Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historical Park

Bert Frenz, 2001

While always a worthwhile visit for its significance to the history of Texas and for the excellent museum on the grounds, Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historical Park is also a great place to bird. The picnic areas beneath stately pecan trees, the open grassy fields, the frontage along the Brazos River, the confluence of the Brazos and Navasota Rivers, the nature trails and the beaver pond collectively produce habitats for an excellent selection of local birds.  In winter, along the nature trail, one can find nearly a dozen sparrow species in an hour or two, including Spotted Towhee and Fox and Harris's Sparrows.  The Beaver Pond is always a good place to check for Wood Ducks as well as other ducks such as Lesser Scaup, Northern Pintail, American Wigeon and Common Goldeneye.   American Bitterns have also been found there.  In January and February of 2000, the first record of a Couch's Kingbird for the Central Brazos Valley was identified at the park.  Also, during that same time period the park ranger spotted a Bald Eagle along the Brazos River.  Mississippi Kites nest in the area and on one Fourth of July celebration a kite soared over the Houston Symphonic Band while they performed.

To get to the park from College Station, take the scenic route through the farmlands of southern Brazos County, where the birding can be quite good.  Here's the route.   Zero your odometer at Texas Av and University Dr and head west on University Dr. (FM 60).  After 1.2 miles, exit right to turn left on Wellborn Rd. (FM 2154), cross George Bush Dr. at 2.2, then FM2818 at 3.7 miles.  At milepost 16.2 in Millican, turn right (south) on FR 159.  From here on, you will encounter a number of farms and the roadways bordering these farms can often be quite productive.  Two known by birders are Walton Ranch, which spurs to the left at milepost 19.1 and, continuing on FR 159, Moore Farm at milepost 21.2.  Respect private property and bird along the roads.   At milepost 22.6 in the railroad-crossing site known as Allen Farm, check out the area around the tracks and also explore the road to the right that borders Moore Farms.   This is a good area for quail and doves, including the first county record for Eurasian Collared-Dove.  Continue along FR 159 through the open fields of rich Brazos River bottomland.  Look for nesting Dickcissel, Northern Rough-winged Swallows and Lark Sparrows.  At milepost 30.5, turn right (west) on Texas 105 and cross the Brazos River, entering Washington County.  At 33.0 turn left (south) on FM 1155, continue to the town of Washington where you turn right and enter the park at milepost 34.6.  For the return trip, you can take the faster route along Texas 105 to Navasota and then Texas 6 to College Station.

Partial Species List

Pied-billed Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, American Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, Wood Stork, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Greater White-fronted Goose, Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Common Goldeneye, Mississippi Kite, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Red-shouldered Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Crested Caracara, American Kestrel, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Sandhill Crane, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Upland Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Common Snipe, Rock Dove, Mourning Dove, Inca Dove, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Barred Owl, Common Nighthawk, Chimney Swift, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Red-headed Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Alder Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, Couch's Kingbird, Eastern Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, White-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, American Crow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow, Purple Martin, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Bewick's Wren, House Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Bluebird, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, European Starling, American Pipit, Sprague's Pipit, Cedar Waxwing, Tennessee Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Northern Parula, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Pine Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart, Kentucky Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Wilson's Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Summer Tanager, Spotted Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Harris's Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal, Pyrrhuloxia, Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Painted Bunting, Dickcissel, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Common Grackle, Great-tailed Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Orchard Oriole, Baltimore Oriole, House Finch, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch and House Sparrow.  (128 species).

Location map of Washington-on-the-Brazos SHP

Trail map of Washington-on-the-Brazos SHP

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