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Bird Surveys

Willow Waterhole Bird Survey

Next Survey: April 20 at 7 AM

Leader: Mary Ann Beauchemin, Senior Naturalist at the Nature Discovery Center. The Nature Discovery Center is partnering with Houston Audubon to conduct the Willow Waterhole survey.


American Kestrel
American Kestrel at Willow Waterhole

by Mark Meyer

Latest Report: March 16

We had a pretty nice bird survey last Saturday at Willow Waterhole. We managed to get over 50 species as a group (51 species + 4 taxa not identified to species), which has not happened often recently. Some of the highlights of the morning were some great looks at White Pelicans, an Osprey standing in the water near the shoreline of one of the ponds and a FOS Scissor-tailed Flycatcher that David Crabtree got a great digi-scope picture of! A very special thanks to David Crabtree & Mark Meyer who joined me in leading the individual survey area groups this morning. Many thanks to the many folks who helped conduct the survey: Lori Actor, Christina & Paul Anderson, Vasudha & Siddharth Bharadwaj, Fred Campbell, Gerry del Junco, Michael Honel, Mary Knapp, Parry Lauzon, Arnie Ostrin, Greg & Ju-Ling Poston, Melinda Pumpelly, Bernard Silgardo, Evelyn Smith, Katherine Swarts, Margaret Swarts, Sherri Taxman, Beatty Watts, Les Wolf and Liz Zivley.

Mark your calendars! Our next count will be Sat, April 20, starting at 7 AM. Please note: We begin our 7 AM start time next month to help avoid the warmer temperatures. Sunrise will be at 6:50 AM that day so you have a great chance to see some birds before they are disturbed by too much morning activity! I will be out of town that day, but Mark Meyer will be leading the survey that day! It is the day before Easter, but I hope a good number of you can come and help out that day.

-- Mary Ann Beauchemin

Bird Survey

The Willow Waterhole Bird Survey was started in June 2007 and is held on the third Saturday of each month (but no survey in December). During the 2-hour count, the number of species identified can range from around 30 in summer to over 50 in the winter.

The survey begins in the parking lot of the Gathering Place at 5310 South Willow Drive. Our usual starting time is 8 AM, but we begin at 7 AM from April through September. We split up into three or four groups to cover the park thoroughly, and as of mid-2015, nearly 200 species had been reported to eBird. For a list of species reported to date, see eBird.

General Information

The Willow Waterhole Conservation Reserve is the site of an ongoing retention pond project of the Harris County Flood Control District. With excavation underway on the fourth of six ponds, the 290-acre park continues to be an excellent birding area within the City of Houston and just outside the southwest corner of Loop 610.

Birding Willow Waterhole

The major part of the Willow Waterhole reserve is on the west side of South Post Oak Road, and that is where three of the ponds are located (with two more to come). Good places to park for birding these ponds are on Ricecrest Street and on the Clematis Lane cul-de-sac off of Gasmer. Also, adjacent to the parking lot at the Gathering Place on South Willow is a short, woodland path to the unconcreted Willow Waterhole Bayou, which marks the northern boundary of the park. Another parking area is on the gravel road at the eastern end of Dryad Drive behind Westbury High School.

On the Willow Waterhole property east of South Post Oak Road, the fourth of the six ponds is being excavated. This is also where the endangered Texas Prairie Dawn flower (Hymenoxys texana) is located and where several species of sparrows have been seen each winter. Because the flower is an endangered species, the HCFCD is required by law to return much of the surrounding acreage back to coastal prairie, including removal of non-native vegetation. Access to this property is at the south end of Windwood Drive or along Gasmer.