Best Place to Watch Wildlife in the Urban Jungle (2004)
Hermann Park For a great wildlife expedition that'll fit into your lunch break, hop on the light rail and get off at Hermann Park. In addition to paddle boats and balloon vendors, the park's pond and woody trails provide a habitat for more than 30 species of birds -- and not just the typical urban squatters such as pigeons, sparrows and crows. You're almost guaranteed to see whimsical Texas natives like the black-bellied whistling duck, which nests on the park's island and routinely dazzles visitors with its swanlike neck and bright orange bill. Other popular park residents include spectacularly colorful wood ducks, the blue-billed green heron and the ahinga, or "snake bird," which paddles along completely underwater with its head sticking out like a submarine telescope. Binoculars and a bird guidebook help, but don't worry too much about supplies. You'll never be more than a couple of minutes away from a fruit smoothie or a burrito, even if, as the bird flies, you feel gloriously far from the city.