The Texas side of Toledo Bend Lake has a number of birding sites identified as part of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail – Big Thicket Loop.. Only those sites that are in proximity to Toledo Bend Lake are identified here. Additionally, sites from the Great Texas Wildlife Trails – Prairies & Pineywoods East are listed as well as from the Deep East Texas Birding Guide. Additionally, we have sites from the Louisiana Red River Birding Trail – Loop 3.
Toledo Bend Lake Area Birding Checklist
For a comprehensive Toledo Bend Lake Area Birding Checklist – CLICK HERE In addition to the checklist, there are links to pictures of many of the birds on the Webmaster’s Gallery including many in-flight shots and sequences and lots more! The Webmaster’s Gallery includes some excellent shots of birds from around Toledo Bend Lake – especially the Bald Eagles – Osprey catching White Bass – and shots of a Hawk’s nest with the young, visit the Toledo Bend Gallery at Toledo-Bend.US
GTWT Site 37 – North Toledo Bend Wildlife Management Area:
From Center, travel east 13.4 miles on Hwy 7 to FM 2787. Go south on FM 2787 for 2.1 miles to FM 139. On FM 139 go south 2 miles to FM 2572. Go east 1.6 miles to entrance of the WMA. Bird watching is good throughout the year. During the summer look for Wood Duck, egrets, herons, Dickcissel, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Blue Grosbeak, as well as Indigo and Painted Buntings. Wood Stork, Sedge Wren, White-crowned Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow, and waterfowl such as Mallard, Wood Duck, Gadwalls, Widgeon, Pintail, Green and Blue-winged Teals, Scaup and Hooded Merganser are wintertime inhabitants. Prothonotary Warblers are springtime inhabitants of the area especially around Swede Johnson Lake. Other spring species include Red-eyed Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo, Northern Parula, Louisiana Water-thrush, Kentucky Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles and Summer Tanager.
DETBG Site 39 – SRA (#1) Swede Johnson Recreation Area:
From Hwy 87 in Shelbyville, turn onto FM 417 and follow FM 417 approximately 2.0 miles and veer right on FM 2694. Follow FM 2694 for 14.6 miles to the large sign on the right. Birds commonly seen along the shoreline of the cove include Little and Great Blue Herons, Snowy and Cattle Egrets, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Green Heron, and Belted Kingfisher. Ospreys and Bald Eagles are also occasionally seen.
Huxley Bay Marina is also close to other excellent birding spots (e.g. Haley’s Ferry – below) and offers something the others don’t – a good restaurant and accommodations! Not completely easy to find in tthis rural area.
GTWT Site 41 – Haley’s Ferry Recreation Area:
(click here for directions, description, pictures) A Red-cockaded Woodpecker cluster is located adjacent to the entrance road. The best opportunities to view these birds are at daybreak and early evenings, but please remember to minimize your disturbance. Resident pine forest species include Red-bellied, Red-cockaded, and Pileated Woodpeckers, Blue Jay, Carolina Chickadee, American Kestrel, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Pine Warbler, and Eastern Bluebird. During the summer Woodthrush, White-eyed Vireo, Blue Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, Hooded Warbler, American Redstart, Indigo and Painted Buntings, and Eastern Towhee occur quite regularly. Resident woodland species include Blue Jay, Red-eyed Vireo, Northern Parula, Arcadian Flycatcher, Gray Catbird, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Eastern Kingbird, Summer Tanager, Orchard Oriole, Yellow-throated Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, and Hooded Warbler. Brightly colored neo-tropical songbirds also migrate through this area during the spring and fall months.
Did you ever go out and notice there seems to be no birds? You don’t see one; you can’t hear one. Where are they? Well, from my visits here, I’d guess when you can’t find a bird, it’s because they came here! I’ve never seen and heard so many in a single spot at once… well, not counting seagulls and pigeons.
GTWT Site 42 – Ragtown Recreation Area:
(click here for directions, description, pictures) Look for Little and Great Blue Herons, various egrets, Yellow-crowned Night and Green Herons and Belted Kingfisher along the shoreline. In the forest, watch for Red-bellied, Red-cockaded, and Pileated Woodpeckers, Blue Jay, Carolina Chickadee, American Kestrel, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, and Pine Warbler. During summer, look for Woodthrush, White-eyed Vireo, Blue Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, Hooded Warbler, American Redstart, Indigo and Painted Buntings, and Eastern Towhee. The area also abounds with migrating neo-tropical songbirds during the spring and fall months.
DETBG Site 40 – Mill Creek / Center City Lake:
(click here for directions, description, pictures) From Center, Texas at the South Loop – junction US 96 / Loop 500 – take US 96 South 2 miles to county road CR1 – 1006. Turn East on CR1-1006 and go 1 mile to Center City Lake on South side of CR1-1006. Look for Great Blue Heron, Red-shouldered Hawk, and Red-bellied Woodpecker.
GTWT Site 43 – East Hamilton Boat Ramp:
(click here for directions, description, pictures) Look along the shorelines for various herons and egrets. In the winter, scan the lake for waterfowl and Bald Eagles. Resident pine forest species include Red-bellied, Downy, and Pileated Woodpeckers; Blue Jay; Carolina Chickadee, American Kestrel; Tufted Titmouse; Carolina Wren, Pine Warbler, and Eastern Bluebird. During the summer, Woodthrush, White-eyed Vireo, Blue Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, Hooded Warbler, American Redstart, Indigo and Painted Buntings, and Eastern Towhee occur quite regularly. Many colorful migratory songbirds travel through this area during the spring and fall months.
GTWT Site 44 / DETBG Site 26 – Red Hills Lake:
(click here for directions, description, pictures) Beautiful small lake is great for camping, picnicking and bird watching! Look for Loggerhead Shrike, Brown Thrasher, Northern Cardinal, Northern Mockingbird, Lark Sparrow, Common Grackle, Eastern Meadowlark, and Dickcissel. During winter months, look for White-crowned, Swamp, LeConte’s, Fox and Grasshopper Sparrows. Hiking either of the trails or making your own trail through the pine forest will expose species such as Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy and Pileated Woodpeckers, Mourning Dove, Eastern Wood-Peewee, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Carolina Wren and Brown-headed Nuthatch. Warbler species present include Yellow-throated, Pine, Swainson’s, Hooded, and Black-and-White Warblers. Red-eyed and White-eyed Vireos, Northern Parula, Blue Jay and American Crow also reside in the area.
GTWT Site 45 / DETBG Site 29 – Carrice Creek:
(pictures below) Located on the eastern end of the Carrice Creek Bridge over Carrice Creek on the Toledo Bend Reservoir, this rookery is alive with the sounds of nesting birds. The shallow waters support bald cypress, black willow, bays, and lotus pads. Birds such as Anhinga, Great Egret, Little Blue Heron, Green Heron, Cattle Egret, and Red-winged Blackbird nest and fledge their young here. The calls and cackles of these roosting birds bring the vegetation alive with sound and movement. Typically, early in the year Cormorants predominate and later the Egrets fill in for their nesting. After the nesting season is over, the site still provides excellent bird watching opportunities. Look for ducks in the winter and the occasional Bald Eagle. So bring binoculars and/or a camera with a zoom lens to get a picture of the captive audience during the nesting season. Also look for Osprey, Cattle Egret, Kingfisher, Great Blue Heron, Tri-colored Heron, Green Heron, and other wading birds.
Directions: From the junction of Texas 87 and Texas 21 (North of Hemphill, Texas) go East 6.2 miles. From the Pendleton Bridge (approximately middle of the lake) take Texas 21 (Highway 6 on the Louisiana side of the bridge) West 0.6 miles. There is a bridge and causeway over Carrice Creek. On the East side is a public boat launch facility courtesy of Texas Parks & Wildlife – this is the nearest point (on land) to the rookery.
To view a high-definition panorama of the rookery – CLICK HERE
DETBG Site 31 – Longleaf Pines Park:
(pictures below – For historic information, CLICK HERE) From Hemphill, Texas (jct. TX 184 / TX 87) go West on TX 184 for 4.7 miles to junction Texas FM 2024; the park / picnic area is on the West side of the intersection. Watch for Red-cockaded Woodpecker and other woodland species here in the Spring and Summer.
DETBG Site 27 – Moore Plantation – Moore Wildlife Management Area:
(pictures below) From Hemphill, Texas (jct. TX 184 / TX 87) go South on Texas 87 for 9.8 miles (3.9 mi. North of jct. Hwy 3315 / TX 87) to Six Mile Bridge. Six Mile Creek is at the South end of the bridge and there is a public boat launch facility. The area is excellent for wintering species. Look for Osprey, fresh water wading birds, Belted Kingfisher, and Bald Eagle in the Spring and Summer.
DETBG Site 30 – Fox Hunters Hill:
(pictures below) From Hemphill, Texas (jct. TX 184 / TX 87) go South on Texas 87 for 15.6 miles (0.9 mi. South of jct. Hwy 3315 / TX 87) to Forest Road 113 on East side of 87. FR113 winds 1.7 miles through the woods to an area suitable for parking where the road worsens as it turns to the left. The area is marked as an Endangered Species Colony for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. Also look for Bachman’s Sparrow, Pine Warbler, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Summer Tanager, and Pilieated Woodpecker.
GTCBT Site 05 / DETBG Site 21 – Canyon Rim Woodlands Trail:
(click here for directions, description, pictures) Louisiana Waterthrushes nest along the creek that flows through the bottom of the canyon, and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Yellow-throated and Red-eyed vireos, and Black-and-white Warblers are among the interesting woodland birds that may be found here.
DETBG Site 20 – SRA (#7) Sam Forse Collins Recreation Area:
(click here for directions, description, pictures) Bordered by woods and near the Toledo Bend Reservoir dam, this area attracts a number of species including Bald Eagles, Ospreys and in the Summer this is a good area to see the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.
GTCBT Site 04 / DETBG Site 20 – Toledo Bend Reservoir – Dam Area:
(click here for directions, description, pictures of State area by dam) From the Dam Observation Area birds may be seen that are not likely to be present elsewhere on the Loop. Various gulls such as Bonapartes and Franklins, Bald Eagles, Ospreys and various waterfowl have been seen here. In the Summer this is a good area to see the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.
GTCBT Site 03 / DETBG Site 19 – Wild Azalea Canyons:
Texas Highway US 190 at the Sabine River bridge (border with Louisiana). About .5 mile West of the bridge/river is an old section of the highway where parking is available. Swallow-tailed Kites may be seen floating above the woodlands bordering the Sabine River in the Spring and Summer.
Please note: the Texas marker sign for this site is about 1/4 mile down the road from this bridge – by another bridge where there is no parking and little oportunity to see anything.
The Sabine river is subject to considerable changes in height here. Aside from upstream rainfall, this is largely dependent on the toledo Bend Reservoir Dam and whether it is releasing water from the spillway gates (rare) or generating electricity at the dam (frequent). For generating schedules CLICK HERE
The following photos taken August, 2010. Toledo Bend Dam was not sending any water downstream beyone the normal, minimal “downstream flow”.
There is a driveway from the highway to a parking area. The driveway looks steeper than it really is… though it is pretty steep.