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Brazos Bend State Park
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Brazos Bend State Park and adjacent areas Birding Checklist

Master Checklist in PDF format (800Kb, 2 pages)

View the current Brazos Bend Bird Sightings or the Ebird Hotspot Brazos Bend SP (UTC 117)

Brazos Bend State Park, a 4,977 acre tract located in Fort Bend County is situated next to the Brazos River and is representative of the rich wildlife habitat known most commonly as the "Brazos Bottomlands."  This habitat is typical of many riverine areas of the southeast part of Texas and adjacent Louisiana.  The combination of bottomland hardwood forest, a major river, a large tributary, lakes, ponds, and grasslands, provide food, cover and living areas for the wildlife indigenous to the area.

The parkland supports three major terrestrial habitats: Live Oak woodland, bottomland hardwoods and tall grass coastal prairie. The Live Oak woodland has numerous large Live Oak trees festooned with Spanish Moss. This community occupies an ancient meander scarp of the Brazos River. The bottomland hardwoods consist of Pecan, Burr Oak, Water Oak, Live Oak, and Elm. The tall grass coastal prairie has Little Bluestem, Indian Grass, Bushy Bluestem and Switchgrass. Some of the best terrestrial birding is at the transition zones where two habitats meet (ie., tall grass coastal prairie/Live oak woodland edge).

Brazos Bend State Park has a rich and varied birdlife. Historically, Attwater's Prairie Chicken occurred here. The large variety of resident species is joined at various times of the year by migrants going north or south, by species wintering within the upper Texas coastal area, or by species which nest in the park and migrate south for the winter. Thus, depending upon seasonal factors, there are large fluctuations in both the number of bird species and the number of individuals present in the park. In addition, like all areas bordering the Gulf of Mexico in the southern United States, weather plays an important role in the bird population within the park, especially during peak migration of neotropical species during spring and fall.  For example, during late April or early May, a heavy thunderstorm can ground many birds, and after the storm passes the bird population of the park is noticeably greater for a brief period.

Though the park's habitats are varied, the primary attractant for bird life is the abundance of water within the park and along the Brazos River bordering the park's east side. Particularly rewarding areas for birders are the park's three largest water bodies, 40 Acre, Elm and Pilant Lakes. Depending on the season, these lakes contain many wading birds, waterfowl shorebirds and other species which are attracted to the woodlands bordering the lakes.  40 Acre and Elm Lakes especially are easily accessible by trails. Pilant Lake supports several large rookeries. Some nesting by wading birds also occurs at Elm Lake. Visitors should concentrate their bird watching on these three areas if their time is limited.

This checklist includes 300 species documented within the park itself and adjacent area within the park’s 15 mile diameter Christmas Bird Count (CBC) circle. In addition, a short list of several species to be expected is included at the end of the checklist.  These species are expected because of the park's habitat and the status of these species on the upper Texas coast.  Of the species recorded, 88 have been confirmed as nesting within the park and adjacent area.

Numerous species of reptiles amphibians and mammals may also be found. Most visible are the American Alligator, Nine-banded Armadillo, White-tailed Deer and Raccoon. Feral hogs may also be seen and, as with the alligators, great care should be taken when around these animals.

You can contribute to this checklist by reporting new and unusual sightings or changes in status on the Sighting Report forms available at the park headquarters.  Please forward the completed forms to the Natural Resource Program, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744. Nomenclature and order for this checklist are based on the 7th edition of the A.O.U. Checklist of North American Birds as currently supplemented.

Please help us protect the natural avian communities in our parks by refraining from using playback recordings of bird songs.  Frequent use of recordings disrupts normal avian activity patterns, disrupts essential territorial behavior and may lead to nest failure. Thank you for your cooperation.

This checklist originally compiled by James G. Morgan and Ted Eubanks, Jr. over 4 and a half years prior to the opening of the park in 1984.  Additional contributors to this list were Kelly Bryan, Marilyn Crane, Dennis Jones, Margaret Jones, Geneva LaVerne, and T. Paul.  Revisions and updates were completed in 2006 by Bill Godley and David Heinicke.


Updated: Mar 06, 2017