Sabal Minor Dwarf Palmetto Photographed By Sara Turbyfill At Huntsville State Park.

Huntsville State Park: Barn Swallows and Pileated Woodpeckers Flourish in This Forest

Huntsville State Park Birds

Huntsville State Park is located an hour north of downtown Houston, TX. The park encompasses more than 2,000 acres and is mostly covered in a dense forest of pine trees. Visitors can enjoy an array of activities, including camping, fishing, kayaking, swimming, and wildlife photography.

In addition, Huntsville State Park is an excellent place for birdwatching. Over 250 species of birds have been documented at the park. Seven types of woodpeckers live at this state park, including the pileated woodpecker and red-headed woodpecker. Other species of birds that frequent the area include anhinga, barn swallows, chimney swifts, and indigo buntings.

Barn Swallows: Both Parents Build Nests from Mud

The barn swallow is one of the most fascinating species of birds present in the park. These birds are the most widespread species of swallow in the world, with a population of nearly 200 million. Barn swallows have dark blue feathers that cover their back, wings and tail, while their underparts range from russet to tan.

Barn Swallow Photographed By Sara Turbyfill At Huntsville State Park In Texas.
Barn swallow sitting on roof in Huntsville, Texas.

During June and July, barn swallows nest in the park. Both male and female parents work together to gather mud and grass to build the nest. The most frequent places barn swallows build nests today are on manmade structures, including open buildings and bridges. For instance, the barn swallows at Huntsville State Park commonly nest under the awning of the group recreation building.

Barn Swallow Chicks Photographed By Sara Turbyfill In Walker County, TX.
Barn swallow nest under awning of group recreation building at Huntsville State Park.

Pileated Woodpeckers: Cousin to the Extinct Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

In addition to barn swallows, several species of woodpeckers are found in the park, including the pileated woodpecker. The pileated woodpecker is the largest species of woodpecker found in the United States, with adults reaching a length of up to 19 inches.

Pileated woodpeckers are covered in mostly black and white feathers. They are easily distinguished by their long beak and red triangular crest that forms on the top of their head. However, the pileated woodpecker is occasionally confused for the ivory-billed woodpecker, which was officially declared extinct in 2021.

Pileated Woodpecker Photographed By Sara Turbyfill At Huntsville State Park In Texas.
Pileated woodpecker pecking on pine tree in Huntsville, TX.

Red-Headed Woodpeckers: A Bird with a Unique Tongue

The red-headed woodpecker is another species of woodpecker that is commonly spotted at Huntsville State Park. As their name suggests, red-headed woodpeckers have a bright red colored head. Their bodies are covered in black and white feathers, which create a distinct pattern.

Red-Headed Woodpecker Photographed By Sara Turbyfill At Huntsville State Park In Texas.
Red-headed woodpecker pecking on tree in Walker County, TX.

Like all woodpeckers, the red-headed woodpecker has a unique tongue which helps protect its brain when pecking on trees. When a woodpecker pecks on a tree, its tongue is long enough to wrap around its brain in order to protect it. The length of a woodpecker’s tongue varies depending on species. However, a woodpecker’s tongue can be as long as one third of the bird’s body length.

Visit Huntsville State Park

In summary, Huntsville State Park is an excellent place for birdwatching. Visitors have the chance to watch barn swallows nesting or pileated woodpeckers flying through the forest. Even if you aren’t an a bird nerd yourself, there are activities available for everyone, including camping, fishing, kayaking, and more.

The entrance fee to the park is $7 for everyone above the age of thirteen. Also, you have the option to purchase a Texas State Park Pass for $70, which gives an individual free entry to any of the 89 state parks in Texas for one year. For additional information, click the resources provided below.

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