Published by the Ornithology Group, Outdoor Nature Club
Houston, Texas Libby Price, Editor Ellen Red,Assistant Editor:
VOLUME XVII, NO. 5
Wednesday, June 3: Deadline for Clearing House
sightings for May.
Friday, July 3: Deadline for Clearing House sightings for June, and for Spoonbill material to
appear in the June-July issue.
THERE WILL BE NO OG MEETINGS OR FIELD
TRIPS IN JUNE OR JULY.
WHITE OAK BAYOU-- AN INNER CITY RETREAT
by Wesley Cureton
Since the fall of 1974 I have observed 179
species at the stretch of White Oak Bayou that is
enclosed by Ella Blvd., T.C. Jester and the North
Loop. The best part is a stream which leads into
White Oak Bayou itself, which is paved. There are
mostly willows, cottonwoods and ashes in the
stream bottom, surrounded by higher land with
pines, oaks and sweet gums. On the east side is
a small city park and two rocky landfills, and on
the west side are some open fields and thickets.
The best way to enter is to turn west off of Ella
on 22nd, 23rd or 24th and park at the dead end.
Because of its relatively small size and increasing fragmentation, White Oak Bayou's breeding
list is small, and summer is the dullest time. The
woods serve mostly as a migrant trap. Thirty-four
species of warblers have been recorded. The spring
record for warblers in a single day is fifteen species (three times); the fall record is twelve species
(one time). The most exciting warbler was a Black-
throated Gray. Some mulberry trees attract
thrushes, Catbirds and grosbeaks. Early May is usually better than late April, depending of course on
The older of the two landfills, although quite
brushy around the edges, is bare and rocky in the
middle, and apparently reminds some dry-country
species of home. Here have occurred ground dove,
Groove-billed Ani, Ash-throated Flycatcher, and
Lark and Clay-colored Sparrows.
White Oak Bayou formerly held the early
spring record on the Upper Texas Coast for Louisiana Waterthrush (March 6) and early fall record for
Slate-colored Junco (October 9), but these records
have since been broken. It currently holds the record for Nashville Warbler (May 20) and Wilson's
Warbler (May 22). It also has the late fall record
for Cerulean Warbler (November 4) and ties the early fall record for Blue-winged Warbler (August 8).
The rarest bird ever recorded there was the UTC's
second Rufous-crowned Sparrow on September 15,
About six years ago I began observing at another section of White Oak Bayou, a little farther
south from the original tract. It has more open
space. Not as many species have been recorded
here, but this area has contributed a few exclu-
sives: Common Snipe, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Rufous Hummingbird and Sharp-tailed
Sparrow. The last species is one of the few recorded away from the immediate coast.
Some interesting non-avian findings are possum, coon, armadillo, coral snake, snapping and soft-
shelled turtles, marijuana seedlings, a stolen purse,
a stolen car and motorcycle, and a dead man.
As is usually the case these days, the habitat
at White Oak Bayou is deteriorating. The thicket
that hosted the Rufous-crowned and so many other
sparrows now has a building on it. The Bobwhite