Along the shores of Lake Texoma, this refuge 75 miles north of Dallas-Fort Worth provides nesting, stopover, and wintering habitat for more than 290 bird species, including warblers, vireos, shorebirds, waterfowl, and raptors.
By Gail Morris | Published: 2/19/2010
Although this North Texas refuge covers 11,320 acres, I rarely get beyond Oil Field Road and the marshes off the main road. And despite miles of walking trails (some with benches), I often find plenty of birds from the car.
The one season when I do walk the trails is spring. In April and May, I know I’m in for hours of warbler neck, but I don’t mind. I start at my favorite spot, the bridge near the Big Mineral Day Use Area parking lot, and bird the thicket of trees to the north on Oil Field Road. I look for warblers and other migrating passerines, including Prothonotary and Wilson’s Warblers, Harris’s and Swamp Sparrows, and Painted Bunting.
Summer months can be quiet unless you start early. In fall and winter, the marshes, ponds, and viewing spots overlooking Lake Texoma are covered with ducks, pelicans, herons, and egrets. December through February is a favorite time. Thousands of Snow Geese, including blue morphs, spend the winter, along with Ross’s and Greater White-fronted Geese. And I frequently see good comparison views of Cackling and Canada Geese, too. — Gail Morris
Gail Morris is past president of the Fort Worth Audubon Society. She also wrote about the Village Creek Drying Beds, Fort Worth, Texas, Hotspot Near You No. 45, and Cement Creek Reservoir, Fort Worth, Texas, No. 75.
At a Glance
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Prairie, grasslands, wetlands, woodlands, ponds, large lake, and agricultural habitats.
Gravel and dirt roads. More than 15 miles of walking trails.
More than 290 species, plus 46 accidentals. Targets: Geese, loons, scaup, grebes, sparrows. Raptors and Forster’s, Least, and Black Terns in spring, summer, and fall. Spring: Migrating warblers, vireos, American White Pelican. Summer: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Painted and Indigo Buntings, Summer Tanager, Dickcissel, Mississippi Kite, swallows, lingering shorebirds. Fall: Early geese and ducks. Winter: Green- and Blue-winged and Cinnamon Teal, Northern Pintail, Ruddy Duck, Lesser Scaup, Northern Shoveler, Mallard, Gadwall, Eared Grebe, Swamp Sparrow, Marsh Wren. Year-round: Greater Roadrunner, Red-headed Woodpecker. Rarities: Eurasian Wigeon, Little Gull, Long-tailed Duck, White-winged Scoter, Golden Eagle, Northern Shrike, Fish Crow, Bobolink, Great Kiskadee, Tundra Swan.
When to go
Spring for migrating songbirds, fall and winter for thousands of waterfowl.
Restrooms at visitor center. Portable toilets. Downloadable checklist on website.
Federal wildlife refuge. No fee. Open from daylight to nightfall every day. Visitor center open Monday-Friday 7:30-4, Saturday 9-3, and, if volunteers are available, Sunday 1-4.
Drive with caution. Heavy rains may cause flooding and slick conditions along the area’s many creeks. Do not go beyond barricades.
For more info
Farm roads outside of the refuge
Northern Shrike, Trumpeter Swan, and other birds have been seen along nearby meandering roads. Do not park on the roads.
Preston Point area
30 minutes north of refuge via FM 120 on Lake Texoma. Scan marinas and rec area in winter for loons, mergansers, Eared Grebe, and occasional rare gulls.