Whether you’re looking for a solo outdoor activity or a group outing, Mercer offers plenty of birding opportunities throughout spring and early summer.
Hit the trails on your own or join Mercer’s monthly bird surveys to look for bald eagles soaring along Cypress Creek, cedar waxwings feeding on berries, and great herons visiting Mercer’s wetlands.
To help you get started, our experts answered some of your top birding questions below. Learn about birding programs at Mercer, birding hotspots, and more.
How can I participate in Mercer’s bird survey?
Mercer’s bird surveys begin on the fourth Thursday of each month, starting in May. Please note that programs may be canceled because of COVID-19. Stay tuned for details. Birders must be at least 12 years old. Wear comfortable walking shoes and weather-appropriate clothing, and make sure to bring a bird checklist. Mercer’s 1.7-mile survey loop is primarily crushed asphalt trails. Bring binoculars, water, and insect repellent. Contact Christy Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to request binoculars.
If you can’t join the 1.7-mile survey in person, consider signing up for our monthly bird survey email by contacting Christy Jones at email@example.com. You will receive a recap of the birds sighted during the monthly survey, a list of common birds to prepare for the next survey, and a link to Mercer’s eBird data.
Are there any birding groups I can join at Mercer?
The Spring Creek Circle, a birding club formed in 1982 and managed by the Pineywoods Wildlife Society, has a long history at Mercer. The club meets monthly at Mercer and Precinct 4’s Dennis Johnston Park and participates in the Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count in the gardens.
You can check out their bird-count information by visiting the Audubon Society website and entering the code “TXSC.”
Can I go birding during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Although Precinct 4 parks remain open, all our programs remain canceled through at least April 30, including the monthly birding survey. However, we welcome lone birders or families in our parks who practice social distancing. We believe exercise and time in nature is important for mental health during this crisis.
Birders are encouraged to connect with others on eBird, which is an app for birders around the world to discover new bird species and share bird sightings. With more than 100 bird species recorded at Mercer so far, it’s no wonder the gardens have become a birding hotspot.
You can help us record more species by downloading the eBird app and visiting Mercer.
All you need to get started is an account with Cornell Ornithology Lab, a smart phone, or a computer. Click here to view some of the species found at Mercer on eBird.
What birds will I see at Mercer?
Birders at Mercer can expect to see a variety of southeast Texas favorites, such as the red-bellied woodpecker, green heron, Carolina wren, and eastern bluebird, as well as opportunities to view uncommon or migrating species like the Inca dove, cliff swallow, American woodcock, and bald eagle.
Where and when can I spot birds at Mercer?
Different types of habitats support different types of birds. Mercer has forested habitats, open land, scrub habitats, and suburban/human-populated areas like parking lots and buildings. Mercer also offers many wetland habitats, including the Hickory Bog, Cypress Swamp, Cypress Creek, and the pond in the Native Plant and Endangered Species Garden. Visit each area to find different birds. Although they may not be immediately obvious, birds can be found in trees and shrubs, on the ground, in the sky, in birdhouses or birdbaths, on electrical wires, on buildings, and in or near water.
For more information on birding programs at Mercer, visit www.hcp4.net/events/.