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Big Bend is a bucket-list destination for most birders in the US and abroad, and we are thrilled to finally host a Reader Rendezvous in this world-famous location.

There is a place in Far West Texas where night skies are as dark as coal and rivers carve temple-like canyons in ancient limestone. Here, at the end of the road, hundreds of bird species take refuge in a solitary mountain range surrounded by weather-beaten desert. Tenacious cactus bloom in the sublime southwestern sun, and the diversity of bird species is the best in the country. This magical place is Big Bend National Park.

Scott’s oriole photo by A. Reago & C. McClarren / Wikimedia.

Big Bend National Park is home to more bird, bat, cacti, ant, and scorpion species than any other national park, and has been referred to by many birders and naturalists as the best birding location in the United States. It is world-renowned for its spectacular birds, and nature lovers travel from all over the planet to experience the birds and wildlife at Big Bend National Park.

We have scheduled this tour during what is traditionally the very best week of the year for birds and birding! We are likely to see an amazing number of species, including an array of southwestern specialties, spring arrivals, and area residents. Here’s a small sample of the birds we’re likely to see:

  • Colima warbler (this is the only place to see this bird in the United States)
  • Painted bunting
  • Scott’s oriole
  • Painted redstart
  • Varied bunting
  • Hepatic tanager
  • Yellow-breasted chat
  • Common black hawk
  • Scaled quail
  • Golden-fronted woodpecker
  • Mexican jay
  • Inca dove
  • Ladder-backed woodpecker
  • Mexican whip-poor-will
  • Rufous-crowned sparrow
  • Black-throated sparrow
  • Verdin
  • Greater roadrunner
  • Curved-billed thrasher
  • Black-tailed gnatcatcher
  • Canyon towhee
  • Vermilion flycatcher
  • Cactus wren
  • Crissal thrasher
  • Pyrrhuloxia

Lee Hoy

It would be impossible to roam all 1,262 square miles of the national park in only one week, but we will hit the park’s best birding hotspots and highlights during our time at Big Bend. Lee Hoy is the official birding guide at Big Bend National Park, and he is also a long-time friend of Bird Watcher’s Digest. Lee is a full-time, year-round tour guide, and is known as “Mr. Big Bend” among birders. Along with our BWD staffers, we are incredibly fortunate to have Lee as our private guide throughout our tour because nobody knows the birds or habitat at Big Bend better than Lee!

Our General Itinerary

April 26 – Travel day from El Paso [Drive the River Road from Presidio to Study Butte for the scenic route – go to Alpine and down for quicker route]; meet at Big Bend National Park lodge; evening presentation by Lee Hoy

Hepatic Tanager (male), E.R. Wilson / Wikimedia.

April 27 – Hike the Window Pour-Off Trail and Chisos Basin Area in a.m.; Dugout Wells in p.m. with evening of owling and listening for Mexican whip-poor-will

April 28 – Rio Grande Village/Daniel’s Ranch/Panther Junction in a.m.; hike Blue Creek Trail in p.m.

April 29 –  Cottonwood Campground/Santa Elena Canyon in a.m.; Sam Nail Ranch/migrant hotspot follow-up in p.m.

April 30 – Colima warbler hike: All- day hike to Boot Canyon/Boot Springs

May 1  – Christmas Mountains Oasis in a.m.; travel to Fort Davis in p.m. to Davis Mountains State Park

May 2 – Observatory and Lawrence E. Woods Picnic Area in a.m.; private property in Davis Mountains in p.m.

May 3 – Depart for El Paso and home

Big Bend is a bucket-list destination for most birders in the US and abroad, and we are thrilled to finally host a Reader Rendezvous tour in this world-famous location. We hope you’ll join our BWD staff, Lee Hoy, and other Rendezvous friends for this once-in-a-lifetime experience as we “Bird Bodacious Big Bend” together in April 2022!

Note: This tour includes hiking several miles on well-established dirt trails with significant elevation change, requiring reasonable physical fitness and stamina. Some hikes on this tour will be STRENUOUS. This trip is not for couch potatoes!


Learn More about Big Bend in our podcast

Listen to Lee Hoy describe Big Bend National Park and the birding opportunities there in an interview with Wendy Clark in this BirdSense podcast, titled “Birding Big Bend, Texas.”