Great Texas Wildlife Trails

Buffalo Bayou Loop

Buffalo Bayou Loop map

Buffalo Bayou Loop mapSam Houston ParkBuffalo Bayou ParkWhite Oak ParkHermann Park/Houston ZooRuss Pittman Park (Nature Discovery Center)Houston Arboretum & Memorial Park

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More information:

  • Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
    (800) 365-7575

088.gif UTC 088 Sam Houston Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations

Site open for day use only.

From Alvin, return to I-45 and continue north to Houston (or return south to Galveston). The intention of the following loop is to offer several birding sites to visitors who may have traveled to Houston on business. These locations are within walking distance, or a short drive, of downtown Houston and the Texas Medical Center.

Begin your downtown Houston birding at Sam Houston Park (across from the Texaco Heritage Plaza at 1100 Bagby). During migration, many landbirds become disoriented as they pass in and around the tall buildings in the downtown area. These confused migrants search out pockets of suitable habitat. This 19-acre park, with its mature oaks and pecans, offers refuge among the skyscrapers. Enron, working with the Environmental Institute of Houston and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, has recently constructed native plant gardens and freshwater wetlands at this urban site. The oaks around city hall are also worth checking during the spring.

089.gif UTC 089 Buffalo Bayou Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations, Winter

Site open for day use only.

From Sam Houston Park, go west on Allen Parkway. Buffalo Bayou Park extends from downtown Houston west to Shepherd Drive. Houston is renovating the downtown section of Buffalo Bayou around Allen’s Landing, and this entire stretch of the bayou should be increasingly hospitable. A hike-and-bike trail borders the bayou, and the riparian woodlands along the bayou attract migrants.

090.gif UTC 090 White Oak Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations, Winter

Site open for day use only.

From the intersection of Allen Parkway and Shepherd, return east toward downtown Houston on Memorial Drive. Exit to Houston Avenue, and go north to White Oak Drive. Proceed north on White Oak Drive to White Oak Park. Citizens in this community have cleaned portions of White Oak Bayou here, and in doing so restored a swamp where Yellow-crowned Night-Herons and Green Herons nest. A number of eastern woodland species reside in the park. Stude and Woodland parks (both adjacent to White Oak Park) are also worth a brief visit.

091.gif UTC 091 Hermann Park / Houston Zoo

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons (particularly Winter)

Site open for day use only.

Return on Houston Avenue to Memorial Drive. Go east on Memorial Drive to downtown Houston (Memorial will become Rusk Avenue) and Fannin Street. Proceed southwest on Fannin Street to Hermann Park and the Houston Zoological Gardens (1513 N. MacGregor in Hermann Park). The Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Burke Baker Planetarium, the Wortham IMAX Theatre, and the Cockrell Butterfly Center are all located in this complex.

Hermann Park borders Rice University and the Texas Medical Center, and is within a short walking distance of both. The Houston Zoological Gardens contain a “tropical bird house resembling Asian jungle with more than 200 exotic birds flying freely through aviary rain forest.” More importantly, this zoo supports a world-famous captive-breeding program for endangered birds. In recent years, Attwater Prairie-Chickens have been reared at this location. A number of eastern woodland birds, including Red-headed Woodpecker, may be seen in Hermann Park (particularly around Miller Theatre). During winter, check the lakes in the park for Canvasbacks, Redheads, Ring-necked Ducks, and Greater and Lesser Scaup among the domestic waterfowl.

092.gif UTC 092 Russ Pittman Park (nature Discovery Center)

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migrations, Winter

Site open for day use only.

Continue southwest on Fannin to Holcombe, then west on Holcombe (which becomes Bellaire) to Newcastle. Go south on Newcastle to Evergreen. Russ Pittman Park is located at the intersection of Newcastle and Evergreen. This urban oasis attracts migrant landbirds during migration, and the hummingbird feeders maintained by the nature center staff are magnets for wintering hummingbirds. Buff-bellied, Ruby-throated, Black-chinned, Broad-tailed and Rufous are among the species that have been seen here during the winter months.

Nature Discovery Center
7112 Newcastle
Bellaire, Texas 77402-0777
(713) 667-6550

093.gif UTC 093 Houston Arboretum and Memorial Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only.

Continue west on Evergreen to Loop 610, then go north on Loop 610 to the Woodway exit. Proceed east on Woodway to the Houston Arboretum and Memorial Park. Nature trails that originate at the Arboretum center eventually reach the banks of Buffalo Bayou. These mixed pine/oak woodlands, fenced in by urban sprawl from all directions, still support a diverse population of eastern woodland birds. Pine, Swainson’s, Kentucky, and Hooded warblers breed within this park. In late winter, American Woodcocks (a rare breeder on the upper coast) have displayed here. Watch for Mississippi Kites feeding on dragonflies as they skim the treetops along Buffalo Bayou in late August and early September.

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