-Education Center with restrooms, bird feeders out back.
About the Location
This artificial, man-made wetland is kept full by pumps moving water from the Bosque River to the designated wetlands area. It was created in 2001, after the Waco city council voted to raise the water level of Lake Waco by 7 feet. The wetlands serves as mitigation for lost lakeside habitat that was lost when the water levels rose.
When you first drive in and park you’ll see the education center building. It features educational nature displays, bathrooms, and drinking fountains. Hours are 8am – 4pm Monday through Friday, and some Saturdays. Staff are usually available to answer questions.
Main features of the property include several observation points near and along several boardwalks. Walking paths along the edge of the wetlands are kept mowed in warmer months.
Habitat includes open marshes sometimes bordering wooded areas, and lowland hardwood forest.
First look for birds behind the education center since they keep bird feeders there, so there’s always some activity.
The sloping sidewalk leading down from the education center to the wetlands area is surrounded by some larger hardwoods. This short stretch is an easy place to pick up a few woodland passerines like wrens, titmice, chickadees, and depending on these season you may find Summer Tanager, Great Crested Flycatcher, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and Blue-headed Vireo.
The sidewalk ends at a small overlook platform. This is the best panoramic view of the wetlands. Feel free to scan for incoming herons or ducks flying in, or soaring hawks and vultures.
Take the steps down and make a right. This will take you to the boardwalk area where you can explore the marshes close up.
After you’ve birded the boardwalk area you can either continue down to keep exploring the more open wetlands, or head back the way you came and explore the northern half of the property, which is more wooded than the southern half.
The outer loop circles all the way around the property, so you’ll end up back near the education center either way. It’s just a matter of how much walking you feel like doing and how much time you have. Birding your way around the entire property will likely take 2+ hours.
Other Important Info
These shallow wetlands are susceptible to drought and may go dry during hot periods without rain. Also, if the water pumps on the river get clogged or covered with mud then the water levels may temporarily drop until the mud can be cleared with heavy machinery.
Neither are regular occurrences, but check before you go if driving from out of town. Conditions are sometimes posted on their Facebook page.