Bird’s-eye View: Audubon Texas Quarterly Newsletter July 2022
Audubon Texas
Bird's-eye View Quarterly Newsletter July 2022
DCAC
View from the Flyway
Dear friends,

July is an important month on the fiscal calendar at Audubon. It marks the time that we assess our prior year accomplishments and plan the work ahead. We are excited to announce that Audubon Texas is completing a three-year statewide strategic plan that we will share with the Audubon network this Fall. Through this work we have identified six areas of impact that we will advance through partnerships and our work around the state.
These areas will focus on:
  • Stewarding, conserving, and restoring vital habitats for the benefit of birds and people;
  • Connecting with communities and partners on conservation and climate issues that are important to bird populations and Texans;
  • Becoming a recognized resource for science, research, and policy supporting bird conservation;
  • Nurturing the next generation of environmental and conservation stewards in Texas;
  • Cultivating a diverse and collaborative culture to promote Audubon’s bird conservation mission; and
  • Building the Audubon of tomorrow by growing Audubon’s network and programs.
In addition to strategic planning, we are working to celebrate and diversify the connections between our Audubon centers, sanctuaries, and communities; expand grasslands conservation technical assistance programs in partnership with rural landowners; launch the Fall 2022 Lights Out Texas! campaign; and host the 2022 Audubon Texas Chapter Roundup.

Looking ahead to 2023, we are preparing for the 100th anniversary of Audubon’s Coastal Program in Texas, a milestone that we cannot wait to celebrate with all of you. We are also preparing for the 2023 legislative session in Austin where we will focus on policies that support healthy bird, fish and wildlife populations, sustainable water management, renewable energy, and climate resilience.

We hope that you see initiatives that interest you detailed here in this newsletter and invite you to connect with us. There is much work to be done and we continue to be thankful for the partnerships and support from around the State of Texas to expand the role of conservation in protecting bird populations and ensure that we have inclusive, resilient, and prosperous communities to call home.

Warmest regards,

Lisa Gonzalez

Vice President & Executive Director, Audubon Texas
Golden-cheeked Warbler at Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center Photo: Michaela Kral
sydney
View from the Birdhouse
By Sydney Fox, Public Affairs Intern

Hello fellow bird lovers! My name is Sydney Fox; I am the Public Affairs Intern for Audubon Texas and a student at the George Bush School of Government and Public Service. I graduated from Texas A&M University with my bachelor’s degree in Communication and Environmental Geosciences in May 2021, and now I am working on my master’s in Public Service and Administration with an emphasis on Public Policy Analysis and Environmental Affairs. 

My biggest driving factor in choosing Audubon for my summer internship was how the organization tackles conservation efforts from multiple sides of the issue. As someone who has studied both conservation science and policy, I’ve noticed a disconnect between the two spheres and my future career ambitions involve becoming a part of the effort to bridge that gap. Watching a campaign come to life through a diverse set of lenses has been an incredibly rewarding experience and, in the future, I aim to combine my educational background and skills to promote conservation interests.

In my internship I have been creating social media content, imagery, and drafting community resources as the team prepares to lead the Lights Out, Texas! campaign for the Fall 2022 migration season. My role in Lights Out Texas is primarily public outreach, supporting the campaign’s science, policy, and education. Additionally, I visited Chester Island Bird Sanctuary with Tim and Peggy Wilkinson. There I witnessed the impact of Audubon’s years-long efforts on the shorebird population. I was not expecting to see such a large number of bird species in one place, many of which I had only seen in pictures. My time at Audubon has given me the chance to see firsthand the efforts it takes to unite work from multiple fronts for conservation.
Visit to Chester Island Photo: Sydney Fox
ACL
View From Another Perch

Lessons Shared by Audubon Conservation Leaders

by Yvette Stewart, Community Outreach Coordinator

Audubon Texas, with support from the Young Women’s Preparatory Network, has completed its seventh year of the Audubon’s Conservation Leaders Program for Young Women (ACL). This year, the strategic priority for the group was ‘water’. And as we’re wrapping up a week-long camp with days spent enjoying, and contemplating our responsibility to, water, 5 newly-graduated seniors from our Houston cohort are sharing their stories and calls to action with the Audubon Texas Flock. Read more about what Diana A., Desiree G., Sharia J., Jessica R., and Alexandria S. had to share…
Audubon Conservation Leader's Camp
skimmers
Program & Policy Updates

Coastal Conservation

by Alexis Baldera, Coastal Program Manager

The squawks of pelican, heron, egret, cormorant, ibis, and spoonbill chicks can be heard across Audubon-leased islands all along the Texas coast. Our 177 islands are also home to thousands of tern chicks which can be seen running on the beach and testing their newly feathered wings. 

We are thrilled to report Black Skimmers nesting and hatching chicks at Chester Island and in Galveston Bay at Struvelucy Island. This is notable because Black Skimmer chicks were not observed on Chester Island last year and nesting success was reduced at Struvelucy due to human disturbance and tropical storms. Throughout the rest of the summer our Coastal Wardens will continue to patrol islands to monitor and protect these important bird habitats. When the young birds are all fledged and off the islands in the fall, we will begin our work to prepare the islands for the next breeding season. 
 

Policy Wrap

by Scott Moorhead, Policy Director

In April, Audubon Texas reported providing summary closing testimony in the contested administrative law case hearing regarding a seawater desalination discharge permit at Harbor Island in the Coastal Bend at Aransas Pass. Audubon Texas’s focus continues to be a permit that will be protective of marine life and the ecosystems and species that depend on this critical estuarine system. In June, the Administrative Law Judges recommended that the permit be issued, with caveats; namely, recommending that numerical thresholds for salinity should be placed on the permit to limit the changes created in ambient salinity around the discharge location, and to create a monitoring regime to track and validate the protectiveness of the permitted limits. The recommendation now proceeds to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Commissioners to issue a decision. We continue to monitor and engage on this critical decision point as Texas increasingly looks for new water supplies from novel technologies whose impacts need to be better understood at scale and in sensitive ecosystems.
Black Skimmers nesting on Struvelucy Island in Galveston Bay. Photo: Alan Wilde | Black Skimmer parent and chick on Chester Island in Maagorda Bay. Photo: Hank Arnold
LOT fall
Fall is Just Around the Corner - well, Fall migration season, at least

Gear up to Go Lights Out, Texas!      

Fall migration season begins August 15 and runs through November 30. Audubon Texas is excited and honored to coordinate the statewide community collaboration of the Lights Out Texas campaign.

We are preparing the materials for Lights Out partners, community supporters, and Audubon chapters which will go live on the Audubon Texas website on July 31. With one-third of birds migrating through the United States passing through Texas each year, let’s spread the word to help them travel safely. We are continuing the partnership with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology on community outreach planning and the continued use of their tools, such as BirdCast. But it is the enduring community engagement from all of the Lights Out partners and participants that continues to make a positive impact against threats to migratory birds.

On our Lights Out Texas webpage, you’ll find handy resources for social media, newsletters, letters to the editor, letters and resolutions for elected officials and building owners…and don’t forget to download your badge (thank you, Sydney!). We will be adding it to our email signatures and hope you will, too!
Say's Phoebe Photo: Gary Zahm / Audubon Photography Awards
activities
Songs from Our Centers

Mitchell Lake Audubon Center

Mitchell Lake Audubon Center partnered with the McNay Art Museum for an Art & Ecology Workshop: Walking & Making with Nature in conjunction with their current exhibit, NATURE CULT by local artist Donald Moffett. We had a great time leading a tour around their scenic grounds and gathering materials for our natural art, followed by a docent-led tour of the exhibit. Keep an eye out for future workshops with our partners across town. 

Mitchell Lake Audubon Center is a great resource for all things birdy. August is full of fun programs for all ages:
  • Guided Bird Tours
  • Bird Bingo
  • Saturday Habitat Clean-Up
  • Beginner Bird Walks 
  • Webinar: The History and Nature of Mitchell Lake Audubon Center 


Trinity River Audubon Center

Green spaces play an important role in our daily lives, providing both social and environmental benefits. With the help of local organizations, Trinity River Audubon Center hosted our Community Event on April 2. Visitors enjoyed free activities including horseback riding, guided hikes, and even a drum circle! 
 
Our dedicated volunteers helped enrich the community with smiling faces and shared their love of the outdoors, and we could not have done this without them! We would also like to send a special thank you to our partners who participated in the event, including Dallas Public Library, City of Dallas Office of Arts & Culture, Texas Parks & Wildlife, Chicana in Nature, Yoga with KJ, River Ranch Texas Horse Park, Window to the Wild, North Texas Master Naturalists, PHAT Man’s BBQ Truck, The Writer’s Garret, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Sal Barron Mexican Folk Art, Kamica King Musician, and Chrysalis Healing Arts. 
 
With the support of our volunteers, partners and community, we will continue to recognize, celebrate and uplift community green spaces. Mark your calendar for the second Saturday in April for our 2023 Community Event. 
 
Photos from the event! 


MOTUS Tower at TRAC! 

The Motus Wildlife Tracking System is an international network that tracks migratory animals to better understand their ecology and conservation needs. Trinity River Audubon Center recently installed a Motus Tower to track migratory birds utilizing the various habitats at our center. Documenting the presence of certain bird species and bird diversity helps us determine the effectiveness of our restoration work and which animals are relying on the work that we do. 
 
Watch a fun video of our installation! You can also track the different tagged species that our tower detects.


Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center

In mid-May, an experienced birder recorded observing a male Golden-cheeked Warbler at Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center. Birders who were alerted to the rare bird sighting made diligent efforts during the next week to locate the bird and confirm its presence on the property. Photographs and audio recordings were uploaded to eBird by various observers between May 18 and 21. Birders continued to report its presence through at least May 26.
 
Dogwood Canyon’s property is known to historically host nesting Golden-cheeked Warblers. However, prior to this spring, the species had not been documented in the area, or even Dallas County, for more than a decade. The conservation efforts at Dogwood Canyon have always been undertaken with the knowledge, and hope, that the species could return if the specialized juniper-oak woodland habitat required by the bird was preserved. While we do not know whether this specific bird was engaging in nesting activities this spring, and we only have speculations as to what may have caused it to expand its range this year, it is a promising story of the conservation efforts at Dogwood Canyon and in the greater nature corridor area of Cedar Hill and southwest Dallas County.
 
Documented sightings of this rare visitor can be found on eBird. Read more on the Audubon Texas blog page and listen to this podcast by Texas Green Report.

To view the complete list of events at all 3 of our Centers, visit the Audubon Texas website Events page.
Art projects at the McNay Art Museum, Community Event Activities at TRAC, Golden-cheeked Warbler Photo: Michaela Kral
White Kites
Updates from National Audubon Society

The 2022 Audubon Photography Awards

 
With their stunning looks and captivating behaviors, birds often enthrall us when they cross our path. Many people spend hours or years seeking them out. But just as often, we stumble upon unique moments in a stroke of luck. Sometimes all it takes is simply stopping to appreciate an everyday scene with fresh eyes. 
 
Almost 2,500 photographers and videographers submitted nearly 10,000 entries to this year’s contest—sharing the fruits of their boundless attention with us. In a world filled with endless distractions, that is a gift. Notice what is offered by the images and videos honored here, selected by three expert panels who judged anonymous image and video files. 
 
The Grand Prize winner was photographer Jack Zhi, who photographed two White-Tailed Kites in Costa Mesa, California (image pictured above). View all photography and videography winners here.
 
The Birdsong Project 

For the Birds: The Birdsong Project”– an Audubon partnership with Grammy-winning music supervisor Randall Poster – launched in May. The project is an outpouring of creativity by more than 200 artists, including musician Elvis Costello, writer Jonathan Franzen, and actor Matthew McConaughey to name a few. The project has been a collaboration to help bring to life an ambitious effort to connect with our supporters, reach new audiences, and spread the joy of birds to all. The first two volumes of music inspired by birds have been released, with proceeds benefiting Audubon. The project’s landing page has a Spotify playlist with the music, a full list of artists, and ways for people to learn about and become more engaged with Audubon’s work. There is also information on when future volumes of The Birdsong Project will be released. You can also read Audubon magazine’s story detailing the efforts to bring this project to life. 
 
Dr. Elizabeth Gray and Pattern Energy CEO Discuss Renewable Energy Projects 

National Audubon Society CEO Elizabeth Gray and Pattern Energy CEO Michael Garland co-authored a piece on the need for conservationists and energy companies to work together to responsibly expand renewable energy projects. The impacts of climate change are dire for people and birds, and renewable energy is one of the best options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. The piece explores how the clean energy industry and conservation organizations like Audubon can, should, and in many cases, already do, work together to fight climate change.



Coming Soon! – Bird Migration Explorer Tool

In September, Audubon will be launching the Bird Migration Explorer, a first-of-its-kind digital platform with the most complete data we have for migrating birds in the western hemisphere. The Explorer visualizes the journeys of migratory birds and how they connect us across the hemisphere. More information coming soon.


White Kites Photo: Jack Zhi / Audubon Photography Awards

Thank you for your continued support of Audubon. The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. For more information, events, and to find your local chapter visit https://tx.audubon.org/. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


 
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