Ducks in winter, migrating shorebirds and passerines in spring and fall, and waterbirds in summer, all in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
By Gail Morris | Published: 6/20/2008
Hundreds of ducks in winter, a hotspot for migrating shorebirds and passerines in spring and fall, a reliable summer site for waterbirds, and the chance of a rarity all year – these are the reasons I never get bored birding at Village Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, known to local birders as the Village Creek Drying Beds.
Water levels in the 46 beds of water fluctuate constantly, bringing in a variety of birds. When you enter the gate, drive slowly through the wooded areas that line the road and look for songbirds, blackbirds, and nesting Barred Owls. Ducks occur on the first large pond, and Common Yellowthroats often hang out in the foliage near the corner of the pond. Up the slight incline is a parking area where you can set up a scope to scan the beds. From here, I start driving the dirt roads around the levees.
Shorebirds, gulls, and terns are the big attractions in spring and fall. The most common migrants in both seasons are American Avocet, sandpipers, yellowlegs, Wilson’s Phalarope, Franklin’s Gull, and Black Tern. The possibilities seem endless at this urban refuge. – Gail Morris
Gail Morris is past president of the Fort Worth Audubon Society. She also wrote about Cement Creek Reservoir, Fort Worth, Texas, Hotspot Near You No. 75, and Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, Sherman, Texas, No. 86.
At a Glance
Click on the coordinates below to view location:
Grassland, wetland, woodlands, and ponds.
Short paved road at entrance, then dirt roads surrounding rainwater-filled beds.
Daily lists of 60-100 species possible depending on the season. Year-round: Egrets, herons, American Bittern, Wood Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, Loggerhead Shrike, Eastern Meadowlark. Spring: Passerines, Sora, shorebirds, gulls, terns. Summer: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, King Rail, Mississippi Kite, Painted Bunting. Fall: Shorebirds, rails, Yellow-headed Blackbird. Winter: Ducks, Swamp Sparrow, Marsh Wren, Rusty and Brewer’s Blackbirds. Raptors in spring, summer, and fall. Rarities include one of two Texas records of Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (May 1991), Long-tailed Duck and Surf Scoter (winter 2007), Black-headed Gull, Black Skimmer, Harris’s Sparrow.
When to go
Year-round for waterfowl and waders. March and April and mid-July through September for migrating shorebirds.
Just the birds! Restrooms about a mile east at River Legacy Park or at River Legacy Living Science Center.
Municipal wastewater-treatment plant. No fees. Gate usually opened by 8 a.m. If locked, call the telephone number on the gate sign to request an unlock. Plant closes at 5:30 p.m. City of Fort Worth personnel usually drive the beds and shoo birders out before locking up.
Drive on levees only, and do not go beyond any barricades. If it’s rained, the barricades will save you from getting stuck in the muck. Watch for resident bobcats that roam the levees.