Greg Miller Big Year Series

TEXAS Big Bend: Colima Warbler and Montezuma Quail

Colima Warbler
Oreothlypis crissalis
Adult Basic Plumage
Boot Canyon
Big Bend National Park
Brewster County, TX
29 May, 2019


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2023 :: April 21 - April 29



From: $3,950 (See details)
Cost is per person, double occupancy from El Paso, TX (ELP)


3 - 7 Participants


2023: 7 spaces available


This tour is available as a private trip for any size group. The tour cost will vary with the number of people and any custom requests.

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Highlights of TEXAS Big Bend: Colima Warbler and Montezuma Quail

  • The only place to see Colima Warbler in the United States
  • Elusive Montezuma Quail
  • Lucifer Hummingbird, Scaled Quail, Varied Bunting, Elf Owl, Western Screech Owl, Band-tailed Pigeon, Acorn Woodpecker, Blue-throated Mountain Gem, Mexican Jay, Black-chinned Sparrow, Gray & Common Black Hawks, Montezuma Quail, and many more.
  • Lee has spent over 30 years exploring Big Bend National Park covering every trail and road in the park

Description of TEXAS Big Bend: Colima Warbler and Montezuma Quail

Big Bend is one of North America’s most unique birding destinations with more bird species recorded than any other national park. We will trek into the desert mountains for Colima Warbler, watch Lucifer Hummingbirds buzz in the Chihuahuan Desert and pursue the elusive Montezuma Quail in the Davis Mountains. With luck, we might spot a Mexican Black Bear or if we are super lucky, a Mountain Lion. Big Bend is a bucket list destination for birders, phototraphers, and naturalists alike.

The drive from El Paso to Big Bend is so scenic that you will be taken aback by the landforms of west Texas. With some stops along the way for some special birds, our route will take us through Marfa and Terlingua. We will settle in Big Bend for 3 days of birding and then a full day in the Davis Mountains. This tour will be a special trip creating lifelong memories!


Length of Tour


Brief Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrive in El Paso (Night in El Paso)

Day 2 – Drive from El Paso, bird near Marfa to Big Bend National park (Night in Big Bend)

Day 3 through 6 – Birding in Big Bend National Park and nearby private property (Night in Big Bend/Fort Davis)

Day 7 – Birding around Fort Davis (Night in El Paso)

Day 8 – Return Home from El Paso

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrive in El Paso

We will meet this evening for dinner and a meet and greet. We will discuss the coming week, logistics, desert awareness, and expectations.

Day 2 – Drive from El Paso to Big Bend National Park

Our drive from El Paso to Marfa will take us along US 90, but before we get to Marfa we will look at Van Horn for Gambel’s Quail and other birds.

A quick detour near Marfa will hopefully reward us with Burrowing Owl, Scaled Quail, Cassin’s Sparrows, Swainson’s Hawk, and more. We will continue to Big Bend National Park where we will head out that evening for an optional owling and night birds trip!

Day 3 through 7 – Big Bend National Park


Our first morning will find us birding along the Rio Grande River as we search for migrants and enjoy a nesting pair of Common Black Hawks and hopefully, Gray Hawks. Lucy’s Warblers have been nesting in this location recently and it is the easternmost breeding locale for this southwestern warbler. Vermilion Flycatchers, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Painted Bunting, Yellow-breasted Chat, Mexican Mallards, Greater Roadrunner, Carolina Wren, and Verdin will keep us entertained. With any luck, we might also see Zone-tailed Hawk potentially giving us the west Texas hawk trifecta at one location! This location has also produced quite a few rarities over the years. We will stop to check out a desert oasis for any migrants.

After lunch, we will head to the western side of the park along the Rio Grande River for Great-horned Owls, a LOT of Vermilion Flycatchers, Lesser Goldfinch, another try for Gray Hawk, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, maybe Common Ground-Dove (they have become quite rare lately), and additional migrants. We will make a stop at Santa Elena Canyon where we will listen for the descending call of the Canyon Wren echoing off the 1700′ cliffs!


We will have a morning hike in the Chisos Basin look for Black-chinned Sparrow, Black-capped Vireo (if we are lucky), Crissal Thrasher, Canyon Towhee, Scott’s Orioles, Cactus Wren, Black-crested Titmouse, Varied Bunting, Mexican Jays, Black-headed Grosbeaks, and Acorn Woodpeckers.

We will have the afternoon to mop up any species missed before preparing for our big hike the following day! Sam Nail Ranch and Dugout Wells are also migrant hotspots we can check out!


With an early start we will begin the hike up for Colima Warbler, Blue-throated Mountain Gem, Band-tailed Pigeon, Cordilleran Flycatcher, hopefully Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Mexican Whip-poor-will, Painted Redstart, White-throated Swifts, Townsend’s Warbler, and more. In the past few years, I have turned up Greater Pewee, Yellow-eyed Vireo, and Slate-throated Redstart! If we are really lucky, we might encounter a Mexican Black Bear or a Mountain Lion!


This morning will find us heading out to private property near the park to see Lucifer Hummingbird, Scaled Quail, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Black-throated Sparrow, Pyrrhuloxia, and so much more. Last year, I had all four species of bunting (Indigo, Painted, Varied, and Lazuli with both males and females)!

We will then head for an afternoon of birding the Davis Mountains where we will begin head to private property on the south side of the mountains for Bushtit, Acorn Woodpecker, possible Montezuma Quail,

Day 7 – Davis Mountains and Return to El Paso

We will spend the morning birding in Davis Mountains State Park, Lawrence E. Woods Picnic Area, and roads in the area looking for the elusive Montezuma Quail, Zone-tailed Hawks, Rufous-crowned Sparrows, Blue Grosbeak, Western Wood-Pewee, Gray Flycatcher, Plumbeous Vireo, Phainopepla, Rock Wren, Cassin’s Kingbirds, Hepatic Tanager, and Western Tanager.

Day 8 – Depart El Paso for Home


Cost is $3,950 per person, based upon double occupancy, from El Paso, TX (Airport code ELP).
This trip ends in El Paso, TX (Airport code ELP).

Single Supplement

If a single room is preferred, or we are unable to find a suitable roommate for you, a single supplement fee of $450 will be assessed.

Deposit Requirements

A $500 deposit per person is required to hold each space on this tour. Deposit may be made online by clicking the "Book Your Trip Now" button and using any credit card. If you prefer, you may call us at 888-875-9453 to pay by phone. You may also mail us a check, however, remember that all space is held on a first come-first served basis as deposits are received.

Minimum Number

If fewer than the minimum number of required participants are registered, we may still be able to run the trip by adding a small-group supplement fee, per person, determined by the number of participants registered.

How to Book

In order to hold your space, click the "Book Your Trip Now" button above and complete the deposit process, including payment of the deposit through our Paypal portal using ANY CREDIT CARD. Upon completion of deposit, please visit our secure, online CLIENT INFORMATION FORM to complete your registration.

Final Payment

For all land-based tours: full payment by check is due 120 days prior to the departure date.

For all boat-based adventure cruises of 7-days or longer: full payment by check is required 180 days prior to departure.

NOTE: If you prefer to use credit card for final payment, a 3% fee may be added to cover the credit card merchant fees we incur.

We will be staying at the Chisos Mountains Lodge which is the only lodging in the entire park. It is centrally located and at 5,000’ in elevation.

Activity Level Rating: (Note: 1 is easy and 5 is difficult)

1700’ elevation gain in the first 3 miles. Beginning at 5200’ Approximately 5 miles one way. 5am to 5pm all day bird and hike.
Some parts of the park have loose sand, loose rocks and uneven footing and one other trail has a bit of elevation gain in the Chisos Basin of around 700′.

Non-smoking Tour

This trip is for non-smokers only. Smoking is not permitted at any time during our tour.

Climate / Weather

Temperatures and weather conditions may vary widely during the trip. Expect warm to hot and very dry climate. The focus of the tour will be birds and wildlife. Expect to take full advantage of the longer daylight hours including one relatively long day in order to hike up to Boot Canyon to see the Colima Warbler. We will be in a very dry climate. It can be quite cool even in late April early morning so come prepared for possibly cool mornings and hot days. Come prepared for all kinds of weather!

Purchasing Flights

Do not purchase your flights until the trip has been confirmed to go.

Detailed Trip Information

Upon notification that final payment is due (120 days prior to departure for land based tours / 180 days for boat based tours), you will receive a trip package of detailed information for your tour.

Any additional information about the trip, including lodgings, contacts, participants, meeting locations, etc., will sent about 2 weeks prior to the trip departure, or after final payment is received for late registrants.

Travel Insurance

As with all tours, we highly recommend purchasing Travel Insurance to cover your investment. Please see our section on Travel Insurance.

Passport & Visa

US Citizens may require a visa to enter certain foreign countries. See above for any required visa information.

Participants arriving to the USA from a foreign country may need to get a travel visa to enter the United States. Be sure to check the requirements for your country of origin.

Itinerary Changes

The trip itinerary is developed many months ahead of time. Occasionally, despite our best planning, changes may occur during the trip, or we may be forced to alter our plans. Changes may occur because of weather, road conditions, safety concerns or other circumstances. In these situations, it is the leader(s) responsibility to carefully consider and implement appropriate alternatives. Any additional costs incurred because of changes will be the responsibility of each individual participant. Refunds will not be issued as a result of itinerary changes.

Location Map