Archive for May 8th, 2015

Texas’ 12 Most Beautiful Birds

Friday, May 8th, 2015
Scissor-tailed flycatcher; photo by Robert Bunch

Scissor-tailed flycatcher; photo by Robert Bunch

This is Passport to Texas

No parent wants to openly admit they have a favorite child, just as ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford, hesitated to reveal his picks for Texas’ 12 most beautiful birds in an article for Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine’s May issue. He called it a 639 way tie.

07—The 639 is how many birds are documented in Texas; and to me, they all have some beauty in one form or another.

Cliff said his picks were not the “obvious choices.”

22— I kept out—purposefully—birds that most people would agree are super gorgeous and super obvious; things like: Northern Cardinal, Cedar Waxwing, Painted Bunting… You can’t be a ‘shoe in’. And I think some of these birds are considers a shoe in, but [sigh] too much bling, too much gaudiness, like in a painted bunting—to me—kept it off the list.

In fact, the color of a bird’s plumage had less to do with it making the list of beautiful birds than did its behavior.

20— And I pointed that out in the article. Some birds maybe didn’t have the jazziest colors, but they excelled in other ways. Like, the Swallow-tailed Kite is a very simple black and white
bird, but the Swallow-tailed Kite makes up for it with its graceful flight—very effortlessly soaring against a blue sky—is just, to me, breathtaking and beautiful.

Which birds made Cliff Shackelford’s list for most beautiful? Find out in the May issue of TPW magazine. What’s on your list of beautiful Texas birds? Tell us at

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.