The Guide to
Austin-area Birding Sites
Good places to see birds in and around Austin
County Park -
(512) 473-9437 (General
number for Travis County
Location: From the intersection of U.S. Highway 183 and FM 969 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.), go east on FM 969 for 14.5 miles (note: east of U.S. 183, the name of FM 969 changes to Webberville Rd.). Turn right (south) onto Webberwood Dr. and follow the signs for 0.6 mile to the Park entrance.
Habitats: Parkland with large, scattered Pecans; riparian woodland along the Colorado River. Good for migrants, especially in spring. Several typically eastern birds are regular nesters here, including Red-eyed Vireo. White-breasted Nuthatch (rare in the Austin area) has also nested. Among other rarities found here in the past: Yellow-green Vireo.
Facilities: Trails (handicapped accessible), restrooms, water fountains, picnic area.
Further exploration: En route to Webberville Park, you will pass Little Webberville Park in the town of Webberville; since this Park also fronts on the Colorado River, it might repay a visit during migration. Continuing east on FM 969 for 0.8 mile past Webberwood Rd. brings you to the bridge over Coleman Branch; Cave Swallows sometimes nest under this bridge. Park cautiously.
Bend Biosolids Management
2210 South FM 973, Austin
TX 78725, (512) 929-1000
Location: From the FM 969/U.S. Highway 183 junction, go east on FM 969 for 4 miles to its intersection with FM 973 (note: west of U.S.183, FM 969 is known as Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.; east of U.S.183, it is Webberville Rd.). At the FM 969/FM 973 intersection, turn right (south) onto FM 973 and follow it for 3.2 miles; the entrance to Hornsby Bend will be on the right. Hornsby Bend can also be accessed from Texas Highway 71: Go 1.6 mile east of the main entrance to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, turn left (north) onto FM 973, and follow FM 973 for a mile; the entrance to Hornby Bend will be on the left. Follow the entrance Rd. for 1/4 mile to just before the gate, then take the road on the left which leads up onto the levee. The facility’s lagoons can be viewed from atop the levee, and trails to the Colorado River can be accessed from marked points along the levee.
Habitat: The best and most frequently birded site in the Austin area. More than 350 species have been recorded here. The Hornsby Bend complex contains four old sewage lagoons, woods along the Colorado River, and fields. Be prepared for unpleasant odors and summer heat and humidity. Insects, though abundant and sometimes annoying, seldom bite. Water levels determine which birds are found in which lagoon, as well as overall numbers present; at the present time (1999), Lagoon 1 West is the best area for shorebirds, Lagoon 2 is best for ducks. In the near future, Lagoon 3 may be reflooded to attract shorebirds. Mudflats, drying basins, and short-grass fields usually attract thousands of shorebirds during migration (late March to mid-May and July through October). Western, Least, and Pectoral sandpipers are the most common, though 42 shorebird species have been recorded (including such rarities as Northern Jacana, Ruff, and Red Phalarope); Black-necked Stilts and Killdeer breed. Osprey and Peregrine Falcon overwinter, as do thousands of ducks and coots from November to March; Northern Shoveler is the most common species. Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks and Wood Ducks nest nearby, bringing ducklings to the lagoons in early summer. Several non-native species of waterfowl have been released here as well. Swallows are often abundant during migration; flocks sometimes include a few Cave Swallows. Loggerhead Shrikes and Dickcissels nest in nearby fields. Migrant, summering, and wintering songbirds are common along riverside trails during the appropriate seasons. Resident species of the riparian area include Red-shouldered Hawk; among the summer nesters is Indigo Bunting. Some of the many rarities seen at Hornsby Bend over the years: Pacific Loon, Magnificent Frigatebird, Whooping Crane, Black Skimmer, Fork-tailed Flycatcher.
orientation to the Hornsby
Bend complex, consult the
main kiosk located next
to the parking lot outside
the Center for Environmental
Research (the building near
the entrance to the facility).
A bird checklist for the
facility is available at
the CER Main Kiosk, as are
other literature and the
In addition to the main
kiosk, there are three kiosks
atop the levee. The log
of recent bird sightings
is in the mailbox next to
the first levee kiosk. An
observation blind is planned
for Lagoon 2. A book about
the birds of Hornsby Bend,
by Rob Fergus, is in preparation
(University of Texas Press).
The lagoons and riverside
trails (mostly handicapped
accessible, with some assistance)
are open from 6 a.m. to
8:30 p.m. year round. Restrooms
and water fountains are
available inside the CER
Monday through Friday, from
7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Web site:
Note: Industrial processes and construction work are ongoing at Hornsby Bend, where Dillo Dirt soil amendment is produced. Avoid these areas – stay on top of the levee or on marked trails at all times. Comply with barricades. Do not interfere with facility workers. When parking, do not block the road. Following these rules will help ensure continued access to the Hornsby Bend complex.
17. Lake Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park * (Decker Lake) -
6614 Blue Bluff Rd., (512)
Location: Exit U.S. Highway 183 at Loyola Ln. and follow Loyola east for 3.5 miles to the intersection with Blue Bluff Rd. (note: east of FM 3177 [Decker Ln.], Loyola Ln.’s name changes to Decker Lake Rd.). Turn left (north) onto Blue Bluff Rd. and follow it 0.1 mile to the Park entrance.
Habitats: Open lake; some reedbeds. Mesquite parkland. Oak woods. Conifer plantations. The lake often hosts waterbirds, though seldom in large numbers. Migrant landbirds are occasionally numerous. Among the resident birds are Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, more typically found farther west; Downy Woodpeckers also occur here. The marshy area east of the lake, between the dam and FM 973, may support such species as Common Yellowthroatand Swamp Sparrow during migration and winter.
Facilities: Map, trails, restrooms, water fountains, picnic area. Often crowded; early arrival is best (the park opens at 6 a.m.). Entrance fee.
Further exploration: Return to Decker Lake Rd., turn left, and follow Decker Lake Rd. to FM 973. Turn left (north) onto FM 973 and follow it for 2.6 miles to Bloor Rd. (en route, you may want to check the water impoundments in the Decker Creek area; if you do, use extreme caution in parking). Turn left (west) onto Bloor Rd. Over the next 7/8 mile, check the ponds on the right side of the road for waterfowl (Hooded Mergansershave been seen in fall and winter). This is also a good area for wintering sparrows.
Creek Wasterwater Treatment
Plant - 7113
FM 969, (512) 927-4000
Location: On the south side of FM 969, 0.8 mile east of its intersection with U.S. Highway 183 (note: west of U.S. 183, FM 969 is known as Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.; east of U.S.183, it is Webberville Rd.).
Habitats: Most of the facility is closed to the public, but pay a visit to the ornamental pond in front of the administration building. Least Grebes have occurred here several times but are very rare, and Neotropic Cormorants are sometimes present in late spring. Hooded Mergansers have been found during fall and winter. Several non-native species of waterfowl have been released here as well. Also check the trees surrounding the pond (Vermilion Flycatcher has been recorded), as well as surrounding fields (where both Eastern and Western meadowlarks – but mostly the former – occur during winter). See also Site 20.
Facilities: Restrooms and water fountains inside the administration building.
Further exploration: On weekends only: From the entrance to the Walnut Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, go west on FM 969 for 0.2 mile and park in the pullout on the left (south) side of the highway, just west of Walnut Creek. Do not block traffic. Walk the path paralleling the creek. Be careful not to trespass on adjacent private land. A good area throughout the year for woodland birds. Great Horned Owls are often heard at dusk, especially during December and January.
Austin-area Birding Sites
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
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