BIRDS OF MCCULLOCH COUNTY, TEXAS


BY JIM HUGHES



Vermilion Flycatcher

In June of 2001, just a few months after I took up birding, my wife, Jan, and I purchased the 341 acre Nichols Ranch, bordered by one and one-third miles of the San Saba River, in McCulloch County, Texas. After visiting with experienced Texas birders and following the posts on a popular Texas birding listserve, it became clear that McCulloch County is a "black hole" in the birding world. I have not met another birder in the county, and, other than mine, I have never seen a post on the listserve for the county. My hope in creating this web site is to inform the birding public of what birds may be seen here. While this county will never be a birding "hotspot", it does present opportunities because it is in a transitional area. For instance, on our ranch we have single sightings of Brown-crested Flycatcher, Ringed Kingfisher and a pair of Varied Buntings. We have seen or heard over 160 species at the ranch, and given our inexperience and our limited time in the field, I know there are many more to be discovered.


McCulloch County is the central-most county in Texas as is evidenced by the fact that the geographic center of the state is within McCulloch's boundaries, just outside the town of Brady, the county seat. The southern two-thirds of the county is in the Edwards Plateau and the northern one-third is in the Rolling Plains. The Colorado River is the northern boundary of McCulloch County, and the San Saba River crosses the southern portion of the county. The 2,020 acre Brady Reservoir (known locally as Brady Lake) is in central McCulloch County eight miles west of Brady.


Although my ultimate goal for this web site is for it to encompass all of McCulloch County, currently it is limited to the birds of the Nichols Ranch in McCulloch County. The Bird Checklist includes only birds we have seen or heard on the ranch, but I did interpolate using checklists from surrounding areas to establish seasonality. I have birded in Brady, at Brady Reservoir and at the Brady landfill, but so infrequently that the knowledge I gained is not sufficient to expand the checklist. As I continue to work toward retirement, I will have more time to bird these and other areas of McCulloch County. Furthermore, it is my hope that others who bird in the county will share with me their findings. By appointment, we will welcome experienced birders who would like to check out the birds at the ranch.


The habitat diversity of the ranch, descriptions and photos of which are at Ranch Habitats, creates the ideal setting to see a large variety of bird species. The primary habitats are the previously mentioned river, a 50 plus yard wide riparian woodlands, native grasses and brush, and 50 acres of improved pastures planted in Klein grass. There are abrupt habitat changes along some of the fence lines, which have produced some of the best birding on the ranch. Probably the best season for birding at the ranch is from January through April after frosts have knocked down much of the tall grasses and weeds.


Thank you for visiting our web site. Please visit again periodically as the site will be updated frequently. Jim may be contacted at jim(at)mccullochbirds(dot)com.

Click here to go to top of page.