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What are the rainbow colored birds in Texas?

What are the rainbow colored birds in Texas?

Texas is home to a diverse array of bird species, including some brightly colored birds that showcase the colors of the rainbow. While no single bird species displays the full rainbow spectrum, several species exhibit stunning red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet plumage. These rainbow-hued birds can be found across different regions and habitats in Texas throughout the year.

Red Birds

Some of the most vibrant red colored birds found in Texas include:

  • Northern Cardinal – One of the most recognizable backyard birds in Texas, the male Northern Cardinal is known for its bright red plumage accented by a black face mask and stout red bill.
  • Summer Tanager – The male Summer Tanager has a distinctive bright red body contrasted with darker wings and tail.
  • Vermilion Flycatcher – A small songbird marked by brilliant red underparts and black upperparts.
  • Painted Bunting – The male Painted Bunting displays a stunning red underside with green upperparts.

These red birds bring a pop of color and vitality to backyards, parks, and natural areas across Texas. The male Northern Cardinal and Summer Tanager are entirely red, while the Vermilion Flycatcher and Painted Bunting mix their red hues with contrasting blacks and greens.

Orange Birds

Vibrant orange plumage can also be found on select bird species in Texas:

  • Altamira Oriole – A striking mostly orange oriole with black wings and tail.
  • Scott’s Oriole – Males display bright yellow and orange plumage with black wings and tail.
  • Orchard Oriole – The male Orchard Oriole has a dark back with a vivid reddish-orange underside.

These colorful orioles tend to frequent treetops in Rio Grande Valley woodlands and orchards. The orange in their plumage stands out brightly among the green leaves.

Yellow Birds

Abundant yellow birds can be readily found across Texas, including:

  • Yellow Warbler – A bright yellow songbird with orange streaks on the breast and an olive-green back.
  • Prothonotary Warbler – Nicknamed the “golden swamp warbler” for its brilliant golden-yellow head and body.
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – Easily identified by its yellow patches on the crown, throat, breast, and rump.
  • Wilson’s Warbler – Males sport a striking yellow cap on their heads.
  • American Goldfinch – Turns a vivid yellow in spring though the wings remain black year-round.

Warblers and finches make up many of the most vibrant yellow-hued birds in Texas. They display their sunny plumage as they flit through trees and shrubs.

Green Birds

Green birds found in Texas include:

  • Green Jay – A brightly colored jay with green upperparts, yellow underparts, and a blue forehead.
  • Lesser Goldfinch – Males have bright yellow bellies and green backs.
  • Painted Bunting – Males have blue heads, green backs, red underparts.

While no Texas birds are solely green, species like Green Jays and Painted Buntings mix stunning greens with other vivid hues. The green plumage allows these birds to blend into foliage.

Blue Birds

Some birds exhibit beautiful blue shades in their plumage:

  • Blue Jay – A common backyard bird with a crest, blue and white markings, and a black necklace.
  • Blue Grosbeak – A large songbird with mostly blue plumage and reddish-orange accents.
  • Indigo Bunting – A small seed-eating bird that turns vivid blue in spring breeding plumage.
  • Mountain Bluebird – Males boast sky-blue feathers with a pale chest.

Jays and buntings showcase some of the most vibrant blues among Texas birds. They often contrast the blue with orange or white.

Indigo and Violet Birds

Indigo and violet are at the end of the visible color spectrum. No Texas birds display solely these hues, but some feature iridescent feathers:

  • Mallard – Males have an iridescent violet-blue patch on their wings.
  • Lesser Scaup – Males exhibit an iridescent purple head.
  • Ruddy Duck – Males have a violet-blue bill during breeding season.

mallards, scaups, and ruddy ducks reveal indigo and violet only upon turning in the light, through iridescent structural colors in their feathers. The sheen stands out amidst their more muted brown and grey plumage.

Where to See Rainbow Birds in Texas

Some top spots for viewing a diversity of colorful birds in Texas include:

  • Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge – See Green Jays, Painted Buntings, and Altamira Orioles in the Rio Grande Valley.
  • High Island – A migratory hotspot where brightly colored warblers and orioles pass through.
  • Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge – Home to Reddish Egrets, Roseate Spoonbills, Purple Gallinules.
  • South Llano River State Park – Spot Vermilion Flycatchers, Yellow-breasted Chats, and Black-crested Titmice.
  • Davis Mountains – A high elevation oasis for colorful species like Scott’s Orioles, Hepatic Tanagers, and Cassin’s Finches.

When to See Rainbow Birds

The best time to spot vibrant rainbow hued birds in Texas depends on the species and region:

  • Spring migration (March to May) brings Yellow Warblers, Indigo Buntings, Scarlet Tanagers, and other brightly colored neotropical migrants.
  • Summer breeding season is when Northern Cardinals, Painted Buntings, and other permanent residents sport their most spectacular plumage.
  • Fall migration (August to November) offers another chance to see Prothonotary Warblers, American Goldfinches, and other migrants passing through.
  • Year round residents like Green Jays, Vermilion Flycatchers, and Altamira Orioles can be observed across multiple seasons.

So the seasons offer different opportunities to see Texas’s colorful rainbow birds, whether migrants or residents.


While no single bird displays the full rainbow spectrum, Texas is home to a marvelous diversity of birds that showcase vibrant red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet plumage. These rainbow-hued species span several bird families, including cardinals, orioles, warblers, tanagers, buntings, and ducks. The best places to observe them range from the Rio Grande Valley, to High Island, to the Davis Mountains. With a mix of migrants and residents, rainbow birds can potentially be spotted across all seasons, making Texas a premier birding destination. So keep an eye out for these colorful species as you explore parks, refuges, rivers, and backyards across the state.