BIRDING | NATURE | TRAILS
Hours of Operation
The gates are open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, daylight to dark based on the seasons. The Visitor Kiosk has no set schedule but is staffed by volunteers when open.
$3.00 per person or
$5.00 per carload
(Requires 2 week prior reservations)
Self tours $1.00 per person
MCBNC tours $2.00 per person
Education Group rates
Self-guided tours: $ 1.00 per person
Center led curriculum: $ 2.00 per person
Contact us via Email or Phone 979-245-3336 to make reservations.
If birding is your passion and you want the ultimate birding experience, come bird in Matagorda County. Since 1997, Matagorda County has been number one in North American Audubon Christmas Bird Count.
Matagorda County’s location on Texas’ middle coast, places it on the central flyway for migratory birds. Along the streams and part of the eastern section of the county there is timber while the western section contains lush prairie grasses. There are many acres of agricultural land and coastal prairies. Southern Matagorda County contains marshes and vast stretches of sandy shoreline. There are jetties at the mouth of the Colorado river which stretch out into the gulf.
Matagorda County is good birding spot at any season and an excellent one during migration. Our Bird Species list contains 333 species which are seen in Matagorda County and the time when they are most likely to be seen.
The Butterfly Garden, which is host to many species of butterflies, is also the site of the Julia Hill Memorial Sun Dial. Julia Hill was the founder of the Bay City Nature Club and the Nature Center is a lasting tribute to her love of Nature. The Butterfly Garden has many varieties of flowers that attract butterflies such as, Cloudless Sulphurs, Gulf Fritillaries, Pipevine Swallotails, and Ocola skippers.
At the entrance to the Butterfly Garden is a grape arbor that was donated by Bob Fraley in memory of Louise Fraley. It is a lovely place to sit quietly and watch the birds and butterflies.
David Sitz and Tom Longbrake designed and constructed the Cactus Garden in 1998. Tom Longbrake, who is a retired vegetable specialist with the Texas A&M Extension Service, donated 150 varieties of cacti for the garden. Acquiring and raising cacti are Tom’s hobby, and he has cacti from all over the world.
The Rose Garden was designed by Doris Watkins and constructed by Quentin and Doris Watkins. The Antique Rose Emporium in Independence, Texas donated 13 antique roses for the garden.
The Rose Garden focuses on antique rose varieties that date back to 1752, but also features new roses that have the hardy characteristics of old roses. The roses selected for the garden are those that thrive in hot, humid weather. Combining the rose garden with a Nature Center is an on-going challenge, as the deer love our roses as much as we do.
The Garden includes an arbor and two pillars that feature antique rose climbers. Future plans include adding heirloom plants that combine well with roses.
The Garden is a collection of over 35 varieties of garden roses and is still growing. Some of the selections found in the Garden:
Chinas: Old Blush (1752) Pink; Archduke Charles (1837) Red; Napoleon (1835) Pink
Teas: Mrs. B.R. Cant (1901) Pink; Isabella Sprunt (1855) Yellow
Polyanthus: The Fairy (1932 Pink; Marie Pavie (1888) White; Cecile Brunner (1881) Pink
Bourbons: Madame Ernest Calvat (1888) Pink
Climbers: New Dawn (1930) Pink; Red Cascade (1976) Miniature red climber
Found Roses: Caldwell Pink (Found Polyanthus) Pink
Introductions: Belinda’s Dream (1992) Pink; Knock Out (2000) Floribunda Red & Pink
Presently the Garden is being maintained by Joy Hairston, Faith Bickley and Carolyn Stracik. Faith is an active member of the Texas Rose Rustler Society.
The Herb Garden was the special project of Doris and Quentin Watkins. Doris designed the garden to include many varieties of herbs, and it is laid out in a four quadrant circle. Sam Maglitto donated a stone flower basket for the middle of the circle. The garden is very fragrant and pretty. We are presently looking for a special someone to redesign the Herb Garden. Contact us if you are interested in this project.
Palm & Bamboo Garden
Fred Walker and David Sitz are responsible for the construction and maintenance of the Palm Garden. David Sitz and Lamar Evans donated the palms. Most of the palms are Texas Sabal, which is the only native palm of Texas. It can survive in temperatures above 5 degrees and grows up and down the Texas coast.
There are several varieties of palms in the garden: Mediterranean Fan Palm (Chamaerops Humilis); California Fan Palm (Washingtonia Filifera); Mexican Fan Palm (Washington Robusta); Canary Island Date Palm (Phoenix Canariensis); Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus Fortunei)and Pindo Palm (Butia Capitata).
The Palm Garden also has several species of non-invasive bamboo such as, Weaver’s Bamboo (Bambusa Textiles); Oldham’s Bamboo (Bambusa Oldhamii); Buddha’s Belly (Bambusa Ventricosa).
Landscaper Myrna Mayo designed and constructed the Hummingbird Garden with the objective of attracting birds and butterflies. She chose plants especially attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies, and the plants have flourished since 1998. She maintained the garden until 2005, when Dr. Tillman Daniel took over supervision of the garden.
We are accepting donations of gardening tools. Charitable donation certificates can be arranged for your donations.