Birding at Medina River in San Antonio

Mixing new birding locations in with your regular spots keeps your adventures interesting. Today was that day for me. Medina River has been on my radar for a while as a place to visit.

View of the Medina river from the Medina rio trail

Mixing new birding locations in with your regular spots keeps your adventures interesting. Today was that day for me.

I used the eBird app to find some nearby birding hotspots to consider. Medina River has been on my radar for a while as a place to visit. Upon arriving, I spent about ten minutes checking out the area around the parking lot. Just within these few minutes I heard and saw 12 species. Off to a great start, I checked the trail map and noticed two women getting out of their car in standard birdwatching garb. I introduced myself, asked to tag along with them, and they gladly agreed. There is power in numbers. With additional eyes surveying the surroundings we are likely to see more birds.

These birders have been to the Medina River before so they knew more than I did about where to go. At the trailhead, we decided to take the Rio Medina trail [view trail map]. This path follows the river for half of the trail which made it ideal to spot birds.

Surrounded by sounds

From the trees you could hear the calls and songs of birds all around. The sound of the Bewick’s Wren stood out from the others and we spotted two of them bouncing around in a bush. Black-crested Titmice whistled from above while we looked for other lurkers.

We continued down the path and came to this beautiful view of the river and trees.

View of the Medina river from the Medina rio trail
View of the Medina Rive

A crown of ruby

The Ruby-crowned Kinglet made an appearance for us several times during our visit. As mentioned in a previous post, the Kinglet has been a bird I’ve been paying extra attention to lately. I witnessed something with the Kinglet that I’ve never seen before. As is its namesake, this Ruby-crowned Kinglet graced us with a few glimpses of its beautiful red crown.

In the second photo below, though it’s barely visible, there is a small red spot on its head where the ruby feathers appeared. I was ecstatic to finally see this! Next time I hope it chills out for a moment to capture a better photo.

Backside of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet
ruby crowned kinglet showing ruby feathers
If you zoom this photo, you can see the small spot of read on its head. It was much more pronounced before the photo was taken, of course.

A warbler takes a dip

We made several stops at viewpoints along Medina River to see if there were any birds (specifically Kingfishers) present. While at one of the viewpoints, there was commotion in a nearby tree. A Yellow-rumped Warbler (affectionately referred to as a ‘butter butt’) flew down to the river’s edge. It proceeded to bathe and take a few drinks from the stream.

Yellow rumped warbler on the river’s edge
A Myrtle Yellow-rumped Warbler lands at the water’s edge.
Yellow rumped warbler taking a bath in the river
The warbler takes a quick bath.

An unexpected visitor

Look for Red-winged Blackbirds in fresh and saltwater marshes, along watercourses, water hazards on golf courses, and wet roadsides, as well as drier meadows and old fields. In winter, you can find them at crop fields, feedlots, and pastures.

While not too out of the ordinary, the two companions I was birding with seemed to be skeptical that the birds I spotted in the trees above were Red-winged Blackbirds. I usually see these birds at parks next to ponds or in marshy areas, so I was ready to concede my identification as a Great-tailed Grackle. But, we looked closer, with binoculars and the Merlin app and confirmed they were indeed Red-winged Blackbirds..

Call of the American Robin

While I didn’t capture a clear recording of the Robin, I rarely hear them vocalize. We heard it making its call amongst the other birds, but over the ambient noise it’s hard to discern in the recording I took.

Warbler Woods and many recommendations

Throughout my time with my new friends I asked about specific birds I wanted to see. Birds such as the Burrowing Owl, Greater Roadrunner, and Sandhill Cranes.

They recommended a few of places around San Antonio to check out:

What I saw today

White-winged Dove1
Mourning Dove1
Black Vulture10
Red-shouldered Hawk1
Crested Caracara3
Eastern Phoebe4
White-eyed Vireo7
Blue Jay1
American Crow2
Carolina Chickadee1
Black-crested Titmouse3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet3
House Wren2
Carolina Wren14
Bewick’s Wren2
European Starling1
American Robin1
House Finch1
Red-winged Blackbird2
Great-tailed Grackle21
Orange-crowned Warbler3
Yellow-rumped Warbler6
Northern Cardinal16
23 Species105 total birds

1 thought on “Birding at Medina River in San Antonio”

  1. Jeff, it was great meeting you at Medina River Natural Area, and an excellent birding experience. I look forward to meeting you on another birding/nature trail someday!


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