West 11th Street Park in Houston
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Urban Houston Park
West 11th Street Park is at 2400 W. 11th Street, Houston, Texas 77008. For those who know the area, the park is between Ella Boulevard and West T.C.Jester. It is slightly over 20-acres. This park is a virtual bit of wilderness inside of the I-610 Loop. The majority of it consists of native Texas forest trees as well as understory plants that attract wildlife.
For those people living in the nearby Timbergrove and Lazybrook neighborhoods, it offers a great place to see the numerous species of birds that call this place home. Some are migratory, and others are permanent like the pair of great horned owls that reside here. A bird-sighting board is available to view. Below is some information that I took a photo of while there and will consequently pass it on to you regarding woodpeckers.
“The Woodpeckers of West 11th Street Park
Did you know that six species of woodpeckers are found at West 11th Stree Park and that five of these species actually build nests and bear their young here? The reason the park is so attractive to these interesting birds is that dead trees have been left standing wherever possible, so that food and nesting sites are available for them. This makes 11th Street Park one of the premier locations in southeast Tesas to see woodpeckers.
The most common species are the Red-bellied Woodpecker and the Downy Woodpecker. The beautiful Redheaded Woodpecker and the large, striking Pileated Woodpecker are increasingly rare in southeast Texas, but can commonly be seen at West 11th Street Park. Two species, the Yellow-breasted Sapsucker and the Northern Flicker, are typically around only in winter, although the Flicker has been seen nesting here later in the year. Early morning is a good time for sighting and photographing woodpeckers, especially the Pileateds.
Woodpeckers have interesing physical adaptationss that allow them to perch on the side of trees and drill into wood:
- They have short legs and very pointed nails that make it easier for them to clutch on to the bark of trees.
- A pair of firm and centrally located tail feathers supports them like a brace and keeps them upright on trees.
- Bristle-like feathers over their nostrils help woodpeckers ward off wood flakes created by pecking.
- A very thick skull and large neck muscles protect the brain of woodpeckers from shocks caused by persistent pecking behavior.”
Ownership of This Land
This land at West 11th Street Park has changed ownership several times. William Hogg, the brother of Miss Ima Hogg, the former owner of Bayou Bend in River Oaks, once owned this as well as other lands around it. Bayou Bend now belongs to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston due to the generosity of Miss Ima Hogg.
Mr. Hogg gave this land to the University of Texas. Subsequently, it was sold to the Houston Independent School District. Read the details here to see how residents in the community, as well as a newly formed non-profit entity established in 1998, called the Friends of West 11th Street Park, as well as participation by the Houston City Council, and the Houston Parks Board prevailed in the purchasing of this land to ultimately keep it free from development.
The Friends of West 11th Street Park has taken on the responsibility of its long-term management with the help of many volunteers. Paved natural pathways wind through the wooded sections of the park. Benches are situated in various places. One of the fantastic features added to enhance the visitor’s appreciation of this particular park is the Wireless Wilderness Cell Phone Tour. At stations throughout the park are signs which indicate a number to call. Upon dialing that number, one can listen to descriptions of trees, listen to actual calls of the various birds, and learn much more about what is in front of you. It is educational and fun.
Most of West 11th Street Park is wooded and left pretty much in its natural state. However, on the southwest corner of the park is a wide lawn area, a baseball diamond, a couple of benches, and the lone picnic table in the park. Parking is on the streets surrounding the park. No restrooms exist in the park. Except for dedicated birders, this park is probably primarily used by the local residents. My husband and I were visiting the park midday and in the winter. If we lived closer, it would be fun to see it at different times of the day and in different seasons of the year.
A Personal Thumbs Up!
The discovery of this park was a pleasant surprise. It brought me back to my childhood days in Wisconsin when my brothers and I roamed through a nearby woods adjacent to our home. It was our first introduction to the wilds of nature.
Naturalists, as well as photographers and birders, will enjoy this serene mostly wooded setting in the heart of Houston. The variety of foliage, antics of frisky squirrels, colorful butterflies, and more are enjoyable to experience at the West 11th Street Park. Please enjoy the video below. There are even more photos and videos on their facebook page.