There are Eastern Bluebirds year round and an abundance of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. It is so fun to see these large orange-legged birds sitting in the trees! Flycatchers like Vermillion, Eastern Phoebe, and Great Crested. Purple Martins and various herons, egrets and gallinules. Carolina Wrens nest in the corners of structures along with Barn Swallows. You might see a secretive Green Heron skulking in the reeds along the shore. Red Shouldered and Red-tailed hawks can be heard and seen. A Crested Caracara or Bald Eagle fly over is possible. During this time of year the Barred Owls are more vocal as their breeding season is approaching so they may even be heard during the day. Big bottomland forest along a river is prime Barred Owl habitat along with many other bird species. So you may be wondering where this place is as you’d like to try your luck at seeing these birds and perhaps be fortunate and find something unexpected. This place is The Wilderness golf course right here in Lake Jackson. The Wilderness is a certified Audubon International facility and it was in the plan from the beginning for it to be designed and maintained as environmentally friendly as possible. Many folks associate golf courses with pesticide and fertilizer run off and exotic plantings to beautify the course, but The Wilderness shows that golf courses don’t have to be that way.
All you have to do to have birds around, whether it’s your backyard, a wildlife refuge, a park or a golf course, is to provide habitat that meets the requirements of animals – food, shelter, and water. The higher quality the habitat, the more birds that are possible and this is demonstrated at The Wilderness.
The Gulf Coast Bird Observatory has a few members that are golfers and these folks often keep lists of the birds they see during their golf outings. We even have one member that is on a quest to find the birdiest golf course. I’m not sure if this is a North American quest or international but no matter, it’s still a fun idea. Combining hobbies can be both fun and challenging so why not pursue more than one at a time? In March GCBO is going to host our first golf tournament fund raiser entitled ‘Birdies for the Birds’. We are actively pursuing sponsors and golfers so if you would like more information please call us or go to www.gcbo.org and click on the Birdies for the Birds icon. The golf tournament is scheduled for Friday March 22, at The Wilderness here in Lake Jackson and will be a four team member scramble. Who knows, maybe we have the birdiest golf course right here in our backyard.
By: Carol A. Jones, Education Program Manager at GCBO