Trinity River Audubon Center

eBird Link
Trinity River Audubon Center’s Website

Highlights:
-Well kept gravel trails and boardwalks
-Mix of riparian woodlands, wetlands, and grasslands
-Beautiful headquarters building with quality educational displays

Trail Length:
-5 total miles of interlinked trails

The Location

The Trinity River Audubon Center is a 120 acre nature preserve immediately adjacent to the Trinity River southeast of downtown Dallas. The property has an interesting history and is a wonderful case of what once seemed like a lost cause being given new life. Read more about its story under “Interesting Notes” at the bottom of this page.

For birders, this nature center offers access to quality habitat within a mostly urban area.

Many amenities are available including bathrooms, drinking fountains, picnic tables, a gift shop, and an indoor café.

Birding Recommendations

Although 5 miles of trail length is available, only about 1.5 miles are needed to adequately cover the major habitat types. From the headquarters building the main trails either lead downhill toward the Trinity River, or uphill through the small wetlands and into the grasslands. Birding the grasslands first may be wise since bird activity may decrease here first with the rising sun, but weather conditions and target species should also influence your strategy.

Most of the wetlands area is adjacent to the headquarters building, while a few ponds are located farther out on the grassland trails. In winter months expect good numbers of sparrows. Ducks can be easily seen if you arrive near opening time so they haven’t been spooked off by other visitors yet. The grasslands are also a good place to pick up soaring and hunting raptors.

Once you head toward the rear of the Headquarters building, toward the woodlands and the river, keep your ears open as Belted Kingfishers are sometimes more easily heard than seen here. Listen for birds rustling in the understory along the trails so you don’t walk right past them.

The overlook on the Trinity River can be a good spot to watch for flyby ducks or kingfishers. You’ll likely also see flyover woodpeckers and Red-shouldered Hawks here.

Other Important Info

Admission is $6 for those over 12 years old. The 3rd Thursday of every month is free admission.

Hours:
Weekdays: 9am – 4pm
Saturdays: 7am – 3pm
Sundays: 11am – 5pm

Interesting Notes

Decades before the bird sanctuary opened, this property was the site of a large illegal dumping operation. Because it occurred in a low income and predominately black neighborhood, was largely ignored by city officials and law enforcement. At least two large fires occurred, one of which burned continuously for 6 months, releasing toxic chemicals, smoke, and soot into the air. In 1997, after several people became sick due to the fire, locals sued the City of Dallas. A sympathetic judge heard the case and took an interest in seeing the situation resolved. The ruling ended in favor of the local residents, and the owner of the illegal dumping site was forced to deed the property to the City of Dallas. All trash and waste was consolidated and then covered with soil, creating two large dirt mounts that are easily visible today from the grasslands trails. The remainder of the property was redesigned to appear natural, and it soon became a part of the city’s Trinity River Corridor Project. The Audubon Center’s main building was completed and opened to the public in 2008. Now all residents of the local zip code, some of which still remember the landfill fires well, are granted free admission to the Audubon Center at all times.

Last Updated March 16, 2019

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