Willow Waterhole Bird Surveys

The Nature Discovery Center is partnering with Houston Audubon to conduct monthly bird surveys at Willow Waterhole.
Senior Staff Naturalist Mary Ann Beauchemin will be leading these surveys. Please feel free to join her and other volunteers!

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.

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 May through August. 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.

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.

Gallery of Willow Waterhole Bird Photos
by Ben Hulsey

August 20, 2016 Survey Results

36 Species

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 56
Mottled Duck 7
Northern Shoveler 4
Neotropic Cormorant 7
Double-crested Cormorant 1 I will contact the person who saw this bird and see if they can send details.
cormorant sp. 1
Great Blue Heron 5
Great Egret 4
Snowy Egret 1
Little Blue Heron 1
Tricolored Heron 5
Cattle Egret 1
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron 1
White Ibis 1
Cooper's Hawk 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Swainson's Hawk 1
hawk sp. 10 A kettle high and flying away from observers, so they could not be ID-ed for sure as Buteos.
Killdeer 1
Laughing Gull 1
gull sp. 1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 166
White-winged Dove 117
Mourning Dove 57
Chimney Swift 11
Downy Woodpecker 3
Loggerhead Shrike 3
Blue Jay 12
American Crow 5
Purple Martin 16
Tree Swallow 2
Barn Swallow 15
Carolina Chickadee 2
Gray Catbird 1
Northern Mockingbird 12
European Starling 38
Northern Cardinal 6
Great-tailed Grackle 20
blackbird sp. 2
House Sparrow 1


























Last Updated on Tuesday, December 27, 2016 01:42 PM
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