Over 200 birding species have been identified in Bandera County. Excellent public birding opportunities are available in Hill Country State Natural Area, Bandera City Park and Lost Maples State Natural Area.
Rarely found elsewhere in Texas, the majestic Big Tooth Maple is preserved in the 2,200 acre Lost Maples State Natural Area in northwestern Bandera County. Each autumn, the park bursts into a myriad of shimmering colors. Radiant reds, luscious lemons and glorious golds delight hikers, picnickers and photographers.
Private facilities offer a wide range of nature viewing opportunities. Over twenty wildlife viewing sites in Bandera County are identified on the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department's "Heart of Texas Wildlife Trail West" map. This colorful map can be ordered online at tcebookstore.org or by calling 888-900-2577. Information about wildlife trails in Texas can be found here.
This 25-acre tract on Evans Creek has three guest cabins, catch and release fishing for bass and catfish, and a swimming hole. Primarily oak/juniper woodland, there are also black walnut, and giant cypress along the creek bottom. Look for dragonflies along the creek and birds such as Greater Roadrunner, Yellow-throated Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, Bell's Vireo, and Scrub Jay.
BANDERA CITY PARK Bandera, TX 78003
From the intersection of Main Street (FM 173) and Cypress Street (Hwy 16) in Bandera, go south on FM 173 for 1 block. Turn right on Maple Street. Park entrance is on left. In addition to beautiful cypress-lined banks along the Medina River, this site includes a 0.5 mile Native Plant Trail where you can see a variety of plants, including hackberry, live oak, wild grape, juniper, switchgrass, twist-leaf yucca and mealy sage. Deer can also be seen in the park and butterflies congregate along the riverside. Birds to look for include Yellow-throated Warbler, Summer Tanager, and Yellow-throated Vireo.
Large drive thru Christmas lights display Thanksgiving to January 1 by the Bandera Business Association.
Open 7 days a week, 8 AM - Sunset (30 minutes before dark). Fee on weekends and holidays.
This beautiful 125 acre property contains oak/juniper woodlands and nesting Golden Cheek Warblers. Bear Springs has a 127 species plant list that includes green lily, milkwort, bladderpod, fragrant mimosa, twist-leaf yucca, bear grass, shin and Lacy oaks, Texas madrone, mountain laurel, buckthorn, gum bumelia, black cherry, cedar sage, and evergreen sumac. Butterflies abound, including Sleepy Oranges, Carolina Satyr, Questionmark, Variegated Fritillary, and Pipevine Swallowtail. Singing Canyon Wrens and chirping Ash-throated Flycatchers serenade throughout the property. Guided tours by the Preservation Group are available. The main trail is wheelchair accessible and steeper canyon trails wind throughout the property. Call for directions.
CLINE RANCH 830-612-2013
Cline's 800 acres consists of wooded slopes, meadows, and limestone bluffs. Its rolling Hill Country woodlands are vegetated with black walnut, a variety of oaks, mountain laurel, redbud, buckeye, agarita, and juniper. Grassy meadows are full of spring wildflowers that attract hawk moths and butterflies, including Checkered White, Black and Pipevine Swallowtails, Variegated Fritillary, Sleepy Orange and Fiery Skipper. Birds include Summer Tanager, Blue Grosbeak, House Finch, Field Sparrows and Painted Buntings. Guided tours and primitive camping are available.
This 56-acre tract provides unique, dramatic views of giant cypress along the bottom of Evans Creek, as well as a wooded trail that follows Mills Creek. Golden-cheeked Warblers nest on the property, and oak/juniper/maple bottoms provide excellent habitat for a variety of birds. The property also provides habitat for the endangered tobusch fishhook cactus. Lodging available at a guesthouse on the creek.
EAGLE ROCK TRAIL
Eagle Rock is on private land, but can be viewed from along the roadside. Raptors and ravens nest in the crevices on the cliff face. Golden Eagle and Bald Eagle have both been seen here, as well as other locally common raptors such as Red-tailed Hawk. Mickle Creek Road is a regular route for local birders, with habitats that support a variety of sparrows, grosbeaks, orioles, buntings, and other songbirds. Located on FM 2107 outside Medina.
This magnificent 10,000-acre ranch offers guided nature hikes throughout the various habitats. Black-chinned Hummingbird, Northern Oriole, Ash-throated and Vermillion Flycatchers are several of the bird species found here. Lakes, spring-fed creeks, grassy pastures, rocky draws and oak-juniper woodlands provide a diverse environment for wildlife viewing. Call for directions.
FM 337 SWALLOW COLONY AND OVERLOOK
The scenic overlooks on FM 337 have paved pull-outs and are excellent spots to photograph the river valley and to scan for cruising raptors such as the Zone-tailed Hawk. Cliff Swallows are distinguished by their pale buff foreheads and chestnut breasts. Do not approach the Cliff Swallow colony too closely as the birds are easily disturbed by humans.
This 5-acre property on the Sabinal River has scenic views of the river and birds such as Green Kingfisher, Belted Kingfisher, Cave Swallows, White-eyed Vireo, Wild Turkey, Whip-poor-will, Chuck's-will's-widow, owls, and bats. The thickets along the river attract a variety of birds during Spring migration.
With 275 acres of meadows, riparian thickets, and wooded limestone slopes, Hill Country Equestrian Lodge offers fully equipped, attractive private cabins and suites for guests. The slope vegetation includes Juniper, Oak, Mesquite, Agarita, and other low shrubs. A stream provides water for songbirds and habitat for butterflies and dragonflies. Birds include Vermilion and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Cave Swallows, Dickcissels, Field Larks, and Grasshopper Sparrows, Blue Grosbeaks, Painted Buntings, and Wild Turkeys.
The park will be closed on the following dates in November, December, and January....
*From 10 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 30 until noon on Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014
*From 10 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 7 until noon on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014
*From 10 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 11 until noon on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015
*From 10 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 18 until noon on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015
The closure is for wildlife management activities. Only drawn permitted hunters will be allowed in during these dates.
The Hill Country SNA comprises 5400 scenic acres of rocky hills, flowing springs, oak groves, grasslands, and canyons crisscrossed by 36 miles of multi-use trails open to backpacking, horseback riding, and mountain bicycling. The terrain ranges from flat, broad creek bottoms to steep, rocky canyons up to 1900 feet in elevation. Exploring the park by horseback is an excellent way to view wildlife, and ranches adjacent to the park offer guided tours of the area (contact the Bandera Visitors and Convention Bureau at 800-364-3833 for more information). During spring the wildflowers such as golden dalea, thistle. prickly pear, skelton-plant, monarda, Mexican hat, and many yellow composites line the road and fill the meadows, providing nectar for an array of butterflies. Blackcapped Vireos and Golden-cheeked Warblers nest here. The open meadows along the entrance road are home to nesting Dickcissels, as well as Grasshopper and Lark Sparrows. Vermilion and Ash-throated Flycatchers hunt the live oaks around the headquarters. Woodland edge provides views of many songbirds including Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Eastern Wood Pewee, Bewick's Wren, White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-breasted Chat, Summer Tanager, Indigo Bunting, and Lesser Goldfinch. Deer, armadillos, raccoons, ringtails, and rabbits as well as various rodents and reptiles are also commonly seen.
LONESOME HILLS RANCH 830-589-2379
This 400-acre ranch has an impressive variety of plants, including bigtooth maple, smoke-tree, black cherry, buckeye, linden, sycamore, and a number of rare plants. Mountaintop trails give panoramic vistas of the surrounding Hill Country. A variety of water habitats, including lake, creeks, seeps, and springs produce an excellent diversity of aquatic insects and amphibians. Butterflies abound on the property. Golden-cheeked Warblers nest in the deep wooded canyons, and habitat restoration for Black-capped Vireos has successfully brought these birds to the ranch. Call for directions.
This is one of the premier wildlife viewing destinations in Texas. Lost Maples covers more than 2,100 acres and is an outstanding example of Edwards Plateau flora and fauna. Habitats include steep, rugged limestone canyons, springs, plateau grasslands, wooded slopes, and clear streams. The park provides habitat for two rare songbirds that nest in central Texas: the golden-cheeked Warbler and the Black-capped Vireo. Other birds include the Zone-tailed Hawk and the Green Kingfisher. The Sabinal River cuts through the park and provides excellent viewing for birds and other wildlife. Eleven miles of trails lead visitors into stands of black cherry, sycamore, pecan, Spanish oak, hackberry and walnut trees. The park also features a large stand of uncommon bigtooth maple, whose fall foliage can be spectacular. Generally, fall foliage changes the last two weeks of October through the first week of November.
MEDINA GARDEN NURSEY 830-589-2771
This 14-acre nursery and garden is an excellent site for butterflies. In late summer, the bottomlands along the Medina River are covered with cowpen daisies, which attract large numbers of butterflies. Monarchs migrate through mid to late October, covering the trees by the thousands. A variety of birds can be seen in the pecan bottomlands along the river. Call for directions
SEVEN H RANCH 830-966-3782
This 700 acre ranch has a great diversity of plants and wildlife typical of the Texas Hill Country. Habitats include relatively flat grasslands with scattered oaks and juniper, steep slopes and canyons, springs and seeps, high ridges over 2000 ft. in elevation. Spring-fed ponds provide year round water for wildlife and good wildlife viewing and photography opportunities at nearby blinds. Miles of guided hiking trails allow visitors to experience cool, lush canyons and high rocky ridges overlooking a picturesque valley. Activities include guided tours, camping, backpacking, horseback riding, and customized weekend packages.
This 1400-acre preserve contains some of the most pristine privately owned land in the Hill Country. The habitat contains rich juniper/oak woodland as well as an impressive diversity of hardwoods along Love Creek. The 4.5 mile loop trail through the preserve offers visitors an opportunity to see numerous springs and seeps, a beautiful stand of bigtooth maples, and a nesting pair of Zone-tailed Hawks. The full Hill Country complement of woodland birds and wildlife are found here, and dense stands of old-growth juniper make it particularly attractive to nesting Golden-cheeked Warblers. Visits must be scheduled in advance, and all tours are guided.
TRAILS END RANCH 830-589-2935
This 7200-acre ranch provides guided wildlife tours of multiple Hill Country habitats that include lake, river, stands of live oak, and old-growth juniper/oak woodlands. This large ranch comprises a great diversity of habitats and species. Prehistoric tracks along the riverbed add another element of interest to the site. Exotic animals available for viewing on the ranch include Red Kangaroo, Pere-David's Deer (extinct in its native habitat in China), the endangered Barasinga, Zebra, Oryx, Axis Deer, and Blackbuck Antelope. The ranch offers specialized wildlife tours as well as hiking trails.
The 230 acre ranch with direct access to the Hill Country State Natural Area focusing on outdoor activities like bird watching, nature watching, hiking, mountain biking or trail running. Local birds such as Bewick's Wren, Summer Tanager, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Vermilion and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, painting Buntings, Black-capped Vireos, Golden-cheeked Warbler and nesting birds of prey are easily seen here. West 1077 offers a self-guided trail system, guided walking tours, swimming, a catch-and-release pond as well as occasional seminars for the nature and outdoor sports enthusiast.