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Brazos Bend State Park - BirdForum Opus

Photo by HelenB
Wood Storks roosting on the north side of Elm Lake, September 2010

United States, Texas


Brazos Bend State Park is located about 28 miles southwest of Houston, in Fort Bend County, Texas. It is about 5000 acres in size and has a variety of habitats, such as lakes, swamp, woodland and prairie, almost all accessible by a great trail system. Its eastern boundary lies along the Brazos River.

This birding hotspot is site no. UTC 117 on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail.

  • Most parks are open with some limitations and guidelines in place. It is recommended that you make a day pass and/or camping reservation in advance.

Click here for details of closed and restricted areas at Texas State Parks

See the official website link below for updates[5].


Notable Species

Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Anhinga, Bald Eagle, Cinnamon Teal, Vermilion Flycatcher (winter), Prothonotary Warbler (summer), Wood Stork (Fall).


Rusty Blackbird, Tropical Parula in mid Jan, 2009 (no recent reports). Least Grebe seen March, 2009. Streak-backed Oriole in March and April 2005, and Masked Duck in January of 1996 and 1997. Couch's Kingbird occurs occasionally.

Photo by HelenB
Observation Tower at the North East corner of 40-Acre Lake, March 2009


Birds you can see here include:

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Greater White-fronted Goose, Snow Goose, Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Mallard, Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Wild Turkey, Northern Bobwhite, Pied-billed Grebe, American White Pelican, Neotropic Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, American Bittern, Least Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, White-faced Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Wood Stork, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, White-tailed Kite, Mississippi Kite, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Swainson's Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, King Rail, Virginia Rail, Sora, Purple Gallinule, Common Gallinule, American Coot, Sandhill Crane, Black-necked Stilt, American Golden-Plover, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Least Sandpiper, Wilson's Snipe, Mourning Dove, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Barred Owl, Chimney Swift, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Crested Caracara, American Kestrel, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Vermilion Flycatcher, Couch's Kingbird, Eastern Kingbird, Loggerhead Shrike, White-eyed Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo, Blue Jay, American Crow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Purple Martin, Tree Swallow, Bank Swallow, Barn Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Cave Swallow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, House Wren,Winter Wren, Sedge Wren, Marsh Wren, Carolina Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Bluebird, Swainson's Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Wood Thrush, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, American Pipit, Sprague's Pipit, Cedar Waxwing, Ovenbird, Worm-eating Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Northern Waterthrush, Golden-winged Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Swainson's Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Mourning Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Hooded Warbler, American Redstart, Northern Parula, Tropical Parula (rare), Magnolia Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Palm Warbler, Pine Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Canada Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Henslow's Sparrow, Le Conte's Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, White-crowned Sparrow, Harris's Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Summer Tanager, Scarlet Tanager, Northern Cardinal, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Black-headed Grosbeak, Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Painted Bunting, Dickcissel, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Rusty Blackbird (rare), Brewer's Blackbird, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, Great-tailed Grackle, Bronzed Cowbird (rare), Brown-headed Cowbird, Orchard Oriole, Baltimore Oriole, House Finch, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow

Photo by HelenB
40-Acre Lake, looking south-west from the Observation Tower. Photo taken October 24th, 2008, six weeks after Hurricane Ike did quite a lot of damage in the Park. Click on photo to see a larger image

Other Wildlife

38 species of reptiles, amphibians and mammals, including:
American Alligator, a variety of snakes, turtles, frogs and lizards, Fox Squirrel, Nine-banded Armadillo, Raccoon, Virginia Opossum, Nutria, River Otter, White-tailed Deer, Bobcat and Coyote. Good for butterflies and dragonflies, too.

Site Information

Photo by HelenB
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, at the South West corner of Elm Lake, April 2008

History and Use

The land was purchased by the state of Texas in 1976-77 and was opened to the public in 1984.

Areas of Interest

  • About 35 miles of hiking and biking trails, and one equestrian trail with primitive campsite.
  • 3 picnic areas with barbeque pits, 2 of them with group pavilions.
  • Creekfield Lake Nature Trail has interpretive signs and is wheelchair accessible.
  • Elm Lake, 40-Acre Lake, Old and New Horseshoe Lakes, Hale Lake - all have walking trails around them.
  • Observation Tower overlooking Pilant and 40-Acre Lakes.
  • The George Observatory (operated by the Houston Museum of Natural Science) is located in the Park.

Access and Facilities

Photo by HelenB
American Alligator resting by the Spillway Bridge, April 2010
  • The park is open 7 days a week, all year.
  • Check the website in External Links, for emergency or scheduled closures.
  • Gate Hours: Fri-Sun: 7am-10pm; Mon-Thurs: 8am-10pm.
  • Fees: $7 per day, 13 and older; Seniors (65 and older) 50% off with a Texas Parklands Passport; free with the Texas State Parks Pass ($70 per year).
  • Nature Center - open Mon-Fri 11am-3pm, Sat & Sun 9am-5pm, major holidays (except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day) 9am-5pm.
  • Headquarters (at entrance) has gift shop, open daily.
  • Camping facilities and cabins available in the Park.
  • See below for links to park maps and bird checklists.

Directions: The Park is about 1 hour drive from the center of Houston. Take the I-69 Freeway south and exit at Crabb River Road, follow the brown signs south, onto FM 762. The park entrance will be on the left. Directions map

Contact Details

Photo by HelenB
Spillway Bridge on the Spillway Trail between 40-Acre Lake and Elm Lake, February 2010

Brazos Bend State Park
21901 FM 762
Needville TX 77461
Tel: 979-553-5102

External Links

  1. Bird Check list (PDF) - revised 2006
  2. eBird bar chart of bird observations for BBSP
  3. Park Map - printable
  4. Trail Map - printable
  5. Texas Parks and Wildlife official website for Brazos Bend State Park
  6. BBSP Volunteers Website for details of park activities
  7. Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail - Brazoria Loop

Content and images originally posted by HelenB