Bird’s-eye View: Audubon Texas Quarterly Newsletter October 2022
Audubon Texas
Bird's-eye View Quarterly Newsletter October 2022
Brown Thrasher
View from the Flyway
Dear Friends,

Fall is here and that brings cooler temperatures to Texas, great birding, migratory species, fall festivals, and planning for Christmas Bird Count, among many other wonderful activities. 


Everything we do to protect birds and the places they need requires the commitment of people — to support and participate in habitat conservation and restoration programs, to educate and motivate the next generation of conservationists, to use science to guide our thinking and engage in community science initiatives, and to advocate for science-based policies that protect birds and sustain our human communities.

The question that I find myself asking a lot these days is, how do we harness the power of people to improve the overall outlook for bird populations? The answer I keep coming back to is that we need to inspire individuals to join our social network. People come together at Audubon through our centers, local chapters, online communication resources, and (once again) through in-person activities and events. 

Our love for birds unites us and creates the foundation for what we do at Audubon, and we are immensely thankful for this community of supporters. However, it is often the bridges that we build between people and groups with different interests that generate new ways of thinking and create the most support for movements. In the coming months and beyond, it is my hope that see us building new bridges to diverse groups of people and organizations by connecting across issues that Texans care about. By doing this we will build the Audubon of tomorrow and increase the support for bird conservation in Texas.

Excellent examples of this new way of thinking are evident in our work and this issue of our newsletter. Lights Out Texas, the outreach and education campaign to reduce light pollution and migratory bird mortality, is reaching more Texans than ever. Partners are working to expand the reach of this program work with entities that care about issues such as energy efficiency. Audubon centers are working harder than ever to connect more deeply with communities, and local chapters are working on myriad issues including clean energy, water, resilience, and climate.

My ask of you this Fall is to think about the power that you bring to this movement to protect birds and the places we all need. Please consider joining or supporting a local chapter, participating in a bird count or other community science initiative, visiting an Audubon Center, or considering other ways to engage on the issues that we all care about. Birds tell us that we need to act now, and even small actions can generate big impact.

Warmest regards,

Lisa Gonzalez

Vice President & Executive Director, Audubon Texas
Brown Thrasher - One of many nocturnal migrants flying through Texas during fall migration.
corina
View from the Birdhouse

My Week of Service at Hog Island
by Corina Solis, Senior Assistant, Conservation, Mitchell Lake Audubon Center
 
As much as I love to travel and have new experiences, somehow I never found myself on the East coast. My center director sent me the link to the Hog Island Audubon Camp and encouraged me to attend, I eagerly agreed to go. As I learned about Hog Island and its mission, I found the idea of an adult educational camp intriguing and right up my alley. I registered for ‘Birds of Maine Island: A service week’, where I’d learn about and contribute to bird conservation through workshops and active restoration work. Off to Maine this Texas gal went. Read more…
Corina Solis at Hog Island Audubon Camp, Bremen, Maine / Photo: Audubon Photography
View From Another Perch

 
Climate Watch and Texas Audubon Chapters 

by Patsy Inglet, Bexar Audubon Society

Who knows your local birding patch better than a birder from your local Audubon Chapter? That answer is obvious: NOBODY. Audubon Chapters play an important role in the National Audubon Climate Watch community science program, which explores how North American birds are responding to climate change in the 2020s. 

The 2019 Audubon climate change report, Survival by Degrees, gave us some potentially bad news: up to two-thirds of North American birds are vulnerable to extinction due to climate change. That’s 389 species! Now for the good news: we can protect birds, and ourselves, from this threat if we act locally. 1. Educating our communities in the science of our changing climate. 2. Improved modeling by tracking the patterns of target species in our area. Long-term data sets like this are like gold to scientists, and local Audubon Chapters can mine that gold by encouraging chapter members to participate in this program. Read more...
ACR
Program & Policy Updates
Grasslands Conservation Program Update
State of U.S. Grassland Birds: Still Declining

The new State of the Birds report from the North American Bird Conservation Initiative¹ (NABCI) reveals grassland birds are among the fastest-declining bird species in the United States, with a 34% loss since 1970. Published by 33 leading science and conservation organizations and agencies, the 2022 U.S. State of the Birds report is the first look at the nation’s birds since a landmark 2019 study showed the loss of 3 billion birds in the United States and Canada over the past 50 years. 
 
The report identifies 70 Tipping Point species that have each lost 50% or more of their populations in the during this time, and are on a track to lose another half in the next 50 years if nothing changes. Translation: 70 birds could be next to face threatened or endangered species status. Among the grassland birds marked as Tipping Point species are the Bobolink, Chestnut-collared Longspur, Greater Sage-Grouse, Henslow’s Sparrow, Lesser Prairie-Chicken, Mountain Plover and Sprague's Pipit. In addition to the Tipping Point species, the report includes 20 additional On Alert bird species that have lost half their populations in the past 50 years. Grassland bird species in this category include the Baird’s Sparrow and the Thick-billed Longspur. Read more…

Coastal Conservation Program Update
Thanks to a generous gift, Audubon Texas is rebuilding our observation tower at Green Island! Our tower, dock, and building on Green Island were damaged during Hurricane Hanna, which passed directly over the island in 2020. Last winter, we were able to install a new dock. Now with improved access to the island we can begin rebuilding the observation tower this winter. All of the birds and chicks have currently migrated south for warmer temperatures. Our Coastal Warden, Brian Beller, has begun clearing vegetation and improving access onto the island. The new observation tower will allow us to welcome researchers, better monitor birds, and create outreach and education opportunities on Green Island without disturbing the birds. The timing of the grant and the related projects couldn’t be better – Audubon Texas is gearing up to celebrate 100 years of coastal conservation, which all began with a lease at Green Island in 1923.

Policy Update
On September 22, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Commissioners met to consider the Port Authority’s Seawater Desalination permit. Audubon Texas had challenged the permit within the contested case process on the basis that it was not sufficiently protective of the receiving waters in the Corpus Christi Bay System. The Commission decided to accept the recommendations issued by the Administrative Law Judges, who suggested that salinity limits be placed on the permit to cap the level of salinity change that could be created from the effluent discharge from the 95 million gallons per day of proposed discharge at the plant. While Audubon Texas remains concerned about the location and issuance of the permit, we will work with stakeholders involved towards a protective solution for this critical estuarine system. The EPA has also signaled its interest in the issue, and has notified the TCEQ that such a permit issuance may result in a permit that will not be accepted under Clean Water Act (CWA) and the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). Stay tuned.

The 2023 Texas legislative session is only 90 days away! Key issues and areas of focus for the Audubon Texas team are power generation and transmission siting, on-and offshore, thoughtful energy infrastructure decommissioning, and wastewater discharges. We are excited to engage with the network on these and other issues—your voice and participation matter! Let us know what else you are working on! We look forward to a productive and thoughtful session focused on a resilient and prosperous Texas for all Texans.


Urban Conservation Update

Lights Out, Texas! Update
We’re in peak migration season now through October 29, and Audubon Texas and our partners are excited about the continued support and local action for the Lights Out Texas campaign. The current total metrics from the first week of August through the first week of have been impressive! Total followers reached across all platforms: 6,700,429, with 305 total social media posts. Well done! Fall migration continues across Texas through November 30. Download your brag badge, continue using the #LightsOutTexas on your social media, and look for our final Fall 2022 Lights Out, Texas! report later this year. 

Bird City Texas Applications Due December 1st!
Want to see your community designated a Bird City? Entering its 4th year, Bird City Texas is a community-focused certification program created to help people protect birds and their habitats where we live, work, and recreate, through a partnership with Audubon Texas and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. There are 8 communities currently certified in the program. These communities’ education and conservation actions preserve green space that is beneficial to birds and people alike. The Bird City Texas communities are able to leverage this designation to attract more of the 2.2 million bird watchers in Texas, a major driver in the $1.8 billion economic impact from Texan wildlife viewing. Learn more about the program and how you can apply. Application deadline is December 1, 2022.
Lark bunting Photo: Evan Barrientos / Audubon Photography | Winecup Gamble Ranch / Audubon Conservation Ranching Program | Dry Creek Bees / Audubon Photography
migration
Songs from Our Centers
Mitchell Lake Audubon Center
A Lasting Legacy for Mitchell Lake Audubon Center 
 
Audubon supporter and Bexar County bird-lover, Jane Hurlbut, left a generous bequest to the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center. The latest gift from her estate of $100,000 will help fuel programs at the San Antonio center for months to come, including providing educational supplies for programs and offsetting operational expenses related to the native garden maintenance. 
 
“We are so grateful for the dedication Jane had for birds. From our first conversation with her in 2015, it was clear she had a passion for the birds of Texas and Audubon’s work protecting them and sharing those experiences with others,” says Audubon Texas Vice President and Executive Director Lisa Gonzalez.
 
Jane was a member of Audubon’s Grinnell Legacy Society – a special group of people who leave a gift to Audubon through an estate, retirement plan, or trust. “These types of gifts are incredibly powerful – and almost anyone can do it for little or no cost,” says National Audubon Society Director of Planned Giving Shari Kolding. “While Jane’s gift was quite large, the smaller bequests we receive add up and make a significant impact on our work.” 
 
For information on how to leave a legacy gift to Audubon, contact us at 512-236-9076 or Shari.Kolding@audubon.org. Any bequests made to Audubon Texas or a Texas Audubon Center will stay with that program. 


Trinity River Audubon Center
Welcome, songbirds!

October in the Blackland Prairie ushers in cooler weather along with migratory songbirds such as Yellow-rumped Warblers, Harris’s Sparrows and Cedar Waxwings. Trinity River Audubon Center has several amazing opportunities for you to familiarize yourself with our migratory residents this month. Join us for a hike or sign up for one of our guided programs. We look forward to seeing you!


Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center
Please welcome Adam George to the flock! Adam has been with Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center as Center Assistant since August of this year. His role covers marketing, event/volunteer coordinating, programming…and snake feeding! Adam brings a background in marketing, education, and media production to Audubon Texas. He has served as marketing coordinator for various non-profits and was also a Montessori school teacher. Adam is a member of the North Texas Master Naturalists, and has experience in mindfulness and meditation.

Dogwood Canyon recently hosted their most successful Fall Native Plant Sale on October 15th. They sold more than 70 different types of native plants, many of which are difficult to find locally. With the help of volunteers, DCAC organized pre-sale online orders and had an excellent turn out for their in-person sale. This sale promoted Audubon’s Plants for Birds initiative, providing multiple angles to engage the public in conservation within their community.
Ruby-crowned kinglet Photo: Howard Wu / Audubon Photography Awards
National
Updates from National Audubon Society
Bird Migration Explorer Tool
National Audubon Society launched 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. Created by Audubon and nine founding partners, using science contributed by hundreds of researchers and institutions, the platform paints the most complete picture ever of the journeys of 458 avian species that breed in the United States and Canada. It is envisioned a broad audience utilizing the Bird Migration Explorer: from conservationists looking to identify and protect the places migratory birds need, to members of the public curious about their seasonal neighborhood visitors.


Membership and Development Update
Audubon Texas is excited to spotlight our long-time partner, H-E-B. For the past two decades, H-E-B has supported Audubon Texas’s nature centers and their work connecting the next generation of Texans to nature through environmental education programming. Every year, Audubon Centers introduce thousands of students to the wonders of the natural world. Support from generous partners like H-E-B makes this work possible. Thank you!
Scarlet tanager Photo: Gary Robinette / Audubon Photography Awards
HEB
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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