Bird Notes from West Houston

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Birdwatching Site - Brazos Bend State Park

Brazos Bend State Park (BBSP) is one of the treasures of the Upper Texas Coast. It is site UTC 117 on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. Opened in 1976, it has become a popular birdwatching destination. The park covers 4,897 acres and has 21 miles of hiking trails. Habitats include lakes, marsh, creek, bottomland forest with live oaks, water oaks, pecans and elms, and tallgrass coastal prairie. With the diversity of habitats, it is not surprising to find several species of birds in any season.

Spring migration (late March through early May) can be a great time at BBSP. Migrants such as warblers, vireos, tanagers, grosbeaks, buntings and flycatchers will use the park as a refueling spot to head further north to their breeding grounds. Birds that nest in the woodlands include White-tailed Kite, Mississippi Kite, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Barred Owl, Pileated Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Acadian Flycatcher, Great Crested Flycatcher, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, Northern Parula, Prothonotary Warbler, Summer Tanager and Painted Bunting. Waterbirds that nest in the park include Pied-billed Grebe, Least Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Green Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Black-crowned Night-heron, Yellow-crowned Night-heron, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Black-bellied Whistling-duck, Wood Duck, Purple Gallinule, Common Moorhen and Black-necked Stilt. Winter is a great time to visit BBSP because of the abundance of ducks that can be seen on the lakes and in the marshes. Winter visitors also include American White Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants, American Bitterns and King Rails. Look for native sparrows in the grasslands and American Goldfinch, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Northern Flicker and Brown Thrasher in the woodlands in the winter season.

Wildlife other than birds can be easily observed. American Alligators will lie quietly in the water. Be cautious of them because they can move with surprising speed if they are provoked or if a female feels you are too close to her young or nest. Keep your distance and do not fed the alligators! Other wildlife to be expected, although not always easily seen, are turtles, bullfrogs, snakes, coyotes, gray fox, bobcat and nutria.

An observation tower is at the northeastern corner of 40 Acre Lake where you can scan the lake for different ducks or to observe rookeries. For visitors with disabilities, the Creekfield Lake Nature Trail is a paved, interpretive trail that circles a wetland. Observation platforms and benches are provided on the trail.

There are a variety of programs presented by the park throughout the year. There are bird walks and classes for both beginner and advanced birders. For the dates of the classes, visit the volunteer website at

To get to BBSP, go to SH 288 and go south. Exit FM 1462 and go west (right.) Take FM 1462 about 14 miles to FM 762. Turn north (right) and follow the signs to the park entrance. There is an entry fee of $3/person for those 13 and older. Children 12 and younger are free. Seniors 65 to 71 are admitted for $2 and seniors 72+ enter the park for free. Park hours are Sunday through Thursday, 8 a.m. until 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. Maps are available at the entry booth.

The physical address of the park is:

Brazos Bend State Park
21901 FM 762
Needville, TX 77461
(979) 553-5101


Post a Comment

<< Home