Today’s mission is at the Trinity River Audubon Center in Dallas.

She is Dallas info: The Trinity River Audubon Center is located at 6500 South Loop 12, Dallas, TX 75217 & phone – 214-398-TRAC.   Admission ranges from $3 – $6 and kids 2 and under are free.   They are open Tuesday through Sunday with special hours for TRAC members.   Memberships start at $60.   They have a FB page here.

We got to explore the Great Trinity Forest, the largest urban hardwood forest in the United States, and locate or find evidence of 5 animals and then identify one fact about each animal. We had a backpack complete with field identification guides, magnifying glasses, a compass, a pack of colored pencils, and a notepad. We were on our way!

Just outside the door, Nicholas found a cicada. It was dead so he didn’t mind posing for pictures!

boy and cicada

On to the trails…

Nicholas always likes to have a walking stick when we go out on trails. Boys and sticks, sticks and boys – they are truly inseparable.

boy on trinity river audubon trail

We saw lots of different colored dragonflies…blue, green and black.

black and white dragonfly

We found lots of different webs which are evidence of spiders or caterpillars.

web at the trinity river audubon center

There were lots of cattails around the Cattail Pond, of course.

Trinity River Audubon Center

I learned that when cattails mature, they explode to spread their seeds by the wind. We saw several of these exploded cattails around.

cattails at Trinity River Audubon Center trail

We also could not identify this bird. At first we thought it was a heron but as we zoomed into the picture we didn’t think he had the right head and beak to be a heron. But it was helpful to have my camera with me so we could take pictures of the things we saw before they darted off so we could look back and identify them later.

bird over trinity river audubon center

Next along the trail, we came to the bird blind, the perfect place for hiding to watch and photograph birds and wildlife. We stopped here for a rest while we had our snacks and drinks.

trinity river audubon center bird blind

The kids loved going up and down the stairs and looking out all of the different windows.

inside TRAC bird blind

Nicholas had a keen eye to spot a bunch of snails on some branches.

snail at Trinity River Audubon center

There were lots of offshoots of smaller trails from the main trail so we had to keep an eye on the map to make sure we knew where we were. Nicholas used the compass and helped to keep us on track.

map at TRAC

There were lots of grasshoppers. These were Rachel’s favorites because they always seemed to hop around right next to her.

TRAC grasshopper

The Overlook trail was neat because you could see the tops of skyscrapers in downtown Dallas!

Trinity River Audubon center view of Dallas

Nicholas found an interesting hole. I wonder what kind of bug or animal made it?


Check out this giant yellow and black beetle. He was kind of scary looking and was just staring at Nicholas like he was about to jump on him.

beetle at Trinity River Audubon Center

After we finished on the trails, we stopped back by the main center to go through our identification books to complete the information needed for our mission.

trinity river audubon center information

Then we spent some time looking at all of the great exhibits inside the center. There is a cool bird tracker station like this one HERE where you can log the types and locations of birds you see and study what other bird watchers have logged.

bird sighting station at TRAC

This was a great hands-on exhibit which demonstrated for Nicholas the power of water in changing the land. He was able to move different water faucets in different directions to change the course of the “rivers” and therefore change the shape of the landform (sand, in this case).

exhibit at Trinity River Audubon Center

Nicholas was excited to see the skull of a longnose gar. He likes this scary looking fish for some crazy reason!

Longnose gar skeleton

There were several great exhibits like these that showed pictures of birds or animals and then you could press a button to hear the bird call or animal sound. What a great way to learn bird and animal identification!

push for bird sounds at TRAC

I’ve never seen a soft shelled turtle but this little guy looked like he had a piece of carpet on his back!

soft shelled turtle at TRAC

I love the trays of nature treasures. There were lots of these on display. We have tons of nature stuff that we’ve collected over the years and I’d really like to get them organized and in some kind of case like this with identifying names.

treasures at TRAC

Enjoy time with your kids in nature and encourage them to learn about the world around them and the impact they have on it.

TRAC plaque

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1 Comment

  1. Your unidentified bird is a great blue heron, as you first thought. Your photo is showing it from the back side, so what you see is the trailing edge of the wings and the legs and feet extended behind it. Looks like you had an interesting hike. TRAC is such a great place to learn about nature!