Matagorda / Rio Colorado Loop

More Information:

Sargent Beach
CTC 001

This site is open for day use only.

Take FM 457 south from its intersection with FM 521 in Matagorda County. Explore the coastal grasslands and marshes along FM 457 approaching the coast (White-tailed Kite, Northern Harrier, Sandhill Crane in winter).

Scan the beach for shorebirds (Black-bellied Plover, Piping Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling). The bottomlands along Caney Creek, immediately southwest of Sargent, accommodate a rich woodland avifauna. Many of the eastern woodland species, such as Pileated Woodpecker and Eastern Bluebird, may be found in the forests along this waterway. This site is a great jumping off point for birders wanting to explore the Upper Texas Coast Birding Trail. PLEASE, ONLY BIRD CANEY CREEK FROM THE PUBLIC ROADS.

Latitude: 28.7703
Longitude: -95.6168

Matagorda County Jetty Park
CTC 003

This site is open for day use only.

Drive west on FM 521 to the intersection of Texas 60 at Wadsworth, proceed south on Texas 60 to Matagorda. The grasslands along FM 521 between Sargent and Matagorda offer a fine opportunity to see White-tailed Hawks. The wooded lots within Matagorda have been planted with a variety of exotic trees and shrubs that attract neotropical birds in spring and fall. This area is also an important part of the nationally renowned Matagorda County– Mad Island Marsh Christmas Bird Count. From Texas 60 in Matagorda, turn left (south) on FM 2031, and follow the Colorado River to the Gulf.

There are numerous places to pull off the road, and the marshes adjacent to the road support a wide variety of wading birds such as White Ibis, White-faced Ibis (look closely for Glossy Ibis in spring), and Roseate Spoonbill, as well as salt marsh inhabitants such as Clapper Rail and Seaside Sparrow. Walk onto the pier in winter and scan the Gulf for Northern Gannet, Scoters or Jaegers (in the summer, look for Magnificent Frigatebirds soaring over the placid Gulf waters). Gulls, terns and shorebirds roost at the mouth of the river adjacent to the pier. In addition, the beach to the east is an excellent spot to look for Snowy and Piping plovers. Stop by Matagorda Bay Natural Science Center adjacent to Jetty Park for information on birding or the Matagorda area. The center features a free interactive exhibit hall illustrating the ecological and economic importance of the Colorado River to the region. The center also hosts community programs such as kayaking, beachcombing and live animal presentations to introduce visitors to the marvels of Matagorda.

(979) 863-2603

Latitude: 28.5978
Longitude: -95.9780

Attwater Prairie-Chicken National Wildlife Refuge
CTC 004

This site is open for day use only.

Travel north on TX 60 from Matagorda to Wharton, take FM 102 north to its merger with FM 3013, then take FM 3013 east to the refuge entrance (approximately 6 miles northeast of Eagle Lake).

Attwater Prairie-Chicken NWR encompasses one of the most significant expanses of native grassland remaining in Colorado County. Established to protect a vestige population of Attwater's Greater Prairie-Chicken, the refuge is home to many species of grassland birds that have become scarce with the conversion of the native prairies to agricultural uses. White-tailed Hawk, Ferruginous Hawk, Sprague's Pipit, Sedge Wren, Grasshopper Sparrow, LeConte's Sparrow, and Harris's Sparrow are among the species that are relatively easy to find here in winter. A number of rarities have appeared here, including Least Grebe, Masked Duck, Zone-tailed Hawk, Golden Eagle, Prairie Falcon, and Say's Phoebe. Access to the refuge is restricted. The refuge hosts the Attwater's Prairie-Chicken Festival each spring during the second weekend in April. In addition, the Attwater Prairie-Chicken NWR CBC is held each year in late December (contact refuge to participate). Eagle Lake (approximately 2 miles south of the town of Eagle Lake on FM 102) furnishes quality viewing opportunities for waterfowl. Bald Eagles are frequently seen soaring over the lake in the winter.

(979) 234-3021

Latitude: 29.6443
Longitude: -96.2563

Eagle Lake Municipal Park
CTC 004A

This site is open for day use only.

Coming from I-10, take exit 699 toward FM 102/Eagle Lake. Turn south onto FM 102 S, go straight for 12.6 miles and turn right on N McCarty Ave. After .2 mile turn left, drive straight across Boothe Dr., turn right in 200 feet. There is a parking lot just past the gazebo and the walking trail is just south of the parking lot.

The City of Eagle Lake is home to the second largest natural lake in Texas. Hundreds of species of birds inhabit the lake throughout the year, and the Eagle Lake Municipal Park is one of the few public areas for viewing the lake. While grassland bird species are abundant in the surrounding coastal prairie habitat, Eagle Lake provides more opportunities to see waterfowl and woodland species. The boardwalk takes you through a woodland filled with a variety of birds year round and ends at the viewing platform with the vista of Eagle Lake. In the winter, a variety of migrating waterfowl species are abundant on the lake, and bald eagles are frequently seen. In the spring, visitors can see Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Orange-crowned Warbler, Indigo and Painted Buntings, several vireo species and many other families of birds. Eagle Lake is a stand-alone birding paradise.

(979) 234-2640

Latitude: 29.5868
Longitude: -96.3372

Matagorda County Birding and Nature Center
CTC 005A

This site is open for day use only.

Return to Wharton and take TX 60 south to Bay City. Take TX 35 south 1.7 miles to the entrance.

The nature center features an outdoor learning center and hummingbird/butterfly gardens. The ADA accessible trails, observation bridges and platforms provide access to wetlands, native grasslands, and bottomlands along the Colorado River. Future plans include an indoor learning center and interpretive displays.

(979) 245-3336

Latitude: 28.9840
Longitude: -96.0126

South Texas Project Prairie Wetlands
CTC 006

This site is open for day use only.

Return to the intersection of FM 521 and TX 60 and travel west 2 miles past the Colorado River to the South Texas Project. Park at the observation area.

The 110-acre project consists of three seasonally flooded wetlands which host many species of wintering ducks and roosting geese. In spring, look for migrant shorebirds and other waterbirds. Site is a good place to look for Least Grebe, Cinnamon Teal, and Bald Eagle when flooded. For a tour of the site, contact the Visitors Center (361-972-3611).

Latitude: 28.8051
Longitude: -96.0376