This nature preserve north of Houston is a top spot for Brown-headed Nuthatch and Greater Roadrunner, songbirds and woodpeckers in summer, and hawks and hummingbirds in fall.
By Fred Collins | Published: 8/21/2009
Elmer Kleb’s family farmed this land beginning in the 1870s, and he was born on it in 1907. He quit farming in 1947 and started planting trees. When he died in 1999, he had transformed his prairie into a pine-oak forest.
When I walk from the parking lot to the farm clearing, nature center, and trail system, I slow down to enjoy the calls of Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Summer Tanager, and Northern Cardinal, much as Elmer did.
The park’s southern tract has been open to the public since September 2006, and it has already become a regular stop for Houston-area birders. It is one of the few places in Harris County where the Brown-headed Nuthatch is resident, and it’s the only publicly accessible park to have resident Greater Roadrunner.
Each year in September, the nature center hosts a hummingbird festival. We have had as many as 250 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds crowding the feeders in the gardens. And in fall, the porch of the nature center is a good spot to watch kettles of migrating Broad-winged Hawks and other raptors. — Fred Collins
At a Glance
Click on the coordinates below to view location:
Pine forest with oaks and other hardwoods. Cultivated red cedar groves.
Flat. Nature center and farm trails wheelchair-accessible, but most paths in the park are not wheelchair-accessible. No internal roads.
Almost 200 species. Day lists often total 40 species or more. Fall: Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Broad-winged Hawk. Winter: Blue-headed Vireo, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Brown Creeper, Pine Warbler, six woodpecker species, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch. In late winter 2008, small flock of Purple Finches stopped in. Spring: Several late-spring records of migrants for the upper Texas coast. Summer: Red-headed and Pileated Woodpeckers, Greater Roadrunner, Brown-headed Nuthatch, White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Swallow-tailed and Mississippi Kites nest nearby.
When to go
Year-round. Highest bird diversity in May and September. Park is most beautiful in spring when the trees and flowers are in bloom.
Nature center offers weekly Wednesday birdwalks from 8:30 to 11, birding bus trips for seniors, and classes on beginning birdwatching and current topics in ornithology. Checklist. Restrooms and drinking fountains in both tracts.
Harris County Precinct 3 park. No fees. Open 7-dusk every day. Nature center open 8-5 daily, except holidays.
Bird the parking lots of both tracts; they provide views of surrounding open habitats and are frequented by nuthatches, roadrunners, and other birds. Also watch for foxes, bobcats, snakes, and other wildlife.
For more info
Warren Ranch Lake
13.7 miles from Kleb Woods on Warren Ranch Rd. 4,000 acres protected by the Katy Prairie Conservancy. Ducks and geese in fall and winter. Spoonbills in summer.
Paul Rushing Park
17 miles from Kleb Woods on Katy-Hockley Rd., near the town of Katy. Waterfowl and raptors in winter; shorebirds in spring.