County Listing Guide to Bailey County
Published with permission from Peter Keyel, revised 01/26/19.
Return to County Listing Guide in the Southern High Plains
Dell's map of Bailey County including eBird Hotspots, routes taken from Peter Keyel's County Listing Guide in the Southern High Plains
TCC's Bailey County
The highlight of Bailey county is MULESHOE NWR. With decent water levels, you will get the majority of your birds here. The Headquarters and Camping Area is the best spot for passerines in the county. Field and wire birds can be found north and west as you travel to MONUMENT LAKE. MONUMENT LAKE is deep water, and may hold diving ducks not present at MULESHOE NWR. The town of MULESHOE rounds out the hotspots, and represents the best shot at urban birds in the county. The Muleshoe CBC is usually held on the third Sunday of December from 7:30 am to 1 pm and allows access to parts of the refuge that are usually inaccessible to the public. Relative to the general species mix, expect fewer geese, herons, doves and thrushes in the county. Sparrows, swallows and other migrant passerines can make up the difference. Ducks and other waterfowl will depend on the water levels at MONUMENT LAKE and MULESHOE NWR.
Route (from Lubbock):
The fastest is Hwy 84 northwest to Littlefield, FM 54 west to Hwy 214, Hwy 214 north to MULESHOE NWR. Instead of entering the refuge through the main entrance, go to the northern edge of the refuge and turn west on FM1229, birding MULESHOE BACKROADS along FM1229 and then south on CR149. Enter the refuge, and bird the MULESHOE NWR HEADQUARTERS AND CAMPING area. Then continue and bird MULESHOE NWR WHITE LAKES. Drive to Hwy 214, head north to the northern refuge boundary and turn east on FM1232 to enter and bird MULESHOE NWR PAUL’S LAKE Return to Hwy 214 and go north to Needmore, FM298 west and south until CR97 splits off and continue south on CR97 until you reach MONUMENT LAKE. Alternatively, continue north to FM1223 and take FM1223 west to CR97. Turn south on CR97 to reach MONUMENT LAKE. After birding MONUMENT LAKE, travel north to the town of Muleshoe. I’ve never been to COYOTE LAKE FEEDYARD (298 west to FM1731 north), but it might be worth checking out. Return to Muleshoe either by FM298 east to Hwy 214 or FM1731 north to FM1761 east. MULESHOE can generally be birded for urban birds. At W 12th St and Ave D, briefly check MULESHOE LAKE. Then return to Hwy 84 and return SE to Lubock or further explore Bailey county and find new hotspots. In general, BAILEYBORO LAKE is private and hard to see from the road without a scope. CR1058 just east of Muleshoe may hold some water in wetter years.
MULESHOE NWR (PAUL’S LAKE)
Paul’s Lake usually holds the best mix of waterfowl at Muleshoe NWR. As you turn off from Hwy 214, look for sparrows and grassland birds on your drive to the lakes. There is a prairie dog town that often holds Burrowing Owls and hawks in season. When you reach the lake, a scope will help. In the winter, the refuge is closed past the parking lot. Please pay attention to the posted signs indicating when the dike may be walked. Morning light at this location will be very harsh because you will be looking east/southeast over most of the lake. This is the best location for waterfowl in the county. Both waterbirds and shorebirds can be found when water levels are reasonable. Even in low water, there is a spring that will provide some moisture in the back corner of Upper Paul’s Lake. Lower Paul’s Lake is usually the drier of the two. Scaled Quail and Northern Bobwhite may run through the brush. In the winter, thousands of Sandhill Cranes will roost here at night.
Access: limited walking (refuge closed past parking lot in winter)
Parking: Parking lot at end of road
Slowly driving FM1229 and CR149 can turn up many of the grassland species often found by “just driving the county roads”. There is some tree cover along the road that may hold birds. The south side of FM1229 is the refuge, while the north side is private. Stay on the road at all times. Quail, hawks, shrikes, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Horned Lark, pipits, sparrows, Blue Grosbeak and icterids can all be found here in the right season.
Access: Road only
MULESHOE NWR HEADQUARTERS AND CAMPING
This is the best site for passerines in the county. If you are coming in from the back, park on the side of the road near the camping area. Camping is free, but there is no potable water or RV hookups. A trail runs along both sides of the draw behind the campsite. Bird this trail and then proceed east to the small copse of trees. This area may hold flycatchers, warblers, Bell’s Vireo, and other migrants as they pass through. Late April/early May is the best time to look for migrants. As you continue along the road, the yard of the residence may hold Curve-billed Thrasher, Common Nighthawks and sparrows. At the headquarters, there is a metal basin that is often full. Sparrows will come in to the water, which makes them easier to see. Be sure to sign-in at the Headquarters to help the park get money.
Access: A couple short trails accessed from the campground. To reach the campground, continue from the headquarters along the road.
Parking: The HQ has a parking lot, as does the campground.
MULESHOE NWR WHITE LAKES
Follow all posted signs for this area, especially when the area is closed. Horned Larks and meadowlarks may be present on your drive up to the lakes. These lakes may hold Snowy Plover and other shorebirds because the water levels are usually a bit lower than Paul’s Lakes. When water is present, ducks and migrating Black Terns may also be found here.
Access: limited walking (pay attention to closures and non-public areas)
Parking: Parking lot at the end of the road to White Lakes off from the main refuge road.
Bring a scope for this site and bird the site from the road. This site tends to hold deeper water than Muleshoe, and some diving ducks that are hard to find on the refuge (eg Canvasback, Redhead) are easier to find here. Shorebirds, herons and dabbling ducks may also be present. The scrubby grassland around CR97 will hold the usual mix of sparrows and flycatchers in due season. In winter, look for Ferruginous Hawks, Golden Eagle and other raptors.
Access: Road only
This is the county seat for Bailey county. Bird this town like others, checking alleys and local concentrations of trees for passerines. Listen for Blue Jays. There is a park with a pond called “MULESHOE LAKE” that is sometimes worth stopping at. CR1058 on the east side of town may have some water in wetter years, but is usually just a field with Western Meadowlarks.
Access: alleys, sidewalks, road
This location is an urban park with very little cover and a pond. It is very hit or miss. However, it is worth checking because the pond will occasionally hold a good bird, like Pied-billed Grebe. Doves that are otherwise hard to find in the county and other urban birds can also be found here.
Access: This small park can be freely wandered
Parking: Parking lot accessible off of Ave D at W 14th St.