The Davis Mountains are located in a part of Texas known as the Trans-Pecos region of west Texas. They are located on the northern edge of the Chihuahuan Desert. Over 600 square miles of the Davis Mountains is above 5,000 ft. Despite the dry conditions the area includes extensive montane woodlands and abundant wildlife.
The Davis Mountains Preserve, owned by The Nature Conservance, contains most of the pine-oak forests. Nesting species in the Preserve include Flammulated Owl, Mexican Whip-poor-will, Dusky Flycatcher, and Grace’s Warbler. Over 100 species nest at elevations above 5,500 in the Davis Mountains.
The McDonald Observatory is located near the Davis Mountains State Park. Evening Star Parties are a popular attraction for those visiting the region.
Davis Mountains State Park
This trip was more of a family vacation with most of the birding time spent in the park itself and near the bird feeding stations. The state park itself is about 3 miles from the town of Fort Davis and the historic fort itself.
The park provides a range of hospitality options. The historic lodge provides large, clean rooms and a local restaurant. Camping sites are available for trailers, tent camping and more remote primitive camping.
The park maintains two bird feeder areas that are the best I have ever seen. The feeding stations make it easy for even novice birders to see and enjoy some colorful western species. Both provide indoor viewing through large windows as well as outside photo blind arrangements for photographers. For birders the park is best known as a place to see the spectacular Harlequin Quail, which unfortunately I missed on this trip. A pair of Elf Owls were nesting in the park, a life bird for me.
Most of the following species were quite common at the feeder stations in early May.
Wildlife is plentiful in the park and along a nearby nature observation loop.
Northern Cardinal and Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Photographs and video © Sam Crowe