Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory

Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory

If you’re a bird enthusiast looking for a new place to explore, look no further than the Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory. Located just 13 miles east of downtown Austin, Texas, this little-known gem offers visitors the opportunity to observe a wide variety of bird species in their natural habitat.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory and what makes it such a unique and special destination for bird watchers.

History of the Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory

The Hornsby Bend wastewater treatment plant was built in the early 1950s to serve the growing population of Austin. Over time, the plant became a sanctuary for birds and other wildlife attracted by the water and food sources available in the area.

In the mid-1980s, a group of local bird enthusiasts began visiting the treatment plant to observe the many species of birds that had taken up residence there. The group soon formed the Travis Audubon Society and worked with the city of Austin to establish the Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory, which officially opened to the public in 1991.

Today, the observatory is managed by the city’s Watershed Protection Department and operates as a research and education center focused on the study and conservation of birds and other wildlife.

Bird-Watching at the Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory

One of the main draws of the Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory is the incredible diversity of bird species that can be seen there. Over 300 species of birds have been observed at the site, making it one of the best places in Texas for bird-watching.

Some of the most commonly sighted birds at Hornsby Bend include:

  • Green Herons
  • Black-crowned Night-Herons
  • Great Egrets
  • Snowy Egrets
  • Double-crested Cormorants
Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory
  • American White Pelicans
  • Ospreys
  • Northern Harriers
  • Bald Eagles
  • Great Horned Owls
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatchers
  • Vermilion Flycatchers Find out why
  • Eastern Bluebirds
  • Painted Buntings

Visitors can explore the observatory’s trails and observation decks to get a closer look at the birds and other wildlife that call the area home. Guided tours and bird-watching classes are also available for those who want to learn more about the different species and their behaviors.

Conservation Efforts at the Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory

In addition to providing a unique bird-watching experience, the Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory is also dedicated to the conservation of birds and their habitats. The site serves as an important research center for scientists studying bird behavior, migration patterns, and population trends.

One of the observatory’s most important conservation efforts is its role in the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan, a city-wide initiative aimed at preserving critical habitats for endangered species. Hornsby Bend provides a vital migratory stopover for many of these species, including the Golden-cheeked Warbler and the Black-capped Vireo.

The observatory also works with local schools and community groups to educate people about the importance of conservation and encourage them to take action to protect birds and other wildlife.

Visit the Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory

If you’re planning a trip to Austin, be sure to add the Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory to your itinerary. Whether you’re an experienced bird-watcher or just looking for a fun and educational outing, the observatory offers something for everyone.

With its stunning variety of bird species, beautiful natural surroundings, and commitment to conservation, the Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory is truly a hidden gem in Austin, Texas.

Tips When Visiting the Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory

  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes: The observatory is located outdoors, so be sure to dress appropriately for the weather and wear sturdy shoes for walking on the trails. Browse this site
  • Bring binoculars: While the observatory does have some telescopes available for visitors to use, it’s best to bring your own binoculars for the most immersive bird-watching experience.
  • Pack snacks and water: There are no food or beverage options available at the observatory, so be sure to bring your own snacks and plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Check the hours and schedule guided tours in advance: The observatory is open to the public from sunrise to sunset every day, but guided tours are only offered on select days and times. Be sure to check the website or call ahead to schedule a tour if you’re interested.
  • Respect the wildlife and environment: The observatory is a protected natural area, so be sure to follow all posted rules and guidelines and respect the plants, animals, and environment around you.


Do I need to make a reservation to visit the Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory?

No, reservations are not required to visit the observatory. However, if you’re interested in taking a guided tour, it’s recommended to schedule in advance.

Is there an admission fee to visit the observatory?

No, admission to the Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory is free.

Can I bring my dog to the observatory?

Pets are not allowed at the observatory, with the exception of service animals.

Are there restroom facilities available at the observatory?

Yes, there are portable restrooms available for visitors to use.

What is the best time of year to visit the Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory?

Bird-watching at the observatory is good year-round, but the best time to visit depends on what bird species you’re interested in seeing. Spring and fall are popular times for migratory birds, while summer is a good time to see nesting birds and their chicks.

Important Information Need to Know

  • Address: 2210 S FM 973, Austin, TX 78725, United States
  • Phone: +15129721960
  • Website: http://www.hornsbybend.org/ 
  • Operating Hours: Tuesday to Sunday – 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM; Monday – 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM (Hours might differ)
Scroll to Top