Where can I go to see birds around San Antonio?
Are you tired of seeing the same birds day in and day out in your backyard? Are you looking to expand your bird "Life List"? Maybe you just want to take a walk with your binoculars to "see what you can see". There are many birding locations spread around San Antonio. Keep in mind that hours of operation may be impacted due to COVID-19, so make sure you check first to see if and when they are open.
The San Antonio Audubon Society (saaudubon.org) has identified the following locations as birding sites around San Antonio.
BAMBERGER NATURE PARK & LEON CREEK GREENWAY
Both areas are in northwest San Antonio (inside Loop 1604 and west of IH-10). From 1604, exit at Babock and drive south about 1.6 miles to the Bamberger Nature Park lot on the left. From IH-10, exit at DeZavala and drive west about 1.75 miles to the light at Babcock, turn right and the Greenway parking lot is about 0.7 miles on the left. Oak trees and brush with some open areas attract many resident birds and migrants including warblers, tanagers, orioles, and flycatchers. Easy walking.
Bamberger Nature Park is located at 12401 Babcock Road, where Babcock crosses Leon Creek. Over 70 acres with paved walking trails.
The Buddy Calk Trailhead, the first completed phase of the Leon Creek Greenway, is across the road and a little south at 12160 Babcock. The parking area just east of the creek on Babcock provides trail access to the Earl Scott ("Oxbow") Pond area. Some areas can be muddy in wet weather, so wear appropriate footwear.
SAN ANTONIO BOTANICAL GARDEN
Located at N. New Braunfels & Funston (555 Funston Place), it covers 35 acres. The front part is ornamental gardens which are good for hummingbirds. The northeast part depicts some of the biotic regions of Texas. You should be able to find Long-billed Thrasher, Verdin and Bell's Vireos in season. The Bell's Vireos and Verdin have nested near the pair of adobe houses. Locate both by call. Verdin has a single, sharp, high pitched chip. Bell's Vireo asks a question with its call. This is a good migrant trap. The hilltop location gives a good view of the San Antonio River valley. The pond is a great place to find Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Wood Ducks, Green Heron, and Common Moorhen.
There is a very nice field trip to the garden on the third Saturday of each month with a leader from the SA Audubon Society. Visit the San Antonio Botanical Garden web site; phone (210)-821-5115. Click here to view, save, and/or print a nice map of the center. Easy walking
Avenue A, at the south end of Brackenridge Park (south of Mulberry), has become known for migrating passerines. Avenue A runs through the park across the San Antonio River from River Road. You can park on Ave A or River Road and walk. There is a footpath over the dam at the southern end of Ave A, so you can bird both sides of the river along both Avenue A and River Road. [Warning: If you park on Ave A, don't leave valuables in sight inside your vehicle.] The street runs along the west side of the Brackenridge Golf Course, and the logical northern extension goes up towards the San Antonio Zoo. Easy walking, Auto
San Antonio Zoo: Located at the north end of Brackenridge Park, 3903 N. St. Mary's. Has the same as above plus some native species in some of their walk-through areas. Yellow-crowned Night-Herons and Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks nest here. You can call the zoo at (210)-734-7184.
BRAUNIG LAKE (#3)
Braunig and Calaveras Lakes, managed by the S.A. River Authority, are warm-water outlets from power plants with some wetland habitat surrounded by Tamaulipan scrub habitat and some open grassland.
Victor Braunig Lake is in SE Bexar County, adjacent to IH 37 as one heads southeast towards Corpus Christi. The park entrance is about five miles SE of the intersection of IH 37 and Loop 410. From IH 37 south, take the Southton Road exit, go under IH 37 and travel south on this currently two-way access road to the park's entrance. The phone number for Braunig Lake is (210)-635-8259; 17500 Donop Road. There is an entrance fee at this park that is also good for the same day at Calaveras Lake (below). The brushy areas of the Braunig Lake park have a good selection of permanent resident birds, including Pyrrhuloxia, Cactus Wren, Curve-billed Thrasher, Greater Roadrunner, etc. Birders often find stray gulls on this lake in the fall and winter. Easy walking, Auto
Calaveras Lake is located in SE Bexar County. Take IH 37 south past the Loop 410 intersection. Take the Hwy 181 exit to Floresville (exits right, but loops over.) Proceed to Loop 1604 (Anderson Loop). Take 1604 north (left) to Stuart Road. Turn north (left) on Stuart and take the first left into the park. For more info, please call Calaveras Lake at (210)-635-8359; 12991 Bernhardt Road.
There is an entrance fee that is also good for the same day at Braunig Lake (above). The northern parts of the park get less public impact. Look for Marsh Wrens, Swamp and Lincoln Sparrows and Common Yellowthroats in the reeds along the lake. Also keep an eye out for Bittern in the reeds. Osprey and American White Pelicans are common on the lake. In the winter, this is a good place to find out-of-range Gulls. The scrubby areas along the roads are good for Common Ground-Dove, Pyrrhuloxia, Bewick's Wrens, and Sparrows. Easy walking, Auto
COMANCHE LOOKOUT PARK
Off Nacogdoches Road (FM 2252) north of Judson Road in NE San Antonio, inside Loop 1604. This new park has good trails with varying habitat and a good variety of migrants, besides a great view all around. No facilities. Hiking
CONVERSE NORTH PARK
Directions to the park are similar to those for Live Oak City Park. Take I-35 north towards Austin from Loop 410, exit to Judson Road, and turn right at the first stop sign after you get off of IH-35. After about a mile, Judson Road joins with Topperwein to become Topperwein. You will see signs for the Live Oak City Park, but continue on Topperwein past Kitty Hawk and take a right at Windburn Trail. The first or second street on left is Balance Rock, take this street and as it turns to the right it becomes Springtown. Stay on Springtown and it will run into the park. There are restrooms at the parking lot. Local police patrol the park.
Birding the park can include difficult walking, especially in wet weather with lots of mud. Wear appropriate footwear. Habitat includes a pond, dam, and open and wooded areas. Check the Purple Martin houses near the parking lot during the season. This would be a good park in Spring for migrants, and you may want to bird it together with Live Oak Park on the same day, as they are near each other.
CRESCENT BEND NATURE PARK
This Bexar county-owned park is managed by the city of Schertz and is located on Schaeffer Road just on the south side of Cibolo Creek. Once a trailer park, recent hundred year floods proved the land uninhabitable. The county purchased the park through available funds from FEMA. Further information and news can be obtained on the park website.
From I-10 east, go to 1518 and turn north and go to Schaeffer Road where there is a brown sign to the park. Go 3 miles to the park on the left just before the road crosses Cibolo Creek
Alternatively, from the entrance to Randolph AFB on FM 78, continue east on FM78 to 1518 on the edge of the AFB and turn right. Go to the brown sign for the park and turn left. Go 3 miles to the park on the left. Easy Walking
CROWNRIDGE CANYON NATURAL AREA
Newly-opened, March 2006. This is a 207-acre nature park (no pets allowed) with a trailhead at the parking lot. Most trails are gentler climbs than nearby Friedrich Park or than Eisenhower Park in town. The main trail (1.3 miles) is a wide, paved one; at the high point of the main trail is rough nature trail (.5 mile), a little more challenging. SAAS birders have already found Bushtit here, and expect Golden-cheeked Warblers to be vocal during breeding season as in Friedrich. Turkeys roam the area, too.
Northwest of San Antonio, outside of Loop 1604:
--On Babcock Road (from 1604), go north about 2.5 miles to Luskey. Turn right onto Luskey and go about half a mile to the park on your left.
--When accessing by IH-10, take the Camp Bullis Road exit. Turn left onto Camp Bullis Road, continue straight (west) for 1.5 miles then turn right on Luskey for 4 miles to the park entrance on the right.
Rest rooms, water fountain. 7222 Luskey Boulevard. Easy walking, Hiking
DENMAN ESTATE PARK
Located at 7735 Mockingbird Lane. This shady park has fine walking trails, a pond, and a Korean pavilion. There are no restroom facilities at this park.
From outbound I-10. Exit to Callaghan and go left one block to Horizon Hill Blvd. Turn right on Horizon Hill Blvd .Go to Mockingbird Lane and turn left to the park on your right. From Fredericksburg Rd at Callaghan proceed to Mockingbird Lane and turn right and follow the road around to the park on your left.
Located on the northwest side of town 1.1 miles outside of Loop 1604 on NW Military Hwy (19399 NW Military Hwy). The park entrance is on the left before the US Army Camp Bullis entrance. The Dwight D. Eisenhower Natural Area Park was formerly part of Camp Bullis, a training ground for the US Army. It was opened to the public in 1988 with a 5-mile trail system of varying difficulties, an overlook tower on the high point at the rear of the property, restrooms, picnic areas, some primitive camping, and a large reservable pavilion. The park covers over 300 acres. A large signboard at the trailhead shows all the trails.
The area is mostly dry and rocky with cedar (Ashe Jumiper), scrubby oak and Texas Mountain Laurel. Black-crested Titmouse, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Western Scrub-Jay, Spotted Towhee, Dark-eyed Junco, Rufous-crowned, Field and Chipping Sparrows, and Bewick's and Canyon Wrens can be found here.
The best walk for birds is the Hillview Trail up along the south fence, a grassy old road, and back down the paved trail. Listen for the Canyon Wrens in the quarry across the fence. The Scrub-Jays are most easily found near the big trailhead sign and the childrens' playground behind the picnic tables. Easy walking, hiking
EL DORADO PONDS, AKA "GOLDEN POND"
These two small ponds are in Northeast San Antonio on Beitel Creek, accessible to birders thanks to the El Dorado Subdivision homeowner's association, which cares for the area. This is PRIVATE PROPERTY and privileged visitors should act accordingly.
From the intersection of Nacogdoches Road and Thousand Oaks, go northeast on Nacogdoches (away from the city). Take a right turn (to the east) on Leonhardt Road.* Stay on Leonhardt past the dam which you will see on the left. Turn left on El Arroyo, then an immediate left on Linda Colonia, and park in the cul-de-sac. Walk along the lower pond on the right side to get to the upper pond. Wintering ducks, egrets and herons, and Red-shoulder Hawks; warblers in the Spring; songbirds year-round.
*From Loop 1604 in NE San Antonio, take Nacogdoches Road (FM 2252) southwest, past the intersection of O'Connor Road. Turn left on Leonhardt Road and proceed as above. Easy walking
Small ponds on Post Oak Creek in southwest Bexar County. Depending on the water level, this can be a good place for shorebirds and ducks in the winter. Also good for sparrows. This is private property and must be viewed from the road.
--From Loop 410 (between I-35 to Laredo and TX 16 to Poteet), turn south on Somerset Road (Rt.2790). After you cross the Medina River, turn right on Von Ormy Road, and then left on South Evans Road to the ponds on your left. Park carefully off the road. Evans Road continues on to meet Somerset Road again.
--From Loop 1604 in Somerset, turn north onto Somerset Road, drive about 2 miles and then left onto South Evans Road, and the ponds will be on your right. Easy walking, Auto
FRIEDRICH WILDERNESS PARK
The most accessible place in Bexar County to see Golden-cheeked Warblers. Located on 233 acres in NW Bexar County, the Emilie and Albert Friedrich Wilderness Park is about 15 miles from downtown San Antonio. Take I-10 west to the Camp Bullis Road exit. Go across the freeway, and turn right onto the west-side access road. Go north for about 1 mile and follow the signs to Friedrich Park. Expect trails to be steep and rocky. Friedrich park is open 7 days a week. Their number is (210)-698-1057; 21395 Milsa.
Blue-gray Gnatcatchers have bred there and Western Scrub-Jays are resident. In many ways, the parking lot is the most birdy because it has the most diversity of habitat. Look for Painted Bunting and Lesser Goldfinch. At present, Black-capped Vireos do not nest here. Golden-cheeks are quite vocal from mid-March to mid-May. Although they are present through early July, they become increasingly quieter as their nestlings progress. The young in the "brancher" stage look for all in the world like a fat, dumpy Verdin. As they get older, they start to look like scruffy adults as they molt into adult plumage. By the time the young leave for the tropics, they are hard to distinguish from adults.
Don't miss the water hole and bench at the windmill on the Water Trail. Pick up a map at the sign-in place just before the trails. Easy walking, hiking
GOVERNMENT CANYON STATE NATURAL AREA
Government Canyon is located in northwest Bexar County. Avian species of special interest there include the endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler, Black-capped Vireo, Common Raven, Canyon Wren, Canyon Towhee, Scott's Oriole, Black-throated Sparrow, Turkey, and Roadrunner. The area is huge and has many trails of varying degrees of difficulty; wear appropriate clothing and footwear and bring water. With a visitor's center, educational exhibit and store; $6 per day, per person 13 and older, or use your TX State Parks Pass.
From the TPWD web site, January 2006: "Schedule: Day use only. No camping or overnight use is allowed. Open Friday-Monday and closed Tuesday-Thursday. The front gate is open from 8AM-6PM. Access to all Backcountry trails is closed at 4PM, access to all Front country trails is closed at 5PM. The Protected Habitat Area trails are currently closed. All other trails are open. Currently there is no Equestrian access pending further trail work to allow safe access. Contact the natural area for more information prior to arrival at site as trails may be closed due to inclement weather or poor trail conditions."
From Loop 1604, go 3.5 miles west on FM 471 (which was Culebra Road) to Galm Road and turn right (north) for about 1.5 miles, to the entrance at 12861 Galm Rd. Info: (210)-688-9055. Texas Parks and Wildlife has a website - http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/government_canyon/ with more information, including a new trail map. Hiking
PHIL HARDBERGER PARK
This 311-acre park is an oasis in a heavily developed part of north central San Antonio. Wurzbach Parkway divides the park into two sections with entrances at 13203 Blanco Road and 8400 NW Military Hwy. Amenities in both sections include playgrounds, dog parks, picnic tables, water fountains and restrooms.
Much of this park remains undeveloped with extensive trail systems on both sides providing access to a variety of habitat including restored savannas, wooded areas and open fields with lots of edge. The restored savannas on the NW Military side have attracted a good variety of winter sparrows. Migrating and winter warblers are seen in the wooded areas. There are a number of year-round residents and summer residents as well. Over 145 species have been seen in the park.
The Urban Ecology Center on the NW Military side and Salado Classroom on the Blanco side are good places to start birding walks. A Bird Water Feature with bird blind near the Salado Classroom provides a dependable source of water for birds and was initiated and partially funded by SAAS.
JUDSON NATURE TRAILS, OLMOS PARK
Located in Alamo Heights at the intersection of Viesca and Greely, the San Antonio Audubon Society maintains this area and has their Beginners' Bird Walk here on the second Saturday of each month. From the 5900 block of Broadway, turn west on Ogden near Cambridge Elementary School, proceed west to Greely, turn south (left) one block to Viesca, then right to the parking lot on the left.
The improved trails are good for warblers during migration. During the winter, you can expect to find Hermit Thrush, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, White-throated and Lincoln's Sparrows, and Wood Duck. Winter Wren and Brown Creeper can be found here in the winter, but they are a bit more unusual. Barred Owls and Red-shouldered Hawks nest in and around the trails and can be found there year-round.
Across Jones Maltsberger is Olmos Park, which will have many of the same birds as above. Lesser Goldfinches are more common here. The back side of the baseball field on the north side of Alamo Heights Blvd quite often produces Verdin and Long-billed Thrasher. The fields west of US 281 opposite Olmos Park and south of the Olmos Golf Course have been good for Painted Buntings, Western Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, and other birds typical of grassy, weedy fields. Easy walking
LIVE OAK CITY PARK
This park has open areas, a lake, and woods yielding a wide variety of species. Take IH 35 north towards Austin from Loop 410, exit to Judson Road, and turn right at the first stop sign after you get off of IH 35. Judson Road becomes Toepperwein towards Randolph AFB. At the traffic light at Leafy Hollow Street, turn left. Go to the end of the street which then turns right and becomes the park road. Go to the end of the park road to parking lot. Restrooms are located next to the playground. Easy walking
13102 Jones Maltsberger Road, north of Starcrest and the Police Station. Formerly the Northeast Preserve, this area now has improved trails and a variety of habitat, and a second entrance off west-bound Starcrest north of the SA International Airport. Restrooms and many picnic areas. Easy walking
MEDINA RIVER PARK
15960 Hwy 16 South. This newly-opened (April 2005) park is part of the old Applewhite Reservoir site and is fast proving a good birding spot. Open from 7:30 AM until Sundown daily.
--From Loop 410, drive 4.2 miles south on Hwy 16; the park entrance is on the East (left) side just before the Medina River bridge.
--Coming north on Hwy 16 from Loop 1604, the entrance is on the right just across the bridge.
Trails of varying difficulty through a nice natural area and along the river. Easy walking, Hiking
MILLER'S POND PARK
Less than a mile inside Loop 410 in the 6000 block of Pearsall Road in southwest San Antonio, this park has a good trail surrounding a pond with a variety of birds to be found. Easy walking
MISSION SAN JUAN AND ESPADA DAM
This area along the San Antonio River is within the National Park Service's San Antonio Missions National Historical Park along with the 255-year-old, still functioning, Espada Acequia. Resident birds include herons, egrets, Wood Ducks, owls, and woodpeckers among others. The riparian vegetation provides habitat for migrating warblers and flycatchers. Maps and more info are available on the park's web site - http://www.nps.gov/saan/index.htm.
MITCHELL LAKE AUDUBON CENTER
Mitchell Lake is located at 10750 Pleasanton Road on the south side of San Antonio. Take Loop 410 to Exit 46, Moursund Blvd. Take Moursund Blvd. south, away from the center of San Antonio, 7/10 mile to the gate on the left, immediately south of where Pleasanton Road enters Moursund at a sharp angle from the left.
Check the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center web page - https://mitchelllake.audubon.org/ from Texas Audubon, which now manages the refuge for the National Audubon Society. Call the Center at 210-628-1639. They are open on Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM; other hours can be arranged. Field trips are being scheduled.
The complex has a mixture of brushland, grassland, mud flats, shallow ponds, deep ponds, and a deep water lake. In summer, expect to see Crested Carcara, Harris's Hawk, Black-necked Stilt, Inca, White-winged, and Mourning Dove and Common Ground-dove, Cave, Cliff and Barn Swallows, one or more species of ducks, warblers, both night-herons, several species of herons and shore birds. Neotropic Cormorant will be here. Least Grebes nest here in wet years. It would not be surprising to see a Roseate Spoonbill here. Groove-billed Anis have nested in July at numerous places in the polder-decant basin area. A number of species have been seen here only after hurricanes.
The San Antonio Audubon Society has had a regularly-scheduled field trip here on the fourth Saturday of each month, open to the public. Meet the leader at the gate at 8:00 a.m sharp; the gate is locked behind us. The area is famous for the shorebirds that can be seen on its mud flats. This is especially true in winter and during spring and fall migration. Mitchell Lake has taught us that spring migration lasts until early June, and that fall migration starts in mid-late July. Summer heat and sun can be brutal at Mitchell Lake. Plan accordingly and bring water, hat, sunscreen, and bug spray.
OP SCHNABEL PARK
Entrance is at 9600 Bandera Road (TX 16) opposite Braun Road. Several different habitats, 4.5 miles of walking trails of various difficulty levels, and access to French Creek and Leon Creek provide opportunities to find a variety of native species most of the year. Restrooms, playground, and pavilion. Spotted Towhee, Hermit Thrush, Roadrunner, Western Scrub-Jay, warblers and sparrows in season. Easy walking, hiking
Susan and Don Schaezler welcome visitors to their 126-acre property near Cibolo, northeast of San Antonio. Wooded and open areas and water features attract many species. This is especially good for Spring warblers. Long-billed and Curved-billed Thrashers are residents, and many sparrows and raptors are seen here. Relaxing atmosphere, walking or sitting. Contact Susan at [email protected] for directions. Aerial view and bird list at - www.warblerwoods.com. Easy walking
SOUTHSIDE LIONS PARK ("PECAN VALLEY PARK")
Located on the near southeast side of San Antonio, Southside Lions Park includes a variety of habitats. A small lake, the Salado Creek wooded streamside, a dry thicket, some open land, and an adjacent cemetery provide habitat for many different birds. The Salado Creek on the east has been home for Golden-fronted, Ladder-backed, and occasionally a Red-bellied Woodpecker, with Downy Woodpecker and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in season. Flycatchers, phoebes, goldfinches and warblers of various kinds are found along the streamsides and in the tops of these old trees. The small lake has ducks in winter in a small enough area to see them well. The upper stream leading into it often has egrets and herons in season. The thicket in the north portion is good thrasher and warbler habitat in season. Easy walking, auto
To get to the park, leave IH 37 southbound at the Pecan Valley exit. Turn left and go northeast on Pecan Valley Drive one half (.5) mile past Southcross Blvd and the golf course to the park entrance on the right (the park itself is on both sides of the road). Enter and take the road to the right around the lake. This is the most heavily-birded portion, although there is more across the creek and to the west across Pecan Valley Drive.
TOM SLICK PARK
7400 Hwy 151. Formerly a part of Southwest Research Institute but now cut off by Highway 151, the best area in this park for birding is reached from the south entrance. From Loop 410 west, exit east to Marbach Road. Take the northbound 410 access road to Timbercreek Street. Turn right and go almost a mile to small parking area on left. A gravel path encircles a quarry pond and travels through woods. The ball fields and a larger parking area are reached off Highway151. Easy walking
WALKER RANCH HISTORIC LANDMARK PARK
12603 West Avenue between Salado Creek and Panther Springs Creek, just north of Nakoma Drive; hours 6 AM to 10 PM. About 1.5 miles of paved and natural-surfaced trails. Good in all seasons. Restrooms and playground. Easy walking
WESTERN BEXAR COUNTY - MECHLER & JUNGMAN ROADS
An easy drive from town and on the northern edge of the brush country, this is a good spot for winter birds of open, plowed fields and fencerows. Burrowing Owl has been regular here, as have American Pipits, Mountain Plovers, and longspurs. Watch for Merlins among the ubiquitous American Kestrels, along with Say's Phoebe, Horned Larks, Vesper and Savannah Sparrow, and Brewer's Blackbirds.
Drive west on US 90 to just before the Medina County line and turn left on Mechler Road. One landmark has been an irrigation pump on the east side of Mechler Road, approx. 2 miles south of US 90, covered with a blue/green tarp. Loop: At the end of Mechler, turn left on Gross Lane, which ends at the Macdona Lacoste Road. Turn left and then left again onto Jungman Road, which will return to US 90. NOTE: These are county roads with private property on all sides. Auto
WOODLAWN LAKE PARK
1103 Cincinnati. This city park just northwest of downtown includes a good-sized lake that attracts waterfowl, including both domestic and wild geese, ducks, cormorants, herons and egrets. The road that surrounds the park is Josephine Tobin Drive.
--From I-10 East (coming toward downtown from Loop 410), exit at Fredericksburg/Woodlawn. Turn right/west on Woodlawn, go through the light at Zarzamora, and take a left on South Josephine Tobin Drive to the parking area on the west side of the lake (opposite end from the pool).
--From I-10 West (coming from downtown), exit at Cincinnati and go left/west. Cincinnati turns into South Josephine Tobin Drive. Follow it around to the parking area. Restrooms, picnic areas, walking track. Easy walking