Coounty Listing in the Southern High Plains

General Considerations

With the exception of Lubbock, the South Plains are very underbirded. This means there is a paucity of hotspots, many rarities go unfound, and ebird tools are less helpful than in other counties. It is also an opportunity to find new birding locations and learn how to identify good birding spots. In general, most of the region is private property, with either no access, or only access from the road. Fences, signs and purple paint on trees/fence posts/etc all indicate “No Trespassing” in Texas, and the laws strongly favor landowners over trespassers. Many of the roads shown on Google maps may be private, so it is best to scout areas and have backups in case your planned route doesn’t quite work. In general, assume that TX highways, Farm-to-Market (FM) and Ranch-to-Market (RM) roads are paved, while most county roads are dirt. These can rapidly become impassible following rains, and may remain too muddy to navigate even a few days after heavy rainfall. Be careful out on county roads because AAA towing stipulates towing with “standard equipment”, which is usually from the nearest paved road. If you are half a mile down a dirt road, that will not help you. In 2016, I had better success with the Geico emergency roadside service included with my car insurance because they arranged for a 4x4 tow to extract my vehicle from mud about a mile down a dirt county road. If other insurance companies offer roadside emergency services, it is worth checking if they will tow from dirt roads. A final birding challenge is that much of the habitat is cotton fields, oil/wind land and ranching. The upside is that even small copses of trees can prove to be great migrant traps on the right day.

To find birding spots on your own, the main two draws are trees and water. Trees are most concentrated around towns, and birding the alleyways and streets can yield some good migrants or rare passerines. Outside of towns, some homes may have planted a large number of trees for privacy or as wind breaks. Birding these places should be done carefully, as people are wary of strangers lingering around. Google satellite images can help reveal large concentrations of trees. Finding reliable water is trickier. Water levels fluctuate based on rainfall, and some counties may be wet when others are drying out. Google maps does not reliably show wet areas, and not every playa may be filled under most conditions. It is possible to use Landsat imagery can show currently wet playas (within last 16 days), though some playas worth birding may only be a few pixels wide. Sewage ponds often have embankments, so observers may need to stand on their vehicle to see in to the ponds, though treatment ponds are otherwise typically good sources of water. Feedlots often have ponds visible from the road as well. Small draws (eg places that have a creek in very wet years) often hold passerines even when dry, and may be worth stopping to bird. The caprock edge is also typically better habitat.

While expert birders may get 90-100+ species in a single day of birding in most of these counties, it is probably better to expect that it will require several trips to get 100 species. For example, it took me ~10 trips to Cochran and Lamb in all seasons to get those lists barely over 100. For difficult counties, you may need to bird in all 4 seasons and hope for good migration days. Migration in the Southern High Plains is either very good or non-existent. Generally, it seems under good migration conditions, the birds mostly fly over without stopping. When fronts stall them in the area, the lack of habitat concentrates them in a few areas, which can give excellent species diversity. Migration can feature Eastern, Western or both Eastern and Western species so some species groups may require more consideration in the region than elsewhere (eg east Texas) due to the overlap of many similar species. Some species common in the eastern parts of Texas are much rarer in the Southern High Plains, so birders should be aware of different potential ID challenges. See “Similar Species” for more information.

Amarillo and Lubbock are the closest “big cities” and will have the most reasonable gas prices. Once you get out of those cities, gas prices will typically increase by 10-50 cents/gallon. Small towns may not even have a gas station, and restaurant choices tend to be extremely limited. While hotels are available in smaller towns like Muleshoe and Brownfield, most of these counties are within 1-1.5 hr drive from Lubbock. RV or tent camping is available in most counties and will provide a better shot at night birds.


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

Target Species

I found it helpful to have target goals for different groups of birds. The breakdown that follows is not monophyletic, and the taxonomists reading this may cringe, but it helps make things manageable. The target numbers are based on the average number of species I found across these counties with county list totals 100-120. Consequently, in some counties, you will exceed certain targets easily and fall short in other counties (Belted Kingfisher is easy in Lubbock, tough in Cochran). Passerines account for only 47 of the species because of the challenges in finding good passerine spots on the correct day of migration. In general, waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, flycatchers, sparrows and icterids are all reasonably diverse.

Geese/Swans 2 Ducks 12

Goatsuckers/Swifts 1 Hummingbirds 0 Kingfishers 0 Woodpeckers 3 Falcons 2 Flycatchers 5 Shrikes/Vireos 1 Corvids 2 Swallows 3 Wrens 1 Parid/paridlike birds 2 Thrush 2

Mimids/Thrashers 2 Small taxa 3 Warbler 3 Longspurs 0 Sparrow 10 Tanagers 0 Cardinal/Buntings 2 Icterids 8 Finches/HOSP 3


Misc Waterfowl
Diurnal Raptors Coot/Rails/Cranes Shorebirds 10 Gulls/T erns 0 Doves 4 Cuckoos 1 Owls 2

2 2 4 7 2

Misc Waterfowl includes loons, grebes, cormorants, pelicans, boobies, etc
Diurnal Raptors include vultures, hawks, osprey and eagles but EXCLUDES falcons and owls Cuckoos include Greater Roadrunner, Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Black-billed Cuckoo Parid/parid-like birds are nuthatches, creepers, chickadees, titmice, kinglets, gnatcatchers Small taxa include anis, Monk Parakeet, larks, Verdin, pipits, starlings, waxwings, Phainopepla Finches/HOSP include finches, crossbills and House Sparrow.

County Birding Hotspots/Routes


The highlight of Bailey county is MULESHOE NWR. With decent water levels, you will get the majority of your birds here. The Headquarters and Camping Area is the best spot for passerines in the county. Field and wire birds can be found north and west as you travel to MONUMENT LAKE. MONUMENT LAKE is deep water, and may hold diving ducks not present at MULESHOE NWR. The town of MULESHOE rounds out the hotspots, and represents the best shot at urban birds in the county. The Muleshoe CBC is usually held on the third Sunday of December from 7:30 am to 1 pm and allows access to parts of the refuge that are usually inaccessible to the public. Relative to the general species mix, expect fewer geese, herons, doves and thrushes in the county. Sparrows, swallows and other migrant passerines can make up the difference. Ducks and other waterfowl will depend on the water levels at MONUMENT LAKE and MULESHOE NWR.

Route (from Lubbock): The fastest is Hwy 84 northwest to Littlefield, FM 54 west to Hwy 214, Hwy 214 north to MULESHOE NWR. Instead of entering the refuge through the main entrance, go to the northern edge of the refuge and turn west on FM1229, birding MULESHOE BACKROADS along FM1229 and then south on CR149. Enter the refuge, and bird the MULESHOE NWR HEADQUARTERS AND CAMPING area. Then continue and bird MULESHOE NWR WHITE LAKES. Drive to Hwy 214, head north to the northern refuge boundary and turn east on FM1232 to enter and bird MULESHOE NWR PAUL’S LAKE Return to Hwy 214 and go north to Needmore, FM298 west and south until CR97 splits off and continue south on CR97 until you reach MONUMENT LAKE.

Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

Alternatively, take FM1229 west to CR149, continue north to FM1223 and take FM1223 west to CR97. Turn south on CR97 to reach MONUMENT LAKE. After birding MONUMENT LAKE, travel north to the town of Muleshoe. I’ve never been to COYOTE LAKE FEEDYARD (298 west to FM1731 north), but it might be worth checking out. Return to Muleshoe either by FM298 east to Hwy 214 or FM1731 north to FM1761 east. MULESHOE can generally be birded for urban birds. At W 12th St and Ave D, briefly check MULESHOE LAKE. Then return to Hwy 84 and return SE to Lubock or further explore Bailey county and find new hotspots. In general, BAILEYBORO LAKE is private and hard to see from the road without a scope. CR1058 just east of Muleshoe may hold some water in wetter years.

Paul’s Lake usually holds the best mix of waterfowl at Muleshoe NWR. As you turn off from Hwy 214, look for sparrows and grassland birds on your drive to the lakes. There is a prairie dog town that often holds Burrowing Owls and hawks in season. When you reach the lake, a scope will help. In the winter, the refuge is closed past the parking lot. Please pay attention to the posted signs indicating when the dike may be walked. Morning light at this location will be very harsh because you will be looking east/southeast over most of the lake. This is the best location for waterfowl in the county. Both waterbirds and shorebirds can be found when water levels are reasonable. Even in low water, there is a spring that will provide some moisture in the back corner of Upper Paul’s Lake. Lower Paul’s Lake is usually the drier of the two. Scaled Quail and Northern Bobwhite may run through the brush. In the winter, thousands of Sandhill Cranes will roost here at night.

Access: limited walking (refuge closed past parking lot in winter) Cost: free
Parking: Parking lot at end of road

Slowly driving FM1229 and CR149 can turn up many of the grassland species often found by “just driving the county roads”. There is some tree cover along the road that may hold birds. The south side of FM1229 is the refuge, while the north side is private. Stay on the road at all times. Quail, hawks, shrikes, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Horned Lark, pipits, sparrows, Blue Grosbeak and icterids can all be found here in the right season.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

This is the best site for passerines in the county. If you are coming in from the back, park on the side of the road near the camping area. Camping is free, but there is no potable water or RV hookups. A trail runs along both sides of the draw behind the campsite. Bird this trail and then proceed east to the small copse of trees. This area may hold flycatchers, warblers, Bell’s Vireo, and other migrants as they pass through. Late April/early May is the best time to look for migrants. As you continue along the road, the yard of the residence may hold Curve-billed Thrasher, Common Nighthawks and sparrows. At the headquarters, there is a metal basin that is often full. Sparrows will come in to the water, which makes them easier to see. Be sure to sign-in at the Headquarters to help the park get money.

Access: A couple short trails accessed from the campground. To reach the campground, continue from the headquarters along the road.
Cost: free
Parking: The HQ has a parking lot, as does the campground.



Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

Follow all posted signs for this area, especially when the area is closed. Horned Larks and meadowlarks may be present on your drive up to the lakes. These lakes may hold Snowy Plover and other shorebirds because the water levels are usually a bit lower than Paul’s Lakes. When water is present, ducks and migrating Black Terns may also be found here.

Access: limited walking (pay attention to closures and non-public areas)
Cost: free
Parking: Parking lot at the end of the road to White Lakes off from the main refuge road.

Bring a scope for this site and bird the site from the road. This site tends to hold deeper water than Muleshoe, and some diving ducks that are hard to find on the refuge (eg Canvasback, Redhead) are easier to find here. Shorebirds, herons and dabbling ducks may also be present. The scrubby grassland around CR97 will hold the usual mix of sparrows and flycatchers in due season. In winter, look for Ferruginous Hawks, Golden Eagle and other raptors.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

This is the county seat for Bailey county. Bird this town like others, checking alleys and local concentrations of trees for passerines. Listen for Blue Jays. There is a park with a pond called “MULESHOE LAKE” that is sometimes worth stopping at. CR1058 on the east side of town may have some water in wetter years, but is usually just a field with Western Meadowlarks.

Access: alleys, sidewalks, road. Cost: free
Parking: roadside

This location is an urban park with very little cover and a pond. It is very hit or miss. However, it is worth checking because the pond will occasionally hold a good bird, like Pied-billed Grebe. Doves that are otherwise hard to find in the county and other urban birds can also be found here.

Access: This small park can be freely wandered.
Cost: free
Parking: Parking lot accessible off of Ave D at W 14
th St.


Lamb county birding is focused primarily around two areas, Littlefield and Olton-Springlake, with some stops in between. Littlefield holds a surprising number of good areas, and is reasonably close to Lubbock (~45 min). The better passerine sites are also located around here. While going north to Springlake/Olton, there are a few other spots that may be worth stopping for, such as CATTLEMAN’S FEEDLOT. Up in Springlake/Olton, the hotspots are primarily playas and mudflats, though geese are more common up in the Olton area. Relative to the general species mix, the biggest challenge for this county is finding warblers and flycatchers in the appropriate habitat.

Route (from Lubbock): Take Hwy 84 NW up to W Delano Ave. Continue on W Delano Ave and turn west on FM54. Bird the water and bushes across from the LITTLEFIELD WWTP. Take FM54 west to Hwy 385. Turn south on Hwy385 and continue south until you just pass Hwy 84. Turn left on CR310 and continue to the water to bird LITTLEFIELD CR310 PLAYA. Return to Hwy 385 and go south until


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

you reach CR334. Park on CR334 and bird LITTLEFIELD- MAGIC PLAYA. If you wish, continue west and bird CR191 and CR334 area. Return to Hwy 385 and go north until you reach W Delano Ave. Turn left, and then make another left on W 1st St. Turn left again on Westside Ave and park in LAGUNA PARK to bird it. Travel north on Westside Ave back to W Delano Ave, and continue NW to the LITTLEFIELD CEMETERY. Exit the Cemetery on CR292 and cross Hwy 84. Bird LAMB CO CR292 west for a few miles. If you like SANDHILLS STATE HISTORICAL MARKER (not described here, even though others get lots of warblers and other great birds, because it’s been a miss every time I’ve stopped at it), return to Hwy 385 and travel north to stop there on your way north. If you do this, you may want to run the Earth-Springlake-Olton route slightly differently than described here. Instead, I prefer to return to Hwy84 (north on CR151 or east on CR292) and go NW to Amherst. Turn left on FM37 and then left again on 9th St/FM1055. Take FM1055 north to Earth. There is a pond at CR202 that may hold a few shorebirds/ducks. Travel through Earth and then bird the LAMB CO—FM1055 x FM2901 PLAYA. Depending on the time available, you can take CR159 south to bird EARTH CEMETERY and take Hwy 70 east to bird as many of the SPRINGLAKE PLAYAS as you want. Continue on Hwy 70 until you reach Olton. Turn right on Ave I and bird OLTON PLAYA. Return to Hwy 70, go west back to FM1072 and then south on FM1072. Turn left on CR132 on the northern border of CATTLEMAN’S FEEDLOT and bird along CR132 and CR271. Return to FM1072 and head south to return to Lubbock. North of Fieldton, there is a small pond that may hold ducks roughly 1/3 of a mile north of CR202. When FM1072 finally meets Hwy84, turn left to return to Lubbock.

This location is birded from the road. FM54 has high speeds, but pretty low traffic density and good shoulders. Although the official WWTP are south of FM54 behind high berms, the best bird action is actually north of FM54. Park in the north shoulder and look down into the water. This site may hold diving ducks like Lesser Scaup and Ring-necked Duck and herons like Black-crowned Night-heron. Swallows may also be seen on the water. Sparrows may be found in the brush along the north side of the road. If there are large flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds along the road here, scan carefully for Yellow-headed Blackbirds.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

This location usually has water, and is probably your best bet for Double-crested Cormorant in the county. It will also be good for herons, and the fields south of the playa can hold sparrows like Grasshopper Sparrow. The trees may hold a warbler or two if you are lucky. To bird this site, park on the side of CR310 just before you reach the main part of the water. Walk/bird the road, taking care to scan the sides of the playa for Spotted Sandpiper and Killdeer. A scope makes viewing the far side of the playa easier.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

This is one of the best locations in the Littlefield area. The playa can be scoped from Hwy385 and then again from CR334. Although this location must be strictly birded from the road, the trees along CR334 may hold migrant passerines. The playa may hold a range of dabbling ducks, herons and shorebirds, including Wilson’s Phalarope. Clay-colored Sparrows and other sparrows may be found along CR334, while swallows may rest along the wires. Further west, near CR191 and CR334 may hold a few other birds, but most of those should be easily findable elsewhere.


Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

This park has a lot of very tall trees, and tends to flood in the middle. Mississippi Kites, Blue Jay, Chimney Swift, woodpeckers and urban birds can be found in due season. Like other sites in W Texas, this site has great potential when migrants are stalled in the area, but holds less than might be expected at other times. At flood stage, you may find Belted Kingfisher here and some shorebirds.

Access: This small park can be freely walked.
Cost: free
Parking: Multiple parking lots, especially on north and west side of park. Roadside parking also available.

This is another great location in the Littlefield area. Drive (or walk) slowly along the lines of trees and look for sparrows and other birds feeding underneath. Listen/look for Canyon Towhee and Curve-billed Thrasher. In the winter, the cemetery can hold both Mountain Bluebird and Western Bluebird and rare winter warblers like Cape May Warbler. The southern part of the cemetery holds more grassland-type birds, while the northern part will hold doves and birds that prefer denser conifers. From the power station in the middle, go north, then take the first left and then park. Walk the tree lines north of there. When you exit, leave via CR292, which runs west from the power station. Check the playa on the way out for ducks and other birds. I’ve never heard a rail here, but it looks possible if the water levels are good.

Access: This cemetery can be freely walked. Enter via CR292 or Hwy 84. The area north of CR292 is typically a little birdier than the southeast corner.
Cost: free
Parking: Roadsides in most spots in the cemetery.

CR292 between Hwy 84 and CR151 has a few playas that are usually dry and lots of grassy habitat. This is a good route for picking up sparrows and other field-type birds. Between CR161 and CR151 is a small copse of trees that could potentially hold migrants. Bird this location only from the road.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

This is one of the best shorebird sites in Lamb county. The NE playa usually holds water, even under moderately low water conditions, and may have ducks, Black Tern, herons, etc. The NW playa is usually more of a mudflat, and tends to have the shorebirds, such as Baird’s Sandpiper, Upland Sandpiper and Stilt Sandpipers. There are two more pools down the road on FM2901 on the south that may have a Killdeer or two. FM1055 is usually busier than FM2901, so it is easiest to bird from FM2901. The trees around the house on FM1055 might hold some passerines.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

There usually isn’t much here, so if you are pressed for time, skip it. Check the conifers for owls and the other usual birds that like to hide in arbor vitae. During winter irruptions, this site may be worth checking for birds like Red Crossbills, Red-breasted Nuthatches and Townsend’s Solitaire if you’re in the area. Further south of the cemetery, the alley between Hwy70 and 1
st street might be as good as the cemetery, and hold more passerines.

Access: This small cemetery can be freely walked. It is NE from Earth off CR159 Cost: free
Parking: Roadside within the cemetery

CR189 playa (on CR189 ~1/3 mile south of Hwy 70) US385 and CR74 playa
CR229 playa (on CR229 between FM2080 and CR74)

These three playas hold variable amounts of water and individually tend to be less reliable than other locations. However, at appropriate water levels, they will typically hold dabbling ducks and/or shorebirds. Swallows migrating through may also roost and hunt along these playas. Herons and egrets are also possible. They will also hold many of the grassland species present elsewhere in the county.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

Although this playa is visible from Hwy 70, it is advisable to turn off onto Ave I and bird either from there or 5
th St. Olton and the surrounding area is the best location for geese in Lamb county. The playa can typically hold large numbers of Cackling Geese. Other geese may be mixed in, as well as diving ducks. It is also a decent location for Mississippi Kites (if you miss them in LAGUNA PARK), and will have more urban birds. If the geese are not there, or the playa is dry, check the fields south of Olton off FM168. There is also a city park that may hold some water and be worth stopping at. Google maps shows a large blue area SE of town. To my knowledge, this is inaccessible.

Access: This small playa can be birded from the road to avoid disturbing the birds on the playa. Best viewsarefromtheendof3rd or4th St,ortheendsofAveKorJ.
Cost: free
Parking: Roadside parking

This location should be birded from the roads, especially CR132 and CR271. In wetter years, there is a lot of water/marshy area around the intersection of CR132 and CR271. Even in drier years, the pond on the feedlot is visible from CR271, though a scope is extremely helpful. The marshy area around the intersection can hold Sora and shorebirds, while the pond may hold ducks and sometimes geese. Raptors, including Peregrine Falcons, Northern Harrier and Swainson’s Hawks, may also hunt the area. Burrowing Owls are present in low density. The feedlot also attracts the expected icterids and doves, while the fields opposite may hold sparrows, and Horned Lark.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside



Next to Lubbock, Hale competes with Crosby for second best county to bird. Most of the action is in Plainview, but there are many spots around the county that add to species diversity. In winter, Hale can host large American Crow roosts, and will get some northern rarities (eg Common Redpoll, Glaucous Gull) more regularly than Lubbock. Geese can be prevalent on the in-town playas. There are several places to look for passerines, which gives you multiple options for starting routes. In general, there are several potential routes to run, depending on starting point, and where you choose to focus your morning hours.

Route (from Lubbock): This route starts in Hale Center, birds Plainview and surrounding county roads, then heads over to HALE CO CR G and returns via HALE CENTER FEEDLOT. HALE CO CR G, Plainview and other locations also make excellent starting locations. Take I-27 north to Exit 36 and then turn east on CR 185 to bird the HALE CENTER WWTP south of the road. Return to I-27 and continue north to Exit 49/Hwy 70 east. Turn north on Ennis St and then left on W 10th St and immediately park on the side of the road to bird the PLAINVIEW DUCK POND on the SW corner of the intersection. Continue north on Ennis St to W 16th St and turn east. Turn north on Utica St and then west on W 18th St. Park on the street and bird PLAINVIEW APARTMENTS PLAYA. Return to Utica St and go south to S 16th St. Turn west, and proceed to Yonkers St. Go south until you reach 8th St, turn east and park by the baseball stadium. Look for the Monk Parakeet on its nest or in the trees nearby Wilder Field. Return to Yonkers and continue south to Hwy 70. Travel east on Hwy 70 to Quincy St and turn south. Turn east almost immediately onto W 4th St and park to bird the PLAINVIEW RUNNING WATER DRAW BIKE/WALK TRAIL. Return to Hwy 70 and continue east to Joliet St. Take Joliet St north until you hit Industrial Blvd. Turn right and park on the side of the road to bird THUNDERBIRD PLAYA. Continue east on Industrial Blvd until you hit FM400. Turn north on FM400 and then east on CR 60. Bird HALE CO CR 60/BB until you hit CR95. Then travel east to HALE CO CR95 PLAYA. Return to Hwy 70 either by going west to CC and then south, or east to DD and then south. From Hwy 70, turn south on FM789 and travel down to the bridge over reeds. That is HALE CO FM789 WETLAND. Return to Hwy 70 and travel west until you hit Quincy St. Turn north on Quincy and then NW on Hwy 194. Take Hwy 194 NW to Edmonson. Shortly after Edmonson, turn west on CR20. In the winter, the stretch along CR20 may hold large numbers of American Crows. Continue west to CR G. Turn south and bird HALE CO CR G. When you return to Hwy 70 by CR G, continue south on FM179 until you reach HALE CENTER FEEDLOT. Turn east on CR165 while birding the feedlot from the road, and make sure to stop at HIDDEN PLAYA just east of the feedlot. Continue on CR165 to CR I and turn south to FM1914. Take FM1914 east to FM400. Turn south on FM400 and continue to the intersection with FM784, which holds the FM400 BREWER’S BLACKBIRD SPOT. Continue south on FM400 to FM37, turn west and return to I-27. Exit at FM54 to bird HALE CO I-27 x FM54 PLAYA and then return to Lubbock.

These waste water treatment ponds often hold a good mix of ducks, shorebirds and herons. Grassland birds may be found to the north, while flycatchers may rest on the fence west of the ponds. Scan the far shore of the close pond for shorebirds like Long-billed Dowitcher, Stilt Sandpiper and others.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

This feedlot can be birded from the roads (FM179 and CR 165). In the winter, large groups of geese may forage on the fields south of the feedlot. American Crows may also be found here. The ponds in the feedlot are visible from the road and may hold dabbling ducks. In summer, egrets and shorebirds may be present, along with raptors, grassland birds and swallows. Further east down CR165 from the

Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

feedlot is Hidden Playa, which is difficult to directly see from the road. Because of the shelter, hundreds of ducks may roost on it in winter. View parts of the playa from the road a little east of it, standing on your vehicle as needed. The house east of the playa also can be a little birdy.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

County Rd G runs from the intersection of FM179/Hwy 70 in the south up to FM2881 in the north. The first mile or two north from Hwy 70 tends to hold minimal birds. The best stretch is where the county road drops into a broad gully between CR20 and CR40 (eg where the hotspot is pinned on ebird). This area holds taller trees that may hold raptors, owls and woodpeckers. Sparrows may also hide in the brush along the road, or stop at the water tank. In the winter, you may hear or see American Crows here moving to/from the large crow roosts along FM2881. As you approach FM2881, you may see more icterids and doves.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

This farm located on the SE corner of FM400 and FM784 can hold Brewer’s Blackbirds in the winter. Check along FM784 to see if any flocks are present. Other field birds and farm birds are also possible.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

CR60 east from FM400 to CR BB and CR BB south to CR95 has several wet/partially wet areas that often hold birds in most seasons. Orioles, grosbeaks, roadrunners, shorebirds, Dickcissel, Black- and Yellow-Crowed Night Herons, raptors and grassland birds are all possible along these roads. Burrowing Owls may be seen along CR BB. At the intersection of CR BB with CR95, there are a few ponds that may hold water birds.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

East of CR BB is a playa that may hold dabbling ducks, wading birds like White-faced Ibis and shorebirds including Wilson’s Phalarope and local rarities like Red-necked Phalarope. When wet, Black Terns and swallows may stop at this playa during migration. Raptors and grassland birds, including Ring-necked Pheasant, may be found around the playa.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

This wetland is entirely private property and must be birded from the road only. The stretch worth examining is the bridge over the wetland, though Cattle Egrets may sometimes be seen in the yard just


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

SW of the bridge. Baird’s Sparrow has been seen here in migration. Look here for marsh birds and listen for rails.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

This trail stretches along the southern part of Plainview. Parking is available on 4
th St off of Quincy St. The trail continues from Quincy and 4th all the way to Dale and 2nd St, which also has parking. Typically

the best birding is closer to Quincy and 4 . The trees along the draw may hold passerines, including

Yellow-billed Cuckoo, warblers and sparrows. They may also hold Mississippi Kites, and in reasonable water, Belted Kingfisher and swallows may be present. This site will also get the usual city birds.

Access: This is an easily accessible walking trail.
Cost: free
Parking: Parking lots on 4
th St off of Quincy St and at Dale and 2nd St.

This fenced in pond is surprisingly good for waterbirds. Along with a wide variety of geese and diving ducks, it has recently hosted Black-bellied Whistling Ducks mixed in with the domestics. In winter, the pond may attract rare gulls, including Glaucous Gull. Typically a few injured Cackling Geese will spend the summer at this location, as can herons and egrets.

Access: A fence separates you from the hungry ducks, but you should be able to survey the entire pond from the sheltered area on 10th St just off Ennis.
Cost: free
Parking: Roadside

This playa is almost entirely fenced in from the apartments. There is foot access from the alley by 18
th St. This area may hold many migrating and vagrant passerines, including Black-capped Vireo, and at higher water levels, shorebirds and/or ducks like Wood Duck. In the winter, Red-bellied Woodpecker and sparrows may be seen.

Access: Foot access from the alley by 18th St.
Cost: free
Parking: Roadside along 18
th St. Do not park in the apartment alleys.

This playa is often dry, though the gully north of the road will often hold water longer. When water levels are good, look for herons and egrets. When water levels are lower, look for meadowlark and other field birds. This site has held Vermilion Flycatcher in the past, so it is worth a stop to see what is present.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

The playa SE of the intersection may hold migrating shorebirds and waterfowl in season. Bird from FM54. A scope is very helpful for seeing the far end of the playa. At higher water levels, other areas around the intersection may hold water and birds.


Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside


Floyd has a very large number of playas in the Southern High Plains, making water more abundant than it may be in other counties. Most of the county is above the caprock, but there is limited birding just below the caprock. The US62 crossing at the White River is the most accessible of the county below the caprock, along with the nearby limited access Plains Baptist Assembly. Consequently, these are good locations in the county. Generally, the areas around Floydada and Dougherty have the most locations worth checking, though Lockney has some treatment ponds and a cattle feedlot that can be good, and the Los Lingos Creek crossing up in the northern part of the county may hold birds not easily seen elsewhere in the county. In terms of general species, this county fits pretty well for the mix.

Route (from Lubbock): Take Hwy 62/82 east to Ralls. Follow Hwy 62 north into Floyd county. When it dips below the caprock, pull off into the parking area along the road to bird FLOYD CO.—US62 AT WHITE RIVER. Continue north on US62 into Floydada. Turn north onto Hwy 70 and then east on W Price St. Turn south onto 5th St with a quick turn east on W Grover St. Park along W Grover or on Main St and bird EAGLES HALL PARK. After birding EAGLES HALL PARK, continue south on Main St to bird FLOYDADA. Travel to the east side of Floydada and turn north on Hwy 207. Turn west into FLOYDADA CEMETERY to bird it. Return south on Hwy 207 to US62 and continue east. Bird the US62 PLAYAS, CR231 WETLANDS, and DOUGHERTY AREA PLAYAS. To access Lockney area spots, take US62 to Floydada and head north on Hwy 70. Turn south on Commercial St and follow the dirt road south to the LOCKNEY WWTP. Then return to Commercial St and travel north to E Shubert St. Travel east on E Shubert until you reach FM378/8th St. Travel north on FM378 until you reach CR120. Turn west on CR120 and head west to bird the WESTERN CATTLE FEEDERS AREA. Return to FM378, continue north. Just before the intersection with FM2286, bird the FM378 COW POND. Return to Lubbock by traveling south on FM378, Hwy 70 south to Hwy 62 or travel west on Hwy 70 to bird Hale county, or travel east on FM2286 to Hwy 207 and bird that area of Floyd, returning via Hwy 207 to Hwy62 west to Lubbock.

Pull off and park at the rest stop. Private property lines the sides of the rest stop; do not trespass. Walk up and down the road, especially birding the tall trees and the culvert. Be careful near the road; traffic is moving at 75 mph. Cave Swallows have tried to nest under the bridge. The reeds may hold sparrows. The trees lining the road may hold a variety of woodpeckers, including Golden-fronted, Red-headed and Ladder-backed and Northern Flicker. Other passerines may be seen further back from the road, especially during migration.

Access: This small rest area can be freely walked. Be very mindful of the FAST traffic near the road. Cost: free
Parking: Parking lot east of the highway.

A wide range of habitats makes Eagles Hall Park worth checking when in Floydada. Park along the side of the road at the corner of Grove St and Main St. Eagles Hall Park holds some thick trees on the west side of the park near this area. The thick trees are good for Great Horned Owl, along with other woodland migrants. In wetter years, there will be water in the playa and you may find shorebirds here. In between, the open meadows are good for grassland birds. If you look south of the park, you should be able to pick up some urban birds, especially doves.

Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

Access: This small park can be freely walked.
Cost: free
Parking: Roadside. The intersection of Grover St and Main St is a good starting point.

Like many towns on the South Plains, Floydada concentrates a relatively large number of trees and it is often worth birding the alleys and streets in search of passerines. The southern part of Floydada, especially JB Ave and Main St seem to generally hold some of the best birds. Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Cedar Waxwing and Common Grackle have all been found in this area. Look skywards for Chimney Swifts.

Access: Alleys, sidewalks and roads. Cost: free
Parking: Roadside.

This small cemetery tends to be hit or miss. It has the usual cemetery open tracts mixed with arbor vitae, which may hold the usual cemetery-type sparrows, doves and meadowlarks. Hawks may be observed in the nearby environs, including Swainson’s Hawk, and American Kestrel.

Access: This small cemetery can be freely walked. Turn into the cemetery from Hwy 207 Cost: free
Parking: Parking along the small roads in the cemetery.

Hwy62 just before CR231

Hwy62 and CR241 CR290 playa Hwy62 and CR271

Most of these playas are along US62 and are worth checking for the usual shorebirds, ducks and grassland birds in the appropriate seasons. Pull off along the side of the road to bird these. The first playa mentioned is just before CR231/FM602. There is a farm just east of this playa, which may hold Brewer’s Blackbird in the winter and other farm-associated birds. CR290 playa may be worth checking for Burrowing Owls. To access it, travel south from US62 along FM602. Turn west on CR290. In wet years, there will be a playa on the north side of the road. In most years, the playa will be a barren patch of land and/or hold some greenery, possibly with Red-winged Blackbirds. For Burrowing Owls look to the south side of the county road. The second playa mentioned is just after CR241 and has held Cinnamon Teal in migration along with other ducks. The third playa is just before CR271, and is less reliable than the other two playas.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

In between the first two playas mentioned above is the CR231 wetlands. This stretch tends to be marshy in wetter years, with a relatively steep and deep pond near CR241. This stretch may hold breeding Dickcissels, along with other sparrows like Grasshopper and Cassin’s Sparrow and the usual grassland birds. Also keep alert for the possibility of rails in wetter years.

Access: Road only Cost: free


Parking: Roadside


CR293 Cow Playa
CR319 Playa
FM28/CR232 playas
CR283 between Hwy62 and CR200

The large playa at the intersection of Hwy62 and FM28 marks the start of these playas. A scope will be helpful for many of these playas. To access CR293 Cow playa, follow FM28 south through Dougherty. When it veers east, continue south on CR293. Turn east on CR284 and then south again on CR293 until you reach the playa. Even in dry years, there is often some water for the cows closer in. This spot may hold shorebirds. CR319 playa is accessed by driving north on CR319 from Hwy62. This spot may be good for Chihuahuan Raven along with the usual ducks and shorebirds. To access the FM28 playas, travel north on FM28. Check the multiple playas north of CR232, as well as the residence (possible Cattle Egrets, Common Grackles). The playa just east on CR220 looks promising and often holds water, but you will probably want a scope to view it from the road.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

These treatment ponds a little south of the town are good for diving ducks and other waterfowl in the winter. Longspurs and pipits may also come to the water. In migration, look for shorebirds, Black Tern and Franklin’s Gull. Sparrows, raptors, gamebirds and swallows round out the rest of the likely species.

Access: Best to stay near the parking lot.
Cost: free
Parking: The parking area is just before the ponds at the end of the road.

This is a good spot for shorebirds in migration. The best birding will be along CR120 and then north along CR77. The cow pond may require a scope to adequately see. Check the various low areas for shorebirds, especially close to the road. Burrowing Owls may also be found around here. Warblers may be found in some of the taller trees in the area and hawks may be seen hunting the grasslands.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

The playa just south of the intersection between FM378 and FM2286 may be worth a stop. It has held Yellow-headed Blackbird along with shorebirds and the other usual suspects.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside



Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

This location has held Chuck-Will’s-Widow in the past, along with a number of other marsh birds, like Marsh Wren and Bell’s Vireo. For Chuck’s, arrive before light and listen. Sparrows, flycatchers and Belted Kingfisher may also be found here in due season.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside


Cochran county holds a lot of potential, though the birding can often be very hit or miss, and access is the usual challenge. The area around Whiteface holds the most water in the county, and is consequently one of the better areas to bird. The other good spot in the county is the Morton area. If you are looking for Lesser Prairie-Chickens, you might consider searching the southern part of the county off from Hwy 214. Look in the correct habitat around dawn: small dunes with Shinnery Oak and shortgrass prairie. Generally, waterbirds are harder to find in this county. Despite their abundance in Hockley and Lubbock counties, all geese are rare here. However, you can find plenty of sparrows here.

Route (from Lubbock): This route starts in western Cochran and travels east back towards Lubbock because the best passerine spots are further away, and it’s usually better to visit those in the morning.

Take Hwy 114 west. Note the dirt road north immediately before you enter Cochran county for the last stop on the route. Turn north on FM596 and continue to CR44. Park on CR44 and bird the CR44 WOODLOT. Return to Hwy 114 and go east back into Morton. Turn north on Hwy 214 and then east on FM74. Turn north to bird the MORTON LANDFILL AND WWTP. Then return to FM74 and continue east. FM74 will turn south. Turn east on FM1780 and immediately enter COCHRAN COUNTY PARK. Then head west on FM1780 back to Hwy214. Turn south and proceed to W Grant Ave. Turn west and then bird MORTON CITY PARK. Return to Hwy 214, head north to Hwy 114 and go east until you hit CR197. Turn north and bird the COCHRAN COUNTY FEEDLOT. If you have the time, bird CR197 south to FM169, travel east on FM169 and check out a wet spot on CR237 ~3/4 of a mile south of FM169. In this case, enter the WHITEFACE CEMETERY just prior to entering town. If you lack the time, go south on FM1337 back to Hwy 114 and take it southeast to Whiteface. Turn south on Taylor St and west on FM169/2nd St. Enter the WHITEFACE CEMETERY to bird. Travel east to Taylor St, turn south and continue to Overton St. Turn around and pull into the east shoulder of Taylor St to stand on your car and scope the TAYLOR ST POND. Go north on Taylor St back to Hwy 114 and go east, back to that dirt road you noted way back in the beginning. Immediately after exiting Cochran county, turn north on that dirt road. Take the first left and then right to reach the WHITEFACE WWTP.

This small woodlot can hold some water in the middle of the lot, making it attractive to migrating passerines. The woodlot is private property, so bird from the edges only. This is one of your best chances to find migrating warblers, empidonax flycatchers and other passerines. The lot across FM596 may also hold a few migrants, but this is also private property.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

This location also has somewhat limited access; respect all posted signs. Park outside of the landfill proper and walk the fence line down to see the first WWTP. A scope is helpful here. This is a good place to find swallows, as well as longspurs and pipits. Shorebirds may be seen along the WWTP.


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

Black Terns have been seen during migration. The fields behind the WWTP may hold Sandhill Cranes in winter. The water is deep enough that it may hold diving ducks.

Access: The landfill itself is restricted access. Walk the fence line to see the first WWTP.
Cost: free
Parking: Park on the road just outside of the entrance, taking care not to block what little traffic may come.

This location is one of the best places in Cochran to look for passerines. It is publicly accessible. It has a lot of very tall, mature deciduous trees, along with some conifers along the side of the park. At extreme flood stage, the park may flood and attract waders. Look for migrants, especially flycatchers, Mississippi Kites and other raptors.

Access: This small park can be freely walked. Cost: free
Parking: Parking lot accessible from FM1780

This location is one of the most variable sites in Cochran, but at least it is publicly accessible. Some days it may hold an Evening Grosbeak, other days, it just has domestic ducks. There is generally water here and an island, so this is one of the better chances to get herons, egrets and kingfishers for Cochran. Diving ducks and shorebirds may also be seen in the appropriate season. Urban birds are also possible here.

Access: This small park can be freely walked.
Cost: free
Parking: There is a small parking area off Grant St, but roadside parking is also available.

This location holds the most potential in Cochran county, even though it is birded by road only. There is a lot of potential shorebird habitat, and a fair amount of water. If the area bounded by CR197 and CR110 holds water, it may hold diving ducks and attract larks, pipits and longspurs. Traveling east along CR110 will bring you alongside more water, which may hold an assortment of ducks, shorebirds and passerines. Rails could be possible here, too. Check trees for migrants and feedlot birds.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

This location is a small, though typical, cemetery. It holds a lot of arbor vitae, which will attract the usual set of wintering sparrows and other cemetery birds. It is bordered by farmland, so it is possible to find Northern Harrier, meadowlarks and other field birds as well.

Access: This small cemetery can be freely walked. Cost: free
Parking: Roadside along roads in the cemetery.

This location is challenging to bird because it must be birded entirely from the road. Park on the shoulder of northbound Taylor St. Carefully stand on your vehicle and use a scope to look in to the


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

pond east of the road to look for shorebirds and ducks. The close side of the pond will not be visible, so hope that the birds stay to the far end. Icterids may be along the roadside, along with other urban birds.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

Park near the oil derrick, but stay out of the way of anyone needing access either to the derrick, WWTP or fields. This is one of the better locations for shorebirds because there are 4 depressions with varying amounts of water, which usually guarantees at least one will be mudflats. The water decreases counterclockwise, which is usually how I walk these ponds. Be cautious in your approach because once the ducks flush, they often do not return to the ponds. The first pond is usually wet, and may hold Wilson’s Phalaropes and dabbling ducks. The second and third pond will hold substantially less water, and may hold shorebirds and ducks. When the brush is up, sparrows and icterids may be found in between the ponds. Swallows and falcons may also be found around the ponds.

Access: The WWTP themselves are fenced, but you can walk around them and easily see the area. Cost: free
Parking: Small parking area by the oil derrick. Avoid parking in the way of accessing the derrick, WWTP or fields.


Hockley is one of the easier counties to bird because there is a lot of accessible water and parks to find migrating passerines. Smyer playa is 20 minutes from Lubbock and is worth visiting for shorebirds that are less common in Lubbock, even if one is not county listing. Levelland holds most of the remaining hotspots, though there are also locations around Pep and Sundown that will add diversity and increase your ability to maximize species in one day. The route described is a half-day route, which could be expanded to include Pep and Sundown if desired. Due to personal lack of experience, the Sundown and Pep locations are not discussed here. If your goal is to maximize passerines at Smyer playa, or just checking for rare shorebirds, the route can be reversed. The Anton location is more on the way for travel to/from Lamb county, so if time permits, it can be birded on trips up Hwy 84.

Route (from Lubbock): Take Hwy 114 west to Levelland. Drive through most of town and turn south on West Ave. Make a right on McKinley and enter LEVELLAND CITY PARK. Bird the park, then return to West Ave and continue south until you reach 13th St. Bird the WEST X 13TH PLAYA and then continue east on 13th St. Turn north into LOBO LAKE PARK as soon as you pass it and bird the lake. Continue east on 13th St, which will turn into Magnolia St and eventually reach BRASHEARS LAKE PARK when it intersects with Sherman. Bird that location and then continue north on Sherman until Cactus or Hickory. Turn east on either street and continue to Alamo. Alamo Rd between Hwy 114 and Bison Rd is technically a hotspot, as this stretch may contain good birds. Continue south on Alamo Rd until you reach Bison Rd. Bison Rd is not marked, but is the left where Alamo changes from gravel to dirt. Turn left on Bison Rd and go down the hill to BISON RD PLAYA. Either return to Alamo Rd and head north to Hwy 114, or continue east on Bison Rd to FM3261. Taking FM3261 north should also return you to Hwy 114. Take Hwy 114 east until you reach Hwy 168 north. Turn north and then make the first left onto Ellis Rd. Bird SMYER PLAYA and then return to Hwy 114 and continue east. If time permits, turn south on Hwy 168 and stop at ELK RD x SH168 PLAYA. Return to Hwy 114, which will take you back to Lubbock. Reese Center in Lubbock county (North a few miles on Research Blvd) has a few playas that may hold good swallows and waterbirds.



Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

This is one of the better spots in Hockley for migrants. When entering the park, most of the action will be centered around the grassy playa on the northern part of the park. When water levels are high, you may find shorebirds and other waders. Usually walking and birding around the playa will produce passerines like flycatchers in the tall trees around it. The scrub along the north part of the playa may hold warblers and sparrows.

Access: This small city park can be freely walked. Enter the park via McKinley St or Ave S Cost: free
Parking: Several parking lots are present within the park.

This playa on the SE corner of the intersection is also bordered by tall trees which makes it good for migrant passerines. When wet, the playa is typically more marshy, which means that waterfowl are not the major target here, but icterids and sparrows are more likely. It is harder to bird this location early in the morning because all the birds will be backlit.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

This is an in-town playa that tends to be hit or miss. Along with the domestic geese, and a variety of common waterfowl, it can hold good birds like Tundra Swan, Bonaparte’s Gull and Red-breasted Merganser, so it is worth checking when you are in the area. The conifers may hold Pine Siskins.

Access: This small park can be walked. Cost: free
Parking: Parking lot accessible from 13
th St.

This in-town playa is larger than LOBO LAKE and tends to hold more geese. The access is from the west, so birding in early morning may be challenging due to backlit birds. This location has held Brown Pelican and this is one of the easiest locations to get all 5 regularly occurring goose species for Hockley county. There are sometimes cattails along the north side of the lake, which will hold icterids. The water is typically a mix of deep and shallow water, so wading birds, dabbling ducks and diving ducks are all possible here.

Access: Technically you could walk down to the water, but it is easiest to bird from your vehicle. Cost: free
Parking: Roadside

This is another great shorebird spot in Hockley county that is close to Lubbock. On the road down to the playa is a prairie dog town, so Burrowing Owls may be present. The playa holds deep water closer to the road, and the mudflats are usually further back (depending on the water levels). During high water, the road may quickly become impassible. At optimal water levels, this playa can hold a lot of great shorebirds, including Whimbrel, Long-billed Curlew, White-rumped Sandpiper, Hudsonian Godwit and others. In the winter, longspurs and larks are also possible, though they tend to be further out than at Smyer Playa. Sparrows and hawks round out the expected species here.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside


This is one of the top shorebird spots in the South Plains, and its proximity to Lubbock means a trip here and to the nearby Bison Rd Playa are often worthwhile during shorebird season to find regional rarities. In very high water, Ellis Rd will flood, though the field NE of Hwy 168 x Ellis Rd will also hold water. At lower water levels, the playa south of the road will become a mudflat, while north of the road usually holds water. As you turn on to Ellis Rd, keep your eyes open for Scaled Quail, Burrowing Owls and sparrows in the grasses. When you come down to the playa, approach carefully to avoid flushing close shorebirds. Black-crowned Night-herons have roosted in the salt cedars beyond the playa. Those salt cedars will also hold migrants, so check them carefully (from the road!) for warblers, woodpeckers and other migrants, especially in the fall. In the winter and early spring, most regularly occurring ducks and geese will frequent the playa, and longspurs may come in for the water. A scope is helpful for seeing the far end of the playa, which is where most of the ducks will sit. Check carefully through the shorebirds, because rarer shorebirds like Red-necked Phalarope, Marbled Godwit and White-rumped Sandpiper may show up.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

This playa tends to hold dabbling ducks and shorebirds, depending on the water level. If time permits, it is worth checking, but can also be omitted as needed.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

If returning from Lamb county, turn east onto FM597/1
st St in Anton from Hwy 84. Continue on FM597 until you reach FM2130 and turn south. Turn west to access the Ohio St Ponds (aka Roundup Playa). If coming from Lubbock, turn north onto FM2130 from Hwy 84. Continue north to Ohio St. Typically the Ohio St Pond (Roundup Playa) holds more water, and during high water will flood Ohio St. These ponds, especially Roundup Playa, are a good location for Dickcissel breeding in the county, and may also hold shorebirds, waterbirds, herons and game birds.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside


Lubbock is the easiest county in the region to get to 100. It is the most heavily birded county in the region, and it has a wide range of habitats. Due to the large number of hotspots in ebird, only a subset of the hotspots will be discussed here. The route described here will hit some of the major hotspots; however it omits some of the key hotspots (eg CLAPP PARK) due to time. There are lots of ways to bird Lubbock, depending on the water levels and available time. The Lubbock CBC is usually the third Saturday in December from 7:30 am to 5 pm. Note that domestic mallards and geese are resident at most in-town playas, and often a few Cackling or Canada Geese will summer with them.

Route (from Lubbock): Take 50th St/FM3523 east to FM835. Turn south and then turn east to enter BUFFALO SPRINGS LAKE (entrance fee required). After spending several hours birding, head back to 50th St/FM3523 and continue east to Ransom Rd. Turn south on Ransom Rd to bird RANSOM

Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

CANYON. Exit RANSOM CANYON via Hillside east to Johnston Rd. Head North on Johnston to CR7000/66th St. Take FM7000 east to FM400 and turn south. After going down into the canyon and coming back up to the top, turn left on CR7300/Gentry Ln. Bird CR7300/YELLOW HOUSE CANYON. Return to 50th St/FM3523 (can go via CR3600 north to Mimosa Ave, continue north to CR6840, south on FM400 back to FM3523) and head west to CR2900. Turn north to bird CR2800/CR2900. Typically by this point it will be starting to get late, and you will probably have time for 1 or 2 more spots. Unless there are rarities to chase elsewhere, or easy misses to pick up, LEROY ELMORE will probably hold the most additional species for your day list. From FM3523 and CR2800, travel west to Loop 289. Take South Loop 289 and exit at Quaker Ave. At the light, turn right and then pull into LEROY ELMORE.

Selected Locations

Whisperwood Pond (4
th and Rayleigh)
Maxey Park (Quaker and 28
th; main entrance Nashville and 26th) Dupree Park (Richmond and 56th)
Leroy Elmore (Quaker and 66

These four playas along Quaker usually hold some reasonably good birds. In the winter, all of these playas will hold thousands of Cackling Geese at the correct time of day, and tens to hundreds at other times of day.

Whisperwood Pond is private and posted, so bird from the road only. It is deep water, so in the winter will usually hold diving ducks. It has also had Trumpeter Swan, and usually holds lots of Cackling Geese, with other geese mixed in. North of Whisperwood Pond is the TTU Rangelands, and sometimes good raptors can be seen in that area.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

Maxey Park is public access and holds a wide range of waterfowl. It has hosted Brant, American Golden-Plover and Brown Pelican in the past. Herons and cormorants will roost in the Bald Cypress on the SE side of the playa. At lower water, the western bank will have a mudflat, which may hold shorebirds and roosting gulls. The trees around the playa may hold passerines.

Access: This playa can be freely walked.
Cost: free
Parking: The parking lot is accessed by traveling west on 26
th St into the park. Roadside parking on 24th and 28th St.

Dupree Park is a decent location for shorebirds (depending on the water), and will sometimes hold rare gulls or terns. At lower water, the playa will shrink back, revealing large areas of mudflat. At high water, the grass south of the playa will flood, and egrets may move to that area instead of the main playa.

Access: This playa can be freely walked. Cost: free
Parking: Roadside

Leroy Elmore is the most reliable spot in the county for Wood Duck. Wood Ducks often persist through the summer here at low density. In the winter, gulls may roost in large numbers and the waterfowl diversity will increase. During summer, the island becomes a large rookery, mostly for Cattle Egret and Snowy Egret. However, this site will get Tricolored Heron in the fall, along with White Ibis and other rare


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

wading birds. Typically in late August, the best strategy is to scope the island just before sunset, when all the herons and egrets are returning. This is also the best spot in the county to find a Neotropic Cormorant mixed in with the Double-crested Cormorants. Depending on the light, you can park just south of the safety memorial, or along Peoria and walk up to the shore. The junipers in the NE part of the park may hold Townsend’s Solitaire during irruption years. Birding the trees on the east side of the park can kick out migrant passerines.

Access: This playa can be freely walked.
Cost: free
Parking: There is a parking lot off Quaker just south of the Public Safety Memorial. Roadside parking on Peoria Ave.

Guy Park (Memphis and 90
th) Huneke Park (Nashville and 84th) Andrews Park (Memphis and 78th) Miller Park (Memphis Dr and 74th)

Of the Memphis Ave playas, Guy Park and Andrews Park are the two most worth visiting. However, if you have an extra 5 minutes, Miller Park and Huneke Park can sometimes hold worthwhile birds. For Guy Park, the east side is usually drier. In moderate water conditions, check that side for shorebirds and White-faced Ibis. The west pond has deep water and usually holds diving ducks along with dabblers. The trees can hold migrants. Andrews Park may be birded with a scope from Memphis Ave. This site has deep water and occasionally holds something exciting like a Western Grebe. Otherwise, most of the birds will usually be on the north shore. In the winter, there are usually a lot of American Wigeon. I usually check them carefully in the hopes I’ll pull out an Eurasian Wigeon. Both Guy Park and Andrews Park may host summering Canada Geese and usually have lots of domestic ducks and geese. Miller Park will sometimes hold egrets and good shorebirds under the right conditions. Huneke Park is usually not worthwhile, unless you need the extra ebird checklist for the month’s challenge. Maybe someday someone will find a Brant and make stopping there worthwhile.

Access: These playas can be freely walked.
Cost: free
Parking: Roadside for all but Miller, which has a parking lot on the east end of the park, off 74
th St.

McAlister Park is located between spur 327 and the Marsha Sharp Freeway (Hwy 62). It can be challenging to access if you approach from the wrong direction. On the westbound frontage road for 327, there is one entrance. Northbound Milwaukee (but NOT Southbound!) is the main entrance, and on the east bound frontage road for Hwy 62, there are two entrances. Alternatively, you can access part of the park from the Bob Mills Furniture store parking lot, though you will have a lot of water between you and most of the park. McAlister is one of the best shorebird spots in Lubbock, and has also hosted rarities like Surf Scoter and American White Pelican in the pond. Ducks on the pond are usually present in good numbers along with herons and egrets. Even in low water conditions, the playa will typically hold a fair amount of water. There are Burrowing Owls present reasonably close to the road along the south drive of the park, which makes photography pretty easy. The fields will hold sparrows, especially during migration.

Access: It can be challenging to access if you approach from the wrong direction. On the westbound frontage road for 327, there is one entrance. Northbound Milwaukee (but NOT Southbound!) is the main entrance, and on the east bound frontage road for Hwy 62, there are two entrances. Alternatively, you can access part of the park from the Bob Mills Furniture store parking lot, though you will have a lot of water between you and most of the park.


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

Cost: free
Parking: Parking lots on the north and east sides. Roadside parking (in the park) for the south side.

Tech Terrace refers to the neighborhood of Lubbock just south of Texas Tech University. It is an older neighborhood, which means the trees are far more mature than many other places in Lubbock. The trick to birding the neighborhood is to walk the alleyways because it is easier to see the trees. Generally, the alleys run East-West, and the alleys between Gary/Elgin and 21
st and 23rd St are the most fruitful. In general, look for warblers and other migrant/irruptive passerines here. Inca Doves are also possible, though they get harder to find every year. If Tech Terrace Park has flooded, you might pick up a few birds you wouldn’t otherwise, but in general the park isn’t worthwhile.

Access: alleys and sidewalks. Generally, the alleys run East-West, and the alleys between Gary/Elgin and 21st and 23rd St are the most fruitful.
Cost: free
Parking: Roadside

Clapp Park vies with Canyon Lake 6 as the best spot in town. Its main claim to fame is a Gyrfalcon that hung out one winter. In the winter, the junipers may attract Townsend’s Solitaire and Evening Grosbeak, while the playa will hold ducks and geese. During migration, this is one of the best places to bird for warblers and other migrants. In moderate water, mudflats open up, attracting shorebirds. There are fields that will bring in sparrows, Bronzed Cowbirds and other icterids. If you are just checking the junipers for winter finches, park on 40
th Ave next to the junipers and look. Otherwise, park in the Lubbock Garden & Arts Parking lot off 44th Ave/Ave X. Bird the Arboretum area first. The patches of shrubs tend to hold a lot of migrants, and the flowers will attract hummingbirds. Bird east/northeast until you exit the Arboretum area. Check the wooded area right near the dike for birds, then proceed along the dike. Northern Waterthrush is regularly seen during migration along the dike. This will also give you views of all 3 parts of the playa. Look for herons and egrets, including Yellow-Crowned Night-heron. Once you cross the dike, you can check the fields to the east, looking through all the Great-tailed Grackles for Bronzed Cowbirds in summer. Check unmowed areas for sparrows. Loop back around and bird the junipers/conifers. During migration, warblers may move between this area and the dike. Bird the dike again and then loop south. Bird the area between Safety Town and the playa, and follow the playa until you are due south of the playa (by the water outlet, which usually has herons and/or Belted Kingfisher). Proceed SW into a denser group of trees and shrubs. This location is called “Shrubhenge”, and may hold empids and warblers the rest of the park isn’t holding. Finish by returning north to the Arboretum.

Access: This small park can be freely walked.
Cost: free
Parking: Parking lot for the Garden and Arts Center is accessible from 44
th St off University. There’s also parking off 46th St near the Safety City and at the Hodges Community Center on 40th St.

The Canyon Lakes system collectively represents the best birding in Lubbock. It will take an entire day to thoroughly bird the whole system. The best areas are the Lubbock Cemetery, Canyon Lake 6 and the draw downstream of Canyon Lake 6. Most people start downstream of Canyon Lake 6 and work their way northwest.

Canyon Lake 6 (Dunbar Lake)
Canyon Lake 6 has a road/running trail running around the entirety of the lake. On warm, sunny days, it will often hold a large number of people fishing, running, etc, so morning may be better to bird the lake. The lake may hold most diving and dabbling ducks in the correct season, and is the best spot in


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

Lubbock to try for Least Bittern in summer (wait on the dam at early morning and watch for one to fly across the lake). This is one of the more likely spots in the county to get rare gulls, terns (including Forster’s and Least Terns) and waterfowl like Red-breasted Merganser and Horned Grebe. The prairie dog town may hold Burrowing Owls and Ferruginous Hawks in due season. Although the lake can be easily birded entirely from the car, finding passerines may require some walking. There are bike trails along the eastern part of the lake. The best access is to check the draw around 33.567261, - 101.802565 for migrants. At the back of the draw, hike up the draw on the north side. The mesquite habitat may hold orioles, Western Tanager and Verdin. The other part most worth walking is the shrubbery across from the cemetery around 33.565761, -101.803659.

Access: This area can be freely walked. With a free city boating permit, it can also be birded by boat. Cost: free
Parking: Roadside. There are a couple parking lots partway down either side of the lake. There is a small pull-off northeast of the dam.

Yellowhouse Draw Downstream of Canyon Lake 6
Park at Canyon Lake 6 just north of the dam. Cross the dam and then follow the stream. The stream itself may hold herons and egrets, including rarities like Tricolored Heron. There is a small marshy area to the south along the stream that may hold Marsh Wren, Carolina Wren, Common Yellowthroat and other marsh birds. The trees before the train bridge may hold migrants, as well as Brown Creeper. The edges of the train bridge may hold other passerines, including rarities like Black Phoebe. Bird the marshy area downstream of the train bridge (Prothonotary Warbler has been found there in migration) and continue until you reach the concrete bridge crossing the water. Cross to the north shore, stopping to check at the bridge for warblers and flycatchers. Continue south along the river to check for sparrows and other migrants. The oxbow lake is 33.557672, -101.791882, which is about a mile downstream from the parking area. This area has held breeding Yellow-breasted Chat, flycatchers and other passerines. Just SE of the oxbow, Ring-necked Pheasant can be seen/heard around dawn. Making a loop back along the fields may produce other grassland birds, including Cassin’s Sparrow, other sparrows, and meadowlarks.

Access: This area can be freely walked. Mountain bike and walking trails extend south just past the oxbow.
Cost: free
Parking: Park at Canyon Lake 6 in the small pull-off just north/east of the dam.

Lubbock Cemetery
This is the best spot in Lubbock for winter passerines. Western Bluebird, Mountain Bluebird, Townsend’s Solitaire, Red Crossbill, Cassin’s Finch, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker are all possible during irruptive years. The cemetery has also held rarities like Vermilion Flycatcher and Phainopepla. In general, the pines along the SE corner (near the maintenance shed) may hold warblers like Pine Warbler or Northern Parula. Walking Gallardia (an EW road on the southern half of the cemetery near the maintenance shed) is usually good for winter passerines along with other birds like Cedar Waxwings. The middle area of the cemetery most often holds bluebirds and solitaires, while the arbor vitae along the edges (especially W and N edges) may hold Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warbler, White-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, the occasional Harris’s or White-throated Sparrows and others. Northern Flicker and Ladder-backed Woodpecker may also be found throughout the cemetery. In the winter, both accipiters may be seen, along with soaring buteos. Waterfowl coming and going from Canyon Lake 6 may be observed as flyovers.

Access: This cemetery can be freely walked. Enter either from Canyon Lake 6 or the front entrance at Teak St and E 31st St.
Cost: free
Parking: There is a small parking lot by the main building, or parking alongside a cemetery road.


Mae Simmons Park
Mae Simmons Park combines a variety of habitats, giving it a lot of potential for a wide range of birds. It is also a popular fishing/frisbee golf destination, so human activity can also depress the number of expected species. Mae Simmons can be birded from Canyon Lake Drive between 19
th St and MLK, Jr Blvd. Look for dabbling ducks, geese, herons/egrets and other marshy birds. Osprey may be rarely seen in season. This is one of the better spots to see Common Gallinule. Injured Cackling Geese may spend the summer at this location. To access the rest of the park, turn south on 19th St towards Compress Ave. Turn immediately east onto the gravel road and take that road around the Lone Star Amphitheater into Mae Simmons Park and a small parking lot. Be courteous of any frisbee golfers. One birding strategy is to bird the dirt path SE until you turn due East into the woods. Tucked in the woods is a small pond that may bring in migrants, including Northern Waterthrush. From the pond head north to the water, then return NW back along the river towards the parking lot. Check the cattails for Marsh Wren, Winter Wren, Common Yellowthroat, Common Gallinule and other marsh birds. Shorebirds like Greater Yellowlegs and Spotted Sandpiper may be present along the mudflat in the middle of the park. The trees may hold a variety of passerines, like Black-crested Titmouse and Red-breasted Nuthatch.

Access: This park can be freely walked, but please be courteous of frisbee golfers. The wooded area/frisbee golf area is accessed by trails from the parking lot off 19th St. Canyon Lake Drive covers the opposite side of the water.
Cost: free
Parking: To access the main park, turn south on 19
th St towards Compress Ave. Turn immediately east onto the gravel road and take that road around the Lone Star Amphitheater into Mae Simmons Park and a small parking lot. Roadside parking is also present along Canyon Lake Drive.

Mackenzie Park
Mackenzie Park can be accessed from I-27 frontage road, or by turning north on Cesar Chavez from Broadway. When coming from Cesar Chavez, park at the first parking lot and bird the two lakes for geese, waterfowl and shorebirds. Just before 4
th St/Marsha Sharp Hwy overpass is a swampy area with a creek. This can be walked to search for additional sparrows. Once this area has been birded, drive under the Marsha Sharp Why (Parkway Dr/Hwy 62/82) and slowly bird the draw for passerines and marsh birds. The stream crossing just after Cesar Chavez bends west out of the park (towards Aztlan Park) sometimes holds migrants or ducks. It also floods in high water. The prairie dog town is worth checking, but it is often challenging to find a Burrowing Owl here. (Easier site in the area is Elm Ave, at the entrance to the PURINA MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAIL).

Access: Mackenzie Park Road (Cesar Chavez) runs the length of the park. While the golf course cannot be walked, the rest of the area can be freely walked.
Cost: free
Parking: Multiple parking lots off Mackenzie Park Road and at the prairie dog town.

Purina Mountain Bike Trail
The Purina Mountain Bike Trail can be accessed at its north end by turning off E Municipal Dr onto Elm or Globe and parking at the end of either Elm St or E Erskine St (eg 33.607088, -101.828731). There is a prairie dog town west of Elm Ave that is more reliable for Burrowing Owls than Mackenzie Park. The southern access is a pull-off from the Marsha Sharp (Hwy 82/62) (roughly 33.592333, -101.822114). From this stop, the old BMX park on the west bank of the draw can be directly birded. To cross the draw, carefully walk along Hwy 82 to the start of the trail (33.592754, -101.820026). The south end of the trail has the most access to the trees along the draw. These trees may hold Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Black-crested Titmouse, Broad-winged Hawk, Chuck-will’s-widow, nuthatches as well as other riparian birds. Traveling along the trail gives a nice mix of scrub and field. Sparrows and flycatchers are often plentiful here. This is one of the better spots to try for Vesper, Brewer’s, Clay- colored, Cassin’s, Grasshopper and other sparrows.


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

Access: This mountain bike/hiking trail can be freely walked.
Cost: free
Parking: North side: Roadside parking at the end of either Elm St or E Erskine St (eg 33.607088, - 101.828731). South side: Parking in a small unpaved parking lot off of the Marsha Sharp (Hwy 82/62) (roughly 33.592333, -101.822114). From this stop, the old BMX park on the west bank of the draw can be directly birded. To cross the draw, carefully walk along Hwy 82 to the start of the trail (33.592754, - 101.820026).

Aztlan Park
Aztlan Park can be accessed from Mackenzie Park by following Cesar Chavez Dr under I-27. Alternatively, Buddy Holly north to 1
st Pl. West on 1st Pl to Ave J will also bring you into the park. Generally park along Cesar Chavez, closest to the river. Bird the river north to the next canyon lake, which may hold Marsh Wren and Osprey in the winter, along with diving ducks. Return along the river, looking for passerines in the trees. The rest of the park is relatively open and may hold urban birds.

Access: This small park can be freely walked. Cost: free
Parking: Roadside

Erskine Marsh
Erskine Marsh is accessed by turning south on the the dirt track between Ave U and the water crossing (labeled “Comancheria Lake” in Google Maps). The track east of the water does not give as good views. Park at the end of the dirt track and bird this area on foot. There is a small pond SE of the parking that often holds teal and other waterbirds in due season. The main reason many birders stop at Erskine Marsh is to listen for rails and look for Common Gallinule. Sora, Virginia Rail and Common Gallinule are all possible here, though it may be quite challenging to visually see the birds.

Access: A few dirt trails that permit some walking.
Cost: free
Parking: Turn south on the the dirt track between Ave U and the water crossing (labeled “Comancheria Lake” in Google Maps). The track east of the water does not give as good views. Park at the end of the dirt track and bird this area on foot.

Canyon Lake 2 (Llano Estacado Lake)
Canyon Lake 2 is rarely worthwhile on its own, but is worth driving by en route to/from Buddy Holly Park. However, Common Loon and large numbers of Yellow-headed Blackbirds have been reported here, so it can hold some good birds. Follow Cesar Chavez drive along the lake. There are places to pull off and scope the lake. The dam may hold some waterfowl, and the marsh below the dam has been used as a roost for Yellow-headed Blackbirds in migration. Immediately east of Cesar Chavez Dr and Ave U is a prairie dog town that often holds Burrowing Owls.

Access: This area can be freely walked.
Cost: free
Parking: Parking lot off Cesar Chavez. Also roadside parking.

Buddy Holly Park (Canyon Lake 1)
Buddy Holly Park is accessible from University St. It is best birded in the winter and during migration, when it can hold rare waterfowl like Tundra Swan or migrating Common Tern. It also may hold diving ducks, especially on the water opposite Marshall to Rice St, as well as geese. Herons and other shallow water birds are more common in the water near the exit to Loop 289, while migrating passerines may be found throughout the trees along the park.


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

Access: This small park can be freely walked.
Cost: free
Parking: Multiple parking lots along Cesar Chavez Dr

These two county roads run through a massive prairie dog town and scrubby grassland habitat. Drive them from 50
th St up to either 34th or 19th and then return via the other road. In the winter, look for prairie dog specialists like Ferruginous Hawk, plus other raptors like Golden Eagle and all 4 regularly occurring falcons. This site is often a good place to look for longspurs. It will often hold pipits, Savannah and White-crowned Sparrows as well as lots of meadowlarks. In the summer, look for Burrowing Owls, Blue Grosbeak, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Western Kingbird and other grassland birds in the weedy margins along the road.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

Although this site has an entrance fee, this is one of the best birding spots in Lubbock county. It is located just off the Caprock, which enhances the species density, has a variety of habitats and contains a large amount of water. After paying the entrance fee, continue along High Meadow road. Grassland birds (meadowlarks, sparrows, Blue Grosbeak) are possible along this stretch prior to descending into the canyon, and Northern Bobwhite may come to feeders at the houses on the north side of the road. Follow the road as it curves down and becomes Indian Trail until you reach the dam. Pull off to the right and scope the lake. Look for diving ducks, grebes, herons and gulls. Continue along Comanche Dr until you reach the top of the incline. On your left is a small parking lot and a “Llano Estacado Audubon Trail”. Park here and follow the trail back down into the canyon. Check for Rock Wren and thrashers as you descend the canyon. Once down, bird the trees for passerines. Cross the paved emergency route and continue to the bottom of the dam spillway. Dabbling ducks may be present, along with Belted Kingfisher. Cross the wooden bridge and follow the trail into the woods. The marshy area in the middle is good for Sora and Virginia Rail. The wood margin to the north may hold Painted Buntings and other margin birds. The woods proper will potentially hold migrant passerines, including orioles, flycatchers and warblers. This is also one of the better accessible spots in the county to find Black-crested Titmouse and Carolina Wren. Once you finish birding the wooded area return to your vehicle and get back on Comanche Drive. Bird Comanche Drive all around the remainder of the lake. Where it merges with Apache Ln, there is a small parking lot down by the water. This can hold Spotted Sandpiper and other shorebirds when mudflats are present, and give you another view of the lake. Continuing west on Comanche will bring you to the campground. The tall trees may hold woodpeckers. The water here is shallow and tends to hold dabbling ducks, including Cinnamon Teal. The reeds may have Yellow- headed Blackbirds mixed in with the Red-winged Blackbirds. Loop around the lake and pick up any urban birds you may still need for the checklist. Listen/look for Inca Doves. The marina may hold gulls. You can either cross the lake on the dam and then retrace your route to exit, or exit via a left on Pony Express Lane.

Access: Enter via High Meadow Rd after the pay station. The Llano Estacado Audubon Trail and camping area can be freely walked. Roads and sidewalks for most of the rest.
Cost: $6/person/day
Parking: Roadside. There are small parking lots for the dam, the “Llano Estacado Audubon Trail”, at Comanche Dr and Apache Ln, and camping area

Ransom Canyon is one of the top birding locations in Lubbock. Although it is free to enter, it is completely private. Birding is from the road, with the exception of the chapel gardens, which permit


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

visitors. From Lubbock, take 50th/FM3523 out to Ransom Rd. Turn south and continue up to the canyon. The top rim of the canyon can be birded for urban birds if desired. To reach the chapel, continue on Ransom Rd down into the canyon and make an immediate hard left near the bottom onto Brookhollow Rd. Continue until you reach the chapel. Park at the chapel and bird the gardens and continue on the bird trail behind the chapel. When you return to your car, instead of entering your car, walk down the street until you can cross to the other side of the culvert. Bird back up the other side to your car. This region will be the best part of the canyon for migrants, and often holds Golden-fronted Woodpeckers (and occasional Red-bellied Woodpeckers), warblers, vireos, juncos, Brown Thrasher, Pyrrhuloxia, towhees among others. The reeds may hold sparrows and Marsh Wren. There is a Canyon Wren that lives near the chapel; this is the most reliable spot to find Canyon Wren in the county. When you are done birding the chapel area, continue down to E Brookhollow to Lakeshore Drive. Follow Lakeshore Drive around the lake. When you make the turn onto Foothill Drive, the house immediately in front of you often has feeders out, which may attract finches and doves. After turning onto Foothill Dr, make another right turn onto Lakeshore Drive. When crossing the spillway at the southern part of the lake, do NOT stop on the spillway. The lake can be observed from many vantage points along the road. It typically holds deeper water birds than other parts of the county, including Common Merganser, other diving ducks and Eared Grebe. In the early morning/late evening in winter, thousands of geese may be present. At other times of day, they may be seen in the fields west of the lake from S Lakeshore Dr. Herons, cormorants and gulls may roost on the island in the middle of the lake. W Lakeshore Dr and the roads nearby can hold some interesting birds if you have the time. Exit from Ransom Canyon either via Ransom Rd (to return to Lubbock) or Hillside Dr to Johnston Rd (to head to YELLOW HOUSE CANYON).

Access: Birding is from the road, with the exception of the chapel gardens, which permit visitors. Cost: free
Parking: The chapel has a small parking lot. The rest is roadside parking.

This is the best location in the county for Scaled Quail, Greater Roadrunner and Rufous-crowned Sparrows. From Lubbock take 50
th/FM3523 out to FM400. Travel south on FM400 down into the canyon. At the top of the canyon, turn left onto CR7300. Prior to descending into the canyon on CR7300, check the ranch with cows on your right for Scaled Quail feeding with the blackbirds and doves. As you travel down into the canyon, check the scrubby brush for roadrunners, sparrows, thrashers, bluebirds and other passerines. The intersection of CR3700/CR3600 may hold Golden- fronted Woodpeckers, Eastern Screech-Owl and nesting Common Poorwill. Note that at flood stage, the creek overflows and the road is impassible here. Turn north on CR3600 and travel up to the trees covering the road. Look for White-breasted Nuthatch, Wild Turkey, bluebirds, blackbirds, Black-crested Titmouse, flycatchers and other passerines around here. Although it is helpful to walk, rather than drive, this part, please stay on the roadway and do not trespass. When you come out of the canyon on CR3600, stop along the drop-off and look for Rufous-crowned Sparrow. Rock wren is also possible in this habitat. Exit either by continuing on CR3600 or returning to FM400.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

This is the best site in the county for longspurs. Chestnut-collared, McCown’s and Lapland Longspurs are all possible, and Horned Larks are plentiful, so take care in ID. Take Hwy 62 east to FM400 and turn north. Turn east on CR5300 and travel to CR3600. Typically longspurs are found across the road from the pond, or south of CR5300 west of CR3600. If they are west of CR3600, a scope will help. When the playa is unfrozen and wet, it may hold the usual dabblers. Raptors, including Prairie Falcon,


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

may be also readily observable on the various poles, and geese traveling north/south may be readily observed flying overhead.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside


Crosby county is the second or third best-birded county after Lubbock. Crosby also straddles the caprock edge, which gives it both birds commonly found on the Llano Estacado and birds found below the caprock. Generally the best spots are either reliable playas, mostly found along US 62, or along the caprock edge, usually when a road crosses the White River. White River Lake is the largest body of water in the area and has potential to attract rare waterbirds. The White River Lake CBC is usually held around New Year’s and is a good way to bird White River Lake. The route described here is only one possibility; there are many other hotspots to choose from, depending on your target birds and time available. The target mix of species should work well for this county.

Route (from Lubbock): In general, passerine activity decreases before shorebird and waterfowl activity, so this route starts at WHITE RIVER LAKE and works backwards towards Lubbock. For shorter trips, it is possible to run the route in reverse, and/or head out to other hotspots, like CROSBY CO –SILVER FALLS/US82 REST AREA or CROSBY CO—FM2591 CAMP RIO BLANCO/WHITE RIVER CROSSING and/or spend the day birding the White River hotspots. To get to WHITE RIVER LAKE, take Hwy 82 east to Crosbyton. Turn south on FM651 and continue south until you reach FM2794. Turn east and continue until you reach the White River Lake Marina. Pay your entrance fee at the Marina and then continue on FM2794 until you reach CR245. Turn north on CR245 and continue to the northmost parking lot (off Cliff Rd). Park there and proceed down to the river to bird WHITE RIVER LAKE WOODLANDS/FIELDS N. OF LAKE. Return to the marina, taking time to bird the lake as you have opportunity. Bird WHITE RIVER LAKE MARINA AREA on your way back down FM2794. Turn north on FM651 and return to Crosbyton. About a mile north of CR180, stop and bird SOUTH CROSBYTON WETLANDS. Continue north on FM651 and turn east on Elm St and then north on Ave B. Bird CROSBYTON SOUTHEAST PLAYA. Then travel west on Hwy 82 and bird CROSBYTON itself. As you leave Crosbyton, turn south on CR187. Bird CROSBY CO CR187/CR180 and then return to Hwy 82. Travel west on Hwy 82 back to Ralls. Turn south on Ave K and continue to the RALLS WWTP. Return to Hwy 82 and continue west to Hwy 62. Turn north on Hwy 62 and bird RALLS SOUTHWEST PLAYA. Continue on Hwy 62 and turn south on Hwy 207. Take Hwy 207 south to CR174. Turn west and bird RALLS BACKROADS (CR147/CR174). Return to Hwy 62/82 and continue west, birding US62 PLAYAS: Stop at HWY62/FM2576 to bird the playa there. Continue on Hwy 62/82 and turn south on CR125 and west to bird CR166; HWY 62/CR119 PLAYA will be to your south when you hit CR119. Continue west on Hwy 62/82 and bird LORENZO PLAYA if it is wet.

Locations US62 PLAYAS


All of these locations are easily accessed directly from US62. Lorenzo playa is usually dry and most often holds cattle. When dry, it is exceptionally easy to drive past. It may attract blackbirds, when wet, look for shorebirds during migration and dabbling ducks. About 1 mile east of Lorenzo is another playa just off CR119. During migration, this playa can hold decent shorebirds such as Stilt Sandpiper and Wilson’s Phalarope. CR166 is just east of this playa, and may hold raptors and grassland birds. The intersection at FM2576 may hold Brewer’s Blackbirds and/or other farm-associated birds.


Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside


Ralls has a few very promising birding spots in the area. Driving the county roads SW of Ralls, especially CR147 and CR174, can be good for shorebirds and grassland passerines, like sparrows. The RALLS SOUTHWEST PLAYA is easily accessible en route to Floyd county because it is off Hwy 62 as soon as Hwy62 splits from Hwy 82. Bird from the shoulder of Hwy 62. When wet, this playa may hold ducks, shorebirds, ibis, etc in due season, while the grasses may hold passerines and the trees raptors. When dry, it is much sparser. The RALLS WWTP is posted no trespassing; please respect this. However, the first couple ponds are visible from the public access road leading up to the ponds and there is a turn around where you can park and look into the ponds. While the best birds may seem to be just out of sight, grebes, herons and migrants may be seen here, and with a good ear, others heard.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside



Aside from locations on the Caprock edge and below the Caprock, Crosbyton may hold the best diversity of species and locations. As the major urban area for Crosby, slowly driving the streets and walking the alleys may produce city birds that are hard to find elsewhere in the county, including Chimney Swift, Blue Jay and any missing doves. Northwest of the town may hold water in wet years, but the most reliable water is in the southeast of Crosbyton, at CROSBYTON SOUTHEAST PLAYA and SOUTH CROSBYTON WETLANDS. Birding the former is best done by walking Birch St and Ave B. The tall trees along Birch St may hold migrating passerines, Great Horned Owl, and woodpeckers, while the field/mudflat/playa (depending on water levels) can attract a range of waterfowl, shorebirds (including American Golden-Plover), herons, swallows and sparrows. Further south, the latter may hold ducks and migrating warblers. To the southwest of Crosbyton, the county roads, especially CR187 and CR180, can hold a good diversity of species. Water along both county roads may hold shorebirds and waterfowl, while the nearby grassland is good for icterids, raptors and sparrows.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

This playa is very hit or miss, depending on whether it is wet or not. In medium to low water in the county, expect this playa to be dry. Consequently, it is most often a stop (if it looks promising) while en route to destinations in Floyd County. When wet, the playa may hold shorebirds and/or dabbling ducks.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

The Silver Falls rest area is about an hour away from Lubbock and sits on the edge of the Caprock. Consequently it holds a strong diversity of species. This is a good spot to look for migrant passerines, and may be reliable for Canyon Wren. Woodpeckers, Eastern Phoebe and Black-crested Titmouse are likely year-round, with swallows, Painted Bunting, and flycatchers resident during the summer.

Access: This is a small park that can be freely walked. Cost: free
Parking: Parking lot for the rest area.

The camp itself is a Girl Scout Camp, and may not be publicly accessible, but the river crossing can be birded from the road. This location is similar to Silver Falls, but not as well birded. Red-headed Woodpecker may nest here, while Yellow-breasted Chat is also possible.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside


White River Lake is probably the single best birding spot in Crosby county. Most birding entries are from the winter due to the CBC, or the summer for breeding bird surveys, though the location is also worth birding at other times of the year. There is an entry fee ($5), which can be paid at the Marina. The Marina area gives some views of the lake, as do other locations around the lake, while the woodlands/fields north of the lake provide access to riparian areas. To access the woodlands, continue north on CR245 until you reach the northmost parking lot, and then continue on foot north along the lake. The lake itself will hold deepwater birds, and is the best place in the county to look for diving ducks, scoters, grebes, loons and gulls. As with other water in the South Plains, water levels fluctuate wildly, so it is worth checking the levels prior to going. Shorebirds may be found in migration, and the woods along the lake may hold passerines. The area north of the lake may hold woodpeckers, breeding Yellow-breasted Chat, titmice, owls, sparrows, and other passerines.

Access: The lake can be scoped from the marina. To get to the woodlands, continue on foot north along the lake from the northernmost parking lot.
Cost: $5
Parking: Parking is available at the marina and at various parking lots around the lake. Park in the northernmost parking lot on CR245 for the woodlands.


Yoakum is an extremely underbirded county. This is primarily due to the general lack of water in the county, lack of access and distance from Lubbock. Consequently, there is a lot of room to explore and find new locations. Birding centers around three parks, one in Plains, the county park 15 min south, and a trail in Denver City. The good news about the lack of habitat is that these locations serve as migrant traps, similar to the well-known migrant trap Melrose Woods in New Mexico. On a good migrant day, many warbler species and other passerines can be seen all in a relatively close area. While there are no dedicated grassland hotspots in the county yet, it may be worthwhile to drive the dirt roads just outside of the towns near spots that may hold inaccessible sources of water and/or while en route to various locations. Although most habitat is inaccessible, Lesser Prairie-Chicken might be possible north

Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

of Plains off from Hwy 214. Compared to the standard mix of species, plan to get more passerines (especially warblers and icterids) to make up for the lack of wading birds, ducks, geese and shorebirds.

Route (from Lubbock): Take Hwy 62/Marsha Sharp SW to Brownsfield, TX. In Brownsfield, turn west on Hwy 380 and continue to Plains. In Plains, turn north on Ave B. Turn east to enter PLAINS- STANFORD PARK. Bird the park and the draw east of it. Return south to Hwy 380 and drive east to Hwy 214. Turn south on Hwy 214 and continue until you reach YOAKUM COUNTY PARK just past FM213. Return to Hwy 214, continue south to Denver City. The parking for the DENVER CITY RECREATIONAL TRAIL is at the corner of Hwy 214 and 8th St. Travel north on Hwy 214 past Plains and turn left at 6 Mile Rd/FM2196. Continue east on FM2196 until you reach FM2196 X CR365 PLAYA. Return to Lubbock either via Hwy 214 or travel east to FM1780 and south back to Hwy380.

If this location held reliable water, it would be the best spot in Yoakum county. The park holds a lot of tall trees, along with some scrub along the edges. On a good migrant day, many species of warbler can be found, including Tennessee, Black-throated Gray, and Townsend’s Warblers. This park holds one of the northernmost records of Slate-throated Redstart for Texas. East, across the street, is a draw that runs the length of the city. Warblers and other passerines may also be found there, usually in close proximity to the park. In winter, the conifers in the NW corner of the park may hold Townsend’s Solitaire and Red-breasted Nuthatch, especially during invasion years.

Access: Turn north on Ave B from US82/US380. Turn east to enter the park. Alternatively turn north on Ave E and turn west to enter the park. This small park can be easily walked.
Cost: free
Parking: Multiple parking areas and space to pull off to the side of the road in the park.

This location holds free RV camping and is centrally located in Yoakum county. It is also adjacent to a private golf course. While the park can be freely birded, the golf course is less accessible. Bird the golf course ponds from FM213 (standing on your car as needed) because these ponds are one of your better sources for diving ducks and other waterfowl in the county. In the park proper, there is a shallow pond that may hold domestic ducks, a stray goose or two or shorebirds. The tall trees will help bring in passerines and shelter owls.

Access: The park is small and can be freely walked. To bird the golf course ponds, park opposite the ponds on FM213 and stand on your vehicle.
Cost: free
Parking: Park in the parking lot prior to the golf course entrance.

This is a short recreational trail that can be walked in Denver City. As one of the few concentrations of trees and scrub, it can hold a lot of woodpeckers, warblers, kinglets and sparrows and other migrants on a good day. On a bad day, expect to find more typical urban birds plus a few others.

Access: Short, easy recreational walking trail.
Cost: free
Parking: Parking is at the corner of Hwy 214 and 8
th St.

FM2196 X CR365 PLAYA
This is a rare source of water in the county, though the water levels usually do not support diving ducks. Look for dabbling ducks, herons and shorebirds. This is also a reasonable spot to try for sparrows and grassland birds.


Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside


Terry is perhaps best known for the Common Crane that was present in the county, mixed in with the thousands of Sandhill Cranes. It also holds large concentrations of both Chihuahuan Ravens and American Crows in the winter, especially at the Brownfield dump. The presence of two productive parks in Brownfield makes access to passerines easier than in some other counties. Rounding out the Brownfield locations are the usual county roads and occasional playas. Brownfield is 45 min from Lubbock, so birding can easily be staged from there. However, there are hotels in Brownfield if you prefer that. For the species mix, shorebirds are harder to find due to the challenges of finding good habitat for them.

Route (from Lubbock): This route focuses on Brownfield and points east, with the western locations added for later possible birding. Take Hwy 62 SW to Brownfield. In Brownfield turn east on E Buckley St/Old Lamesa Rd and then south on CR395 into COLEMAN PARK. Exit south on CR395 and bird the BROWNFIELD DUMP/FIELDS until you hit Hwy 137. Turn left on Hwy 137 and immediately left again on CR470. Turn north on Old Lamesa Rd and continue back into Brownsfield. Although not really a hotspot, some worthwhile birds can be seen along this road. Turn south onto S Ballard St and bird S Ballard St and BROWNFIELD WWTP. Return to Old Lamesa Rd and turn right and then left on Elm St. Take Elm St to Cardwell and turn east. Just after Cardwell merges on Tate, turn north on Cheryl Dr. Turn west on Main St to enter GILLHAM PARK. Exit onto Hwy 380 and travel east. Turn south on FM168. If you plan on sifting through thousands of Sandhill Cranes in the winter/early spring, or just want to bird more farmlands, turn west on CR490 and bird the CRANE LOCATIONS. Otherwise, north of CR490 is CR480. Turn east on CR480 and bird CR480 to the CR480 PLAYA. Travel south on CR595, and then south again on CR705. Turn west on CR630 and bird PROPANE PLAYA (CR630 x CR705). Return along CR595 to Hwy 380. Take Hwy 380 west until you hit TOKIO PLAYA. Then continue west on Hwy 380 and turn north on CR121. Bird CR121 (BETWEEN US380 and FM2196). Turn east on FM2196 and then north on CR303. Turn west on FM211 and then north onto CR305 to bird CR305x CR303 PLAYA. Take FM211 east until you hit Hwy 62 and return to Lubbock.

Brownfield is one of the largest concentrations of trees in Terry county, and tends to be the most productive area to bird. In addition to the locations below, it can be worthwhile to drive the streets and/or walk some of the alleys to look for migrants and urban birds.

Access: Bird from roads, sidewalks and alleys. Cost: free
Parking: Roadside

Coleman Park is accessed by turning east off Hwy 62 onto E Buckley St, making the immediate turn SE onto Old Lamesa Rd and next immediate turn SW onto CR 395. The trees along the creek are often worth checking for migrants, and urban birds may be found throughout the park. However, the best location for passerines is the small stand of trees at the S end of the park. This area may hold Great Horned Owl, rare woodpeckers like Red-bellied Woodpecker and Downy Woodpecker, White-breasted Nuthatch, warblers and Pine Siskin. Across Webb street, you may see Red-winged Blackbirds and hear other marsh birds. Meadowlarks and other grassland birds may be seen and heard from the eastern boundary of the park. To get to the Brownfield Dump, follow CR395 S to S 1
st St and continue south.

Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19


Access: Turn east off Hwy 62 onto E Buckley St, make the immediate turn SE onto Old Lamesa Rd and next immediate turn SW onto CR 395. Alternatively, it can be accessed from the south by turning north onto CR395 from Webb St. The park can be freely walked, though the woodlot on the extreme southern end of the park is usually the best.

Cost: free
Parking: Roadsides and parking lots interspersed throughout the park.

Due south of Coleman Park lies the Brownfield Dump. This area holds hundreds of Chihuahuan Raven and American Crow in the winter. The fields will also hold geese in the winter, along with grassland type birds. There are a few trees at the dump entrance that may hold Dark-eyed Junco and Mourning Dove in the winter. Old Lamesa Road passes through vineyards that may hold Long-billed Curlew and Ferruginous Hawk.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

To access these ponds, turn south from Old Lamesa Rd onto S Ballard St. En route to the ponds, you will pass a couple small woodlots and a farm. The farm (33.168262, -102.265505) is the best place in the county to find Bronzed Cowbirds, sometimes even into the winter. Check for other blackbirds, and proceed south towards the WWTP. Just before you reach the ponds, you can scope the ponds south of Coleman Park from the road; these may hold dabbling ducks. The WWTP are not accessible; park in front of the fence and stand on your vehicle to see into the ponds. The ponds may hold diving ducks, dabbling ducks and geese in the winter. The fields will sometimes hold Killdeer and Meadowlarks.

Access: Bird from parking lot and road only. Stand on your vehicle to see into the ponds. Cost: free
Parking: Small parking area in front of gated fence

This park provides the most accessible water in Brownfield. There is an island in the park which allows ducks and herons to roost with less human disturbance. In high water, the west-most pond will hold water; otherwise it will often hold people walking their dogs. The trees along the water may hold warblers and other passerines during migration. In the winter, thousands of Cackling Geese may be present, plus American Crows in the fields south of the park. Domestic Mallards are resident here.

Access: Can be directly accessed from US380 or from E Main St on eastern end of park. This small park can be freely walked.
Cost: free
Parking: Pulloffs/roadsides within the park.

CRANE LOCATIONS (area bounded by FM1076 x FM168 x CR490 x CR555)
This is the area that held a Common Crane in 2016, and typically hosts thousands of wintering Sandhill Cranes. Pull-offs are harder on the FM roads, which are paved and more heavily traveled. Aside from Sandhill Cranes, field birds may also be found here, including pipits and larks.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

This area is private property so bird from the road only. This playa is very close to the road, so any waterfowl on the playa often flush if you drive right up to it. It is usually best to park before the playa and walk along the road up to it to bird. The playa may hold both dabblers and diving ducks, including Canvasback, Redhead, and Ring-necked Duck. In lower water, shorebirds may be present. The salt cedars north of the road (and west of the playa) may hold passerines like Bullock’s Oriole, Orange- crowned Warbler, Marsh Wren, and possibly in the winter a Long-eared Owl.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

This area is private property so bird from the road only. This road will have several spots that become muddy when water levels are high, so bird with caution or find alternate routes. In moderate water, the field at the corner of CR490 and CR595 may flood and sometimes hold shorebirds. North of CR490, Swainson’s Hawk, Loggerhead Shrike, Scaled Quail and other birds are possible. South of CR490, check the scrub for passerines like Bullock’s Oriole, Blue Grosbeak and others.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

This playa is so-named for the propane gun used to flush the birds in the cropland. CR630 is usually flooded, which makes for a nice playa that can hold waterfowl and shorebirds, but also means that access is usually via CR705.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

This playa can be very hit or miss, depending on the water levels. When dry, it is very easy to drive right past without noticing the playa, and it is technically a little east of Tokio. The water south of the road is deeper and more reliable than the water north of the road. When the water levels are optimal during migration, rails, shorebirds and herons may be found here, along with Black Tern and Ring-billed Gull. In the winter, ducks may be found when water levels are good. The farm near here may also hold icterids and doves.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

CR121 (BETWEEN US380 and FM2196)
This county road tends to be particularly productive in this part of the county. A number of abandoned homesteads make this area good for Barn Owl, flycatchers, and orioles. The old trees help hold warblers in migration.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

CR305x CR303 PLAYA
This playa may be hit or miss, depending on water levels. Expect the usual grassland birds that may be more concentrated around patches of water.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside


Lynn county sits almost entirely atop the Caprock, but is one of the better-birded counties in the South Plains. There are many playas with a mix of water levels, making it relatively straightforward to find at least one location with water at most water levels. However, many of the locations are accessible from dirt roads and/or gravel roads that may become less passable immediately after heavy rains. There is one cut in the Caprock that is publicly accessible (CR EE WETLANDS), and the town of Tahoka holds other wooded locations that can be walked. The best birding spot is the restricted access TAHOKA LAKE PASTURE. On the western side of the county, there are some wetlands in the NEW MOORE area. In terms of species mix, shorebirds and herons are easier to find than in other counties.

Route (from Lubbock): This route aims to hit most of these hotspots in one route, and assumes a lack of access to TAHOKA LAKE PASTURE. If you can visit TAHOKA LAKE PASTURE, start there, and then it may be worth visiting the FM3332 PLAYAS, CR EE WETLANDS and returning to Lubbock via the FM1054 PLAYAS. For faster trips, the FM3332 PLAYAS and CR EE WETLANDS together make a good trip. The route described here starts SE of Lake Tahoka at CR20 B/W CR X AND CR Y (to maximize time in the morning at the passerine spots) and completes a square with CR EE WETLANDS, SKEEN PLAYA and TAHOKA as the corners. With enough time, the detour to O’DONNELL—US 87 PLAYA and the NEW MOORE AREA can be included.

Take Hwy 87 south from Lubbock to FM211. Take FM211 east through Wilson and turn south on FM1054. Take FM1054 south until you turn west on CR20 and start by birding CR20 B/W CR X AND CR Y. Depending on your preference for dirt roads, travel south on CR X, CR Y or FM1054 to Hwy 380. Proceed east on Hwy 380 (if coming from CR X or Y) or west on Hwy 380 (if coming from FM1054) to CR AA. Turn south on CR AA and immediately park. Bird US380 x CR AA FORESTED AREA by foot and then drive east on Hwy 380 and turn south on FM1054. Continue south on FM1054, birding both FM1054 PLAYAS as you go by them. Travel east on CR28 until you reach CR EE. Turn south on CR EE and continue until you reach the CR EE WETLANDS. Return north to CR 28 and travel west back to FM1054. Turn south and travel to FM3332. Turn west and bird the FM3332 PLAYAS as you reach them: FM3332 x CR Y PLAYA, then FM3332 x SAM RD PLAYA. Turn north on Sam Rd and west on CR29 to reach REDHEAD PLAYA. Return east on CR29 and south on Sam Rd to FM3332. Continue west on FM3332 to US87, birding the road and any seasonal playas as you go. If birding O’DONNELL – US 87 PLAYA and the NEW MOORE AREA, turn south on US87 until you reach O’Donnell. (Otherwise turn north on US87 and continue the route from SKEEN PLAYA). At O’Donnell, exit US87 for FM2053 west (eg turn right) and immediately turn south onto the US87 frontage road. Bird O’DONNELL – US 87 PLAYA from the frontage road and then return to FM2053. Turn west on FM2053 and follow FM2053 as it turns south and then west again. Where FM2053 turns into FM179, stop and bird FM179 x FM2053 WETLANDS. Continue west on FM179 and follow it as it turns north. Turn west on CR34 and bird NEW MOORE WETLANDS (CR34). Return to FM179 and continue north. Turn east on FM213 and return to US87. Turn north on US87 and continue to FM3332. Bird SKEEN PLAYA, then continue north and bird LITTLE SKEEN PLAYA. Continue north on US87 until you reach CR24. Turn east and then north into the TAHOKA CEMETERY AREA. If you plan to further bird TAHOKA, the alleyways in the northwest part of town are the most promising. From the cemetery, travel north to US380, then west on US380 to Ave M. Turn north and continue to 4th or 5th St. Bird that general area and then return to US87 north by way of US380. Take the exit for FM400 (towards Wilson) and


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

continue on FM400 until you just pass Wilson. Turn north on CR Y and bird COUNTY RDS X AND Y (N OF WILSON). Return to Lubbock by taking FM211 west to US87 north.


TAHOKA LAKE PASTURE (restricted access)

Tahoka Lake Pasture is the top birding location in Lynn county. However, access is restricted and must be secured in advance. CR20 between CR X and CR Y gives a chance to view parts of the area without entering the restricted area. The lake itself may hold all of the expected waterfowl and shorebirds. Snowy Plover typically breed in good numbers here. In addition to the lake, there is a large riparian corridor here that may support a good diversity of migrating passerines, including warblers, flycatchers and sparrows. A good birding day here could get you most of the way to your century.

Access: Contact for access to TLP. CR20 by road only.
Cost: free
Parking: Park in designated area for TLP. Roadside for CR20

FM1313 x FM1054 PLAYA

FM1054 x CR28 PLAYA
These two playas sit off of FM1054. FM1313 x FM1054 is a very large, very deep playa that may hold an abundance of waterfowl. Waterfowl numbers may trip the ebird filters here, and a scope is very helpful to pulling out birds on the opposite side of the playa. All regularly occurring species of goose and swan have been reported from this playa. Good shorebirds and gulls/tern numbers are also possible here. Reeds along the playa edge may support herons, egrets, sparrows and rails. Swallows may nest on the power substation in front of the playa. In the winter, longspurs may come in to water. The FM1054 x CR28 PLAYA typically holds lower numbers of waterfowl, but makes up for it with a large complement of potential passerines and raptors. Harris’s Hawk has been reported here.

Access: Road.
Cost: free
Parking: Roadside. There is a small parking lot at the power substation at FM1313 x FM1054

Park on CR AA and walk along US380, taking care to stay well onto the grass and away from any traffic. There are a large number of trees to the north and south of the road, which may hold passerines and raptors. The grasses and edge habitat near the trees may hold Blue Grosbeak, meadowlarks and other species.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

This gem sits on the far eastern end of Lynn county. Although Google Maps may suggest that CR31 or other access via and East/West road, those roads mostly do not actually exist. The easiest access is traveling south on CR EE itself from CR28 or CR29. Bird strictly from the road because this is private property. This site is a cut in the Caprock, which means this is the most reliable spot in the county for species such as Golden-fronted Woodpecker. Harris’s Hawks have also been seen in the area. The wetlands bring in marsh birds like Marsh Wren, Common Yellowthroat, but also Dickcissel, buntings, sparrows and others. Other woodpeckers, flycatchers, sparrows, warblers and other passerines may also be found in this location.


Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside



The stretch of playas off, or immediately close to, FM3332 is one of the best stretches of birding in Lynn county during reasonable water levels. At low water levels, these playas may dry out (especially SKEEN PLAYA), though FM3332 x CR Y and REDHEAD PLAYA tend to stay the wettest. If the playas are dry, there will likely be very few species present. LITTLE SKEEN PLAYA and SKEEN PLAYA are best birded from the shoulder of US87. Note that this is a highway, so take extreme care if you exit your vehicle. For SKEEN PLAYA, the eastern side is deeper and stays wetter longer than the western side. Shorebirds, ibises and waders are often found when water is present, and ducks, cormorants and other waterfowl when the water levels are high enough. Passerines tend to be grassland birds or icterids. FM3332 x CR Y PLAYA holds more deep water, but it is hard to access and the close shore holds a lot of dead trees. Those trees may hold swallows, warblers, thrashers, wrens, sparrows or other passerines. The water may hold diving ducks, but a scope is very helpful. REDHEAD PLAYA may hold Redhead in the summer, along with other diving ducks and grebes. Shorebirds may be close in. It is best to park before you descend to the playa and instead walk down to reduce flushing any birds close to the road. If the road is muddy, this will also facilitate leaving. FM3332 X SAM RD PLAYA has a lot of trees, so tends to hold shorebirds and dabbling ducks more than divers. The trees also may hold passerines like Bullock’s Oriole, Blue Grosbeak and flycatchers. The views are better along Sam Rd than FM3332.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

This playa sits just north of the Dawson county line along Hwy 87. There is a short frontage road along US87. Bird the site primarily from this road (do not trespass!), though FM2053 also gives some views of the farm. Typically this playa has water and decent shorebird habitat at most levels. Check the edges for migrant shorebirds and the water for waterfowl. Dabbling ducks are typically more common, but divers can be found here, too. The trees between the playa and the road may hold warblers, flycatchers and sparrows in the correct season. Closer to FM2053 are where the cattle typically roam. Check this area for icterids and doves.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside


These sites sit on the far western edge of the county and may provide some of the wetlands species that may be harder at bigger playas and other parts of the county. They may also provide migrating warblers, sparrows, buntings, flycatchers, rails and game birds. The FM179 x FM2053 WETLANDS have held Burrowing Owl in the past.


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside


The town of Tahoka may hold a mix of urban birds and migrants. Drive the streets and walk the alleys to check for hummingbirds, warblers and other passerines. The cemetery area may be an easier location to walk around, and it has a little water that may hold egrets, shorebirds and Mississippi Kites. Raptors, flycatchers, warblers and others are all possible. In the winter, the usual cemetery birds may be found, including all three bluebird species.

Access: The cemetery may be freely walked. Roads, alleys and sidewalks for the town. Cost: free
Parking: Roadside parking along town or cemetery roads.

These two county roads run alongside a wastewater treatment pond (which is not viewable from the road), a farm and open water. Since the roads are dirt, they become rapidly impassible following rain. The open water may hold ducks, geese, herons, Mississippi Kites and shorebirds in the correct seasons. The treatment pond makes this location a favorite for swallows. A prairie dog town means Burrowing Owl is possible. Sparrows and icterids may also be seen.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside


Garza is situated almost entirely below the Caprock, and is one of the southern counties in the region. Both of these advantages give it a wider possibility of species. However, it is very underbirded, which leaves many rarities unfound. Lake Alan Henry has a lot of potential, but has very limited access without a boat. Camping is available near Lake Alan Henry. Post is 45 min SE of Lubbock, and has a few amenities if you do not plan to stage out of Lubbock. Post is also a central location for many of the hotspots. In general, it is easier to get more ducks in this county than the species mix might suggest. This helps balance the lack of walkable, well-wooded areas in the county.

Route (from Lubbock): This route starts at Lake Alan Henry, heads back to Post and then focuses on the playas/Caprock edge west of Post. Cutting out Lake Alan Henry will shorten the trip considerably. Take Hwy 84 SE from Lubbock to Justiceburg. Turn east on FM2458. Continue on FM3519 until you reach LAKE ALAN HENRY. Bird the area, then return to Hwy 84 and travel NW, stopping to bird the rest area near CR298, which is GREEN TANK (GARZA CO). Continue NW on Hwy 84 until you return to Post. Just before you enter Post, turn west to bird NICHOLS PARK. Cross the street to start birding POST CITY PARK, though the main access is from the east end of 3rd St, on the north side of the playa. Travel north on Ave H to Hwy380, then turn east and continue to the POST AIRPORT PLAYA. After birding the playa, return to Post and turn north on Hwy207 and continue north on Ave F. Turn east on CR226 and bird GARZA CO CR226. Return to Ave F and continue north to bird the BRAZOS

th th RIVER CROSSING. Return to Post via Ave F. Turn west on 15 , south on Ave I and east on 13 St.

Bird the wooded fringe at the corner of 13th ST AND AVE H. Drive west back to Hwy 84 and continue south, then turn west on US380. If you need Cave Swallow (not a winter resident), continue west to HWY380 DRAW W OF POST, otherwise travel south on Ave M/FM669. Continue on FM669 until you reach FM669 PLAYA. Return north to CR278, turn west and then south on CR175 and take it to

Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

CR290. Bird the playas along CR290. If the water levels are high, you can travel south on CR145 and check for water in CR145 before continuing along CR290. Otherwise, turn north on CR125 and check for water in that playa. If you want to continue birding county roads, travel west on CR280, then north on FM1313, otherwise travel north on CR125 and turn west on FM1313. Turn north on CR105 and bird GARZA CO CR105 (TREES S OF US380). Travel east on US380 to FM399. Turn north and bird FM399 between US380 and US84. Return to Lubbock on US84.



Lake Alan Henry holds some of the best potential in Garza, but unfortunately the access (and distance from Lubbock) reduces the frequency with which it is birded. The SAM WAHL REC AREA TRAILS and NORTH CENTRAL PUBLIC BOAT RAMP are both fee areas; the cost is cheaper if you are a Lubbock resident. The riparian area below the dam (and dam access itself from land) requires written permission to enter. A boat will enable navigation of the waterways, which may increase the species mix seen. Views of the lake from the Sam Wahl recreation area are somewhat limited. Access Lake Alan Henry from FM2458, which will become FM3519. Hawks, shrikes, woodpeckers, meadowlarks and other icterids may be seen from these roads. Turn east from FM3519 and enter the pay area into the Sam Wahl Recreation area to access both the NORTH CENTRAL PUBLIC BOAT RAMP and the SAM WAHL REC AREA TRAILS. These areas may be good for passerines, including wrens, pyrrhuloxia, and sparrows. Exiting the pay area, and traveling north on CR335 until it bears east (access much down the eastern stretch of CR335 is by permission only) can be good for Greater Roadrunner, sparrows, bluebirds and Lark Bunting.

Access: The fee station is accessed by turning east from FM3519. There are trails available once inside. A boat will also help birding here.
Cost: $8-$12/person, depending on Lubbock residency and day of the week. See fee schedule:

Parking: There is a parking area after the fee station. For birding the roads, roadside parking only.

This rest stop hosts some reliable water, and has some tall trees, making this a reasonably decent spot to check during migration. The fields nearby may hold sparrows, and icterids while diving ducks, rails, and herons/egrets may be found at the water.

Access: Small area that can be freely walked. Cost: free
Parking: Parking lot after US84 exit



Post is the best birding spot in the county. The best location in Post is POST CITY PARK, which can have nearly all the water birds you need for the county. If the water levels are lower, shorebirds are possible during migration. The reeds can shelter rails, icterids, wrens and sparrows. Swallows frequent the powerlines, while flycatchers and woodpeckers may also be seen here. Access is best from the


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

north (drive to the end of 3rd St and follow it down), but it can also be accessed directly across from NICHOLS PARK. NICHOLS PARK is across the street from POST CITY PARK, and is sometimes worth stopping at. The sports fields may hold urban birds, while the pond may hold a few waterbirds not present at the main city park. You might need to stand on your vehicle to get a good view of the water. Other locations of note in Post include the HWY380 DRAW W OF POST. This is a good spot for Cave Swallow. The US84 PULLOFF NW OF TOWN may hold migrant passerines, and is one of the semi- wooded areas that can be walked. The corner of 13th St and Ave H may also be good for migrating passerines and Mississippi Kites because it hosts a woodlot. Respect private property. Like other cities in the South Plains, driving the side streets and/or walking the alleys can also produce good results.

Access: Post City Park, Nichols Park and US84 pulloff are small and can be freely walked. For in-town locations, bird from roads, sidewalks and alleyways only.
Cost: free
Parking: Roadside in town. Nichols Park has parking further up and wide enough roads to park sooner. Post City Park has a parking lot accessible from the end of E 3
rd St (technically S G Pl on Google Maps). The US84 pull-off is a parking area

East of Post, just across from the airport, is a turnoff and a nice playa. This playa often holds diving ducks, and the grasslands in the surrounding area are especially good for sparrows like Grasshopper Sparrow and Lark Bunting in the appropriate season. Flycatchers may also be found along the playa.

Access: Bird from the road shoulder/pull-off only. The playa and surrounding land is fenced. Cost: free
Parking: There is a dirt/gravel pull-off on the south side of Hwy 380, opposite from the airport.

NE of Post are two riparian spots that may hold migrating passerines. CR226 is a low traffic road with a playa at the turn. The playa may hold ducks, shorebirds like American Avocet, or egrets like Cattle Egret and sparrows nearby. Importantly, there are trees along the road which may hold woodpeckers, warblers and other migrants.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

While the river itself might be disappointing at times, there are a couple of ponds on private property that can be viewed from the road. The ponds and surrounding area may hold ducks, icterids, doves and shorebirds, while the bridge may host Cliff Swallows.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside



Shorebirding in Garza county is easiest atop the Caprock, and there are several playas SW of Post. Some of these playas should give mudflats in most water conditions, with some (CR125 and CR145 playas) only holding water in wetter years, while others along CR290 may have water in relatively drier


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

times. FM669 PLAYA sits just before the Caprock edge, and may host passerines along with shorebirds, while Northern Bobwhite may call in the distance. The scrub on the opposite (east) side of the road may also hold sparrows and other migrants. CR290 is generally worth driving along because it may hold a larger pair of playas between CR155 and CR165, a smaller playa between CR141 and CR145, and then crosses a shallow cut in the Caprock between CR125 and CR135. Check the playas for shorebirds, and walk the scrub along the Caprock edge to look for passerines.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

The south end of CR105 ends in private property. The playa seen on Google maps is not visible from the public road. The south end of the road can be birdy, though the middle section holds mostly fields. Just south of US380 is a stand of trees and a pond. The trees may hold migrants and rarities like Couch’s Kingbird, while the nearby fields may hold sparrows and icterids, including Common Grackle.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

There are a couple points of interest on FM399 between Hwy 84 and US380. Close to Hwy 84 (between FM2282 and CR210) lies a distant playa that may hold shorebirds. A scope will be helpful for this location. Closer to US380 (just south of CR240) lies a prairie dog town, which means the potential for Burrowing Owls in the summer and Ferruginous Hawks/Golden Eagle in the winter.

Access: Road only Cost: free Parking: Roadside

Potentially Challenging Species in the Southern High Plains

Snow/Ross are both present, so individual geese must be carefully examined. Large flocks of Snow will often have several Ross’s Geese mixed in.

Cackling/Canada: Lesser Canadas are prevalent, as are Cackling. Bill shape (short and stubby) and bulging forehead on Cackling are the best fieldmarks. Dark breast, neckbands and size are not reliable. Cackling Geese tend to form less ordered flocks in flight.

Hybrid Geese are a particular challenge in the Southern High Plains. Any “dark” or “blue” phase Snow/Ross’s Goose should be carefully scrutinized to rule out hybridization with Canada/Cackling. Key features present in hybrids are weird bill shapes, aberrant dark feathering on the head, and most especially lack of white frosting on feathers on the body/rear of the goose. The presence of a dark tail band in flight may also be a helpful ID feature. Please photograph these birds and post to ebird with your best determination of parentage. To assign parentage, check size relative to other geese, presence/absence of a grin patch and bill structure.

Although Tundra Swan is more common, both swans are rare to the region and should be carefully examined.


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

Most ducks present the usual challenges, though the Mallard complex requires special care here. Domestic mallards are present at most in-town playas year-round. All extremely weird looking ducks (except domestic Muscovies) are most likely domestic Mallard offspring or hybrids. Domestic mallards have heavier bodies than wild mallards. Mexican Duck can also occur in the region, and must be identified with care, as hybrids are more common in the region. Main points to check for Mexican Duck are yellow bill (on male), and lack of a curly tail. To rule out hybrids, check tail color (gray/brown on Mexican, any white is a Mallard trait), chest/body contrast (reddish tones in the breast is a Mallard trait), extent of black around the bill (Mexican may have a small black gape spot) and speculum (thin white is Mexican, thick white Mallard, black borders with very thin white is Mottled). Speculum shots are particularly helpful for evaluating Mexican vs Mottled Duck. For other ducks, Greater Scaup is rare, but possible. Scoters and Long-tailed Duck are very rare. Common Merganser is more common than Red- breasted Merganser, but both occur. For females, look for the white chinstrap on Common Merganser.

Most cormorants in the area are Double-crested Cormorant, but Neotropic Cormorants do occur. Neotropic Cormorant may be identified by shape (smaller, darker head), lack of orange in the lores, deeper “V” shaped gular patch, and in some cases, the white V bordering the gular.

Both Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned occur in the area, so care should be taken in separating juveniles. Black-crowned is more common.

In winter, Red-tailed Hawk is the most common hawk, but Ferruginous Hawk can look similar. Both Harlan’s Hawk and Rough-legged are also possible, so identify dark raptors with care. In summer, Red- tailed and Swainson’s Hawks are the most common buteos. The usual care should be taken with accipiters, especially in winter.

The usual care should be taken separating these birds. Least Sandpiper is the most common peep. Baird’s Sandpiper occurs far more regularly than White-rumped Sandpiper, but the latter can occur in large flocks in the region. Greater Yellowlegs is more common than Lesser Yellowlegs, but both occur. Long-billed Dowitcher is the default dowitcher in the area.

Most Archilocus hummingbirds are Black-chinned Hummingbirds, but Ruby-throated Hummingbirds regularly occur at a low density and tend to be more common later in the season. Separate by wing shape, relative tail projection past tail, size and shape of bill and amount of green on the crown. Rufous, Broad-tailed and Calliope Hummingbirds also occur in the region at lower densities.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker is the default Melanerpes woodpecker, but Red-bellied Woodpecker occurs often enough that Melanerpes should be checked for extent of red on crown and nape and tail pattern. Yellow-bellied and Red-naped Sapsucker both occur in the region, as do sapsucker intergrades. Check multiple ID points, including whether the red throat has a black border and if the barring on the back is one messy column or two neater columns. Flicker intergrades are also common in the region as are both parents, though Red-shafted generally outnumbers intergrades and Yellow- shafted. Yellow-shafted traits include red on nape, black malar, brown face, yellow shafts, while Red- shafted traits include red malar, grey face, red shafts. Intergrades mix and match these field marks and may have yellow, red, or orange shafts.


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

Both eastern and western Empidonax flycatchers occur, though Alder Flycatcher and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher are very rare. The default Myiarchus flycatcher is Ash-throated, but Great-crested Flycatcher can also be present at low densities during migration. Western Wood-Pewee is the usual pewee, with Eastern Wood-Pewee very rare. Get recordings if you hear/see an Eastern Wood-Pewee. Western Kingbird is most common, but Cassin’s Kingbird may also occur. Couch’s/Tropical are both very rare to the region.

Chihuahuan Raven vs Common Raven is extremely difficult. White shafts on neck feathers and very long (>1/2 of bill) nasal bristles help for Chihuahuan. Grey shafts of neck feathers and deep croaking helps for Common. Size comparisons to nearby raptors are also very helpful, since Chihuahuan is the same size as Harriers/Buteos while Common is noticeably larger. Habitat is not always reliable because Common Ravens are reported from many counties, even away from the Caprock. In general, Chihuahuan Raven is more abundant and the more likely species. American Crow is locally common, forming large winter flocks (sometimes with Chihuahuan Raven) in Terry, Lynn and Hale counties, but seen far less often in counties like Lubbock (third week in October is the optimal time to find a passing American Crow in Lubbock county).

Cliff vs Cave vs young Barn Swallow should be identified with care. All three swallows are possible.

In winter, both Northern and Loggerhead Shrike may be seen. Identify shrikes with care.

Bewick’s Wren is more common, but Carolina Wren occurs west to Lubbock.

All three bluebirds are possible in winter. Females can be very challenging to separate. Look for the extent of orange, placement of orange (Eastern has orange on sides of throat) and whether the belly is grey (favors Western) or white (favors Eastern). Primary projection and bill shape can also help separate Mountain from the other two.

Chestnut-collared, McCown’s and Lapland Longspurs all occur in the region. ID by rattle and amount of white in the tail.

Both western and eastern species occur, so special care must be taken for some species that are easy elsewhere. Townsend’s Warbler is more common than Black-throated Green Warbler, but both may occur. Black-throated Gray Warbler is far more likely than Blackpoll Warbler. Audubon’s Warbler is more common than Myrtle, but both occur, as do intergrades. For males, the amount of black in the auriculars and breast and extent of white in wingbars is helpful. Check for yellow in throat patch (Audubon’s) and if the throat patch extends past the eyes (Myrtle). Both Painted and Slate-throated Redstarts are casual to the region. ID by amount of white in wings.

All three Spizella sparrows (Clay-colored, Chipping, Brewer’s) occur regularly in the region. White- throated Sparrow is rarer than White-crowned Sparrow. Most White-crowned Sparrows are Gambel’s race. Dark-lored Interior/Eastern birds are rare, but regular. Both Song and Lincoln’s Sparrow occur.

Grosbeaks and buntings


Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19

Both Rose-breasted and Black-headed Grosbeak occur. Females/young males are challenging to ID. Look for the bicolored bill and amount of streaking on the breast to separate. Similarly, Painted, Indigo and Lazuli Buntings occur. While male buntings are easy to tell apart, females are more challenging.

Although Western predominates, Eastern occurs regularly. Western Meadowlark, but not Eastern Meadowlark, may “chuck” when flying away. ID without voice is quite challenging, especially in winter, because of feather wear. Amount of white in the tail is not reliable. In western counties, Lilian’s Meadowlark is also possible.

The smaller grackles in the Great-tailed Grackle flocks are usually female Great-tailed Grackles, not Common Grackles. Common Grackles tend to keep to themselves and are best ID by voice (the nasal ker-chee is diagnostic) and two-toned body.

When they overlap, some Lesser and American Goldfinches can be challenging to ID, especially in winter. Lesser Goldfinch has yellow undertail coverts and a greener back while American Goldfinch has white undertail coverts and a browner back.