Bird Watch Structure
Each year millions of birds migrate between wintering grounds in Central and South America and summer nesting sites throughout the U.S. and Canada. Because of its location on these migratory routes, Texas is home to over 600 bird species, more than any other state. And San Antonio is positioned as the gateway to birding in South Texas, where the lower Rio Grande Valley hosts a variety of Mexican birds. With its key position along this Central Flyway of migrating birds, the South Texas region of the Texas Native Trail now features the Bird Watch, perfect for unobtrusive bird watching. Its mirrored glass front gives visitors a one-way glimpse of birdlife up close and personal.
Completed in 2010, the handsome new building, easy on the eye in its South Texas landscape, sits amidst an expanding native plant collection that complements the habitat needs of migrating birds. Built like a South Texas holding pen for cattle, the one-room observatory offers bench seating, viewing portholes, and fans overhead to cool visitors. Fed by a roof cistern collecting rainwater, a shallow trough in front of the Bird Watch attracts its feathered visitors with the sound of dripping water. Just deep enough for wading, the birds can take a long cool sip or linger for a refreshing splash. Over 200 species of birds have been sighted at the Garden, considered an excellent place for beginners to learn about birding.
Native plants complement the setting, attracting birds year-round. When compiling the plant list, careful consideration was given to the seasons. Maximilian sunflowers and salvia will attract the lesser goldfinches in summer. In wintertime, berry-producing selections include the Barbados cherry, Turk’s cap, possumhaw, and yaupon holly. Another planting is the Texas ebony, a favorite of the Long-billed Thrasher. Other frequent feathered guests include the Painted Bunting, Black chinned Hummingbird, the White-throated Sparrow, the Orangecrowned Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and Purple Martin.