp beaks.

Read More: 14 birds in Pennsylvania that are blue in color


Magnificent Frigatebird

Magnificent Frigatebird
Juvenile magnificent frigatebird

Scientific name: Fregata magnificent
Lifespan: 14-30 years
Wingspan: 85.4-96 in
Length: 35-44.8 in
Weight: 2.4-3.5 lb
Range In Texas: Summer resident around the coasts of Texas

Although commonly found in Florida, magnificent frigatebirds appear regularly along the Gulf Coast of Texas during summer. Look for them glazing over open water along the coast.

Rightfully named due to their striking appearance and behavior, magnificent frigatebirds are easily recognizable even at long distances.

They have a huge size, long pointed wings, and long deeply forked tails. Males have a striking red gular sac which they inflate to attract slightly larger females.

Magnificent frigatebirds are the largest species of frigatebird in Texas.

They mostly feed on fish taken in flight from the ocean’s surface and their favorite food is flying fish, tuna, and squid.

Magnificent frigatebirds will sometimes steal fish from other animals by harassing and forcing them to regurgitate their meal. They will then delicately swoop down, catching this regurgitation before it hits the water. This is known as kleptoparasitism.

Despite their massive wingspan of 7 to 8 feet, these birds can’t land on water as their feathers aren’t waterproof and they would most likely drown.

Interested in reading about grackles species found in Texas? Check this article.


Whooping Crane

whooping crane large bird

Scientific name: Grus americana
Lifespan: 22-24 years in the wild
Wingspan: 79-90 in
Length: 52 in 
Weight: 9.9-18.7 lb
Range In Texas: Winter resident along the coast of Texas

The whooping crane is another big bird that visits Texas in winter. Named for its whooping sound, the whooping crane is the tallest bird in Texas (and North America). 

This bird is going to leave you stunned with its snowy white plumage, crimson cap, bugling call, and graceful courtship dance. 

Whooping cranes are the third-largest birds in Texas with an impressive wingspan of up to 7 ft 7 in, a weight of up to almost 19 pounds, and a height of up to 5 ft 3 in. 

They are also easy to identify by the red skin patches on their forehead, black “mustache” and legs, and black wing tips that are visible in flight. 

It is an endangered crane species that had a population of around 20 birds in the 1940s. In recent years, thanks to strong conservation efforts, the total number of whooping cranes has now exceeded 800 birds.

While sandhill cranes are legal to hunt in Texas, whooping cranes are federally endangered and can’t be hunted. 

These huge white birds live and breed in wetland areas, where they feed on crabs, clams, frogs, and aquatic plants. 

Whooping cranes can be seen in the state from mid-October until late April when they start their migratory journey north to Canada. They might migrate more than 2,400 miles a year. Scientists usually expect more than 500 of them to spend winter in wetlands along the Texas coast per year.

Whooping cranes have many predators, including black bears, wolves, foxes, coyotes, and eagles.

Read More: 15 green birds found in Florida


Brown Pelican

brown pelican

Scientific name: Pelecanus occidentalis
Lifespan: 20-40 years 
Wingspan: 80-90 in
Length: 39.4-60 in 
Weight: 4.4-11 lb
Range In Texas: Year-round resident along the coast of Texas

One of the most iconic sights of Texas shores is seeing a group of these large, distinctive birds, silently gliding up or down the coastline with an occasional beat of their strong wings. 

Brown pelicans are the second largest species of pelicans found in Texas. More common than the American White ones, these elegant birds have oversized beaks (9 inches long), sinuous necks, and big, dark bodies. 

You will easily identify brown pelicans by their size, chestnut-and-white necks, white-colored heads with pale yellow crowns, brown-streaked backs, rumps, and tails, and black legs and feet. 

One of Texas’s most conspicuous and popular birds, brown pelicans can be seen just about everywhere along the state’s coastline. 

However, it wasn’t always that way. In the 20th century, people were hunting brown pelicans heavily for their plumage. So in 1903, USA president Theodore Roosevelt established Pelican Island near Sebastian in Indian River County to protect the species. 

Brown pelicans have an extendable sac of skin that hangs below their long, lower beak. This pouch can hold up to 3 gallons of water, three times more than their belly. 

They use their pouches to catch fish and also to cold down, by evaporating water off the skin surface. 

Brown pelicans will fly 70 feet over the ocean, with necks folded backward and their heads resting on their backs, looking for fish in the water. When they spot their prey, pelicans will dive down and collect as much fish with their pouches as possible, along with lots of water. 

They will squeeze the water out and just swallow the trapped fish. 

Pelicans need to eat up to four pounds of fish (and perhaps some shrimp) per day to survive. They will even dive as deep as 30 feet to catch prey.

Brown pelicans can be found on the Texas coast throughout the year. Nesting begins in February and lasts until July.

Brown pelicans are monogamous for a single season, and after mating, the pair will build their nest either on the ground or in trees. Males will bring the building material and the female will build the nest. Usually, a female will lay from one to four eggs per season.

Read More: 12+ examples of large birds in Ohio


American White Pelican

american pelican

Scientific name: Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
Lifespan: 16-30 years
Wingspan: 95-120 in
Length: 50–70 in
Weight: 11-20 lb
Range In Texas: Winter resident in central and southern Texas

The American white pelican is a large aquatic bird that lives in inland shallow freshwater lakes, wet prairies, and marshes in the summer, and on coastal lagoons in the winter. 

It has white plumage and black flight feathers visible only when the wings are spread. American pelican also has a vivid yellow-orange bill and legs.

White pelicans have the largest beak of any other North American waterbird, measuring 11.3–15.2 inches in males and 10.3–14.2 inches in females.

With a wingspan of up to 120 in, American white pelicans are the largest birds in Texas. They can weigh as much as 30 pounds, although typically they average between 11 and 20 lb. 

Unlike brown pelicans, which are year-round Texas residents, American white pelicans migrate to the state to spend the winter there. 

You will see them arriving in the state from September to late November. Around March, white pelicans will move north to breed in the northern part of the Western USA and Canada.

A small portion of white pelican populations will remain on the Texas coast year-round and breed there.

Their diet mostly consists of fish, but also some crayfish and salamanders.

A group of pelicans is called a “brief” and a “squadron”.

If you enjoyed this article, feel free to check our list of the smallest birds in Texas.


Summary

This concludes our list of big birds in Texas.

There is plenty of large birds in Texas, including cranes, eagles, owls, geese, vultures, and others.

Texas has large areas of different natural habitats that make great homes for a wide range of bird species.

Next time, should you see these birds in person, you should be able to recognize any of them with ease!

And if you enjoyed our article, here are two other popular reads on birds: 15 incredible blue birds of Maryland and 15 largest birds of Michigan

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