This small park in the Houston metro area attracts 4-5 hummingbird species each winter, is a reliable spot for Cerulean and Golden-winged Warblers in spring, and is home to Eastern Screech-Owls in summer.
By Fred Collins | Published: 12/26/2008
Butterfly, hummingbird, bog, and wetland gardens attract lots of birds to this city park, home of a turn-of-the-century pecan grove and family estate. I find the place most interesting beginning in mid- to late January, when hummingbirds become fixated upon “their” feeders. Once I had a day list that included five hummingbirds, six doves, and one parrot species; it was more like a park in Central America than in Texas.
Winter flocks can include Wilson’s Warbler and Summer Tanager. The tanagers seem to rely on honeybees that infest the screech-owl boxes.
The pecans hold the key to an incredible spring migrant display. Pecans are the last tree to leaf out each spring and produce a crop of caterpillars as if on cue for the migrating warblers. The display during fallout conditions can be staggering. One memorable day, more than 500 warblers were in the park at one moment! Peak days produce 14-18 species. Thrushes and other ground-dwelling species are less common, but frequently I can compare two or three species within a few feet of one another. — Fred Collins
At a Glance
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Mature urban forest with a high diversity of native and exotic tree species.
Flat. Central path and most of the best birding areas wheelchair-accessible. No internal roads.
Winter: 4-5 species of hummingbirds annually, and over the years 8 species have wintered in the park. In order of abundance: Rufous, Black-chinned, Broad-tailed, Ruby-throated, Allen’s, Calliope, Buff-bellied, and Anna’s. Also House Wren, kinglets, Cedar Waxwing, Pine Warbler. Spring: 20 species of warblers, especially Tennessee, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Yellow, and Bay-breasted, and a dozen other species of Neotropical migrants. In late April and early May, this is one of the most reliable spots for Cerulean and Golden-winged Warblers on the upper Texas coast. Summer: nesting Eastern Screech-Owl, Purple Martin, typical urban birds. Fall: Mississippi Kite, Broad-winged Hawk, and other migrating raptors.
When to go
December to March or early April for hummingbirds. March to the first week of May for spring migration. Summer for screech-owls.
Nature Discovery Center open Tuesday-Sunday, 12-5:30. Restrooms. Every Tuesday in spring and fall “Lunch with the Birds” bird walks from 12-1. Discovery rooms sometimes have exhibits about birds. Checklist.
City park. Free. Open dawn-9 p.m. year-round. Within walking distance of Metro bus service. Free parking lots on north and south ends of park.
Take binoculars but don’t bother to bring a scope to this small park.