Pelicans in flight
David Moynahan- White Pelicans

Hickory Mound Impoundment and Hagen's Cove are excellent spots for birding. From the levee at Hickory Mound you can observe a diversity of wetland birds, including herons, egrets, clapper rails, several species of shorebirds, ospreys, bald eagles, and kingfishers. Several species of waterfowl winter in the impoundment, primarily blue-winged teal, hooded mergansers, and red-breasted mergansers. Occasionally white pelicans, black-necked stilts, and roseate spoonbills are seen at Hickory Mound Impoundment.

During the winter one of the area's biologists spotted a vermilion flycatcher at Hickory Mound Impoundment, and an orchard oriole was seen at Hagen's Cove.

Wildlife Spotlight: Clapper Rail

One of the most abundant and characteristic animals throughout the Big Bend coastal region is the clapper rail, known locally as the marsh hen. Although so abundant it is considered a game bird, the marsh hen is seldom hunted or even seen in the west coast salt marshes where it lives. Clappers are the most vocal bird in the region, emitting a harsh, clattering call day or night.

clapper Rail
Jim Zingo - Clapper Rail

In Birds of America (1842), Audubon described the secretive nature of the rail: "On the least appearance of danger, they lower the head, stretch out the neck, and move off with incomparable speed, always in perfect silence.They have the power of compressing their body to such a degree as frequently to force a passage between two stems so close that one could hardly believe it possible for them to squeeze themselves through." The expression "thin as a rail" is well founded. The breasts of their thin bodies may measure less than an inch and a quarter.

Big Bend Bird List PDF



FWC Facts:
Burrowing owls live as single breeding pairs or in loose colonies consisting of two or more families. Unlike most owls, burrowing owls are active during both day and night.

Learn More at AskFWC