Bird’s-eye View: Audubon Texas Quarterly Newsletter January 2023
Audubon Texas
Bird's-eye View Quarterly Newsletter January 2023
Whooping Crane
View from the Flyway
Dear Friends,

I hope that you are having a wonderful start to the New Year.

January at Audubon Texas in 2023 means that bird lovers across the state have wrapped up another Christmas Bird Count, the 123rd annual count, to be exact. This newsletter includes two blog articles that speak to what the Christmas Bird Count represents: an entry point for newcomers to join the Audubon community in its appreciation for and enjoyment of birds, and a nationwide program across a variety of habitats generating long-term data in support of science.

This month also kicks off Audubon Texas’s centennial birthday celebration: one hundred years ago in 1923, Audubon commenced its first rookery island leases on the Texas Coast, marking our first official conservation management actions in Texas and the beginning of a century of conservation partnerships and stewardship. In honor of all those who have worked to protect birds and their habitats, we will host a year-long celebration and commemoration of bird conservation history, partners, and science through storytelling, events, and convenings with an eye toward the next 100 years. We hope that you will join us.

In November, Audubon Texas hosted the “2022 Network Roundup”. One-hundred chapter leaders and partners from across the state joined us in Austin for a day-long symposium and workshop to discuss programs, challenges that birds face in the years and decades to come, and opportunities for the Audubon network to come together in support of bird conservation in Texas. The workshop yielded a set of key points and a list of nine engagement recommendations that Audubon Texas will act on in concert with our strategic plan to be released in early 2023. We invite you to review the Roundup summary report online .

The start of the year often motivates us to make resolutions for good practices, improvements, and worthwhile goals. The new year in 2023 for Audubon Texas not only brings with it these things, but also new opportunities for connection and partnership across the statewide network. We look forward to the next 100 years of conservation success and inspiring action.

Warmest regards,

Lisa Gonzalez 

Vice President & Executive Director, Audubon Texas 
Whooping Crane Photo: Kelly Krabbenhoft / Audubon Photography Awards
Eastern Bluebird
View from the Birdhouse

Birds For All, Y’all…Or Are They?
by Dallas Kelley, Director of Public Affairs, Audubon Texas

Perhaps the real question is: Can they be? As part of the Audubon flock we know birds should be. They deliver critical ecosystem services from which we all benefit. Birds tell us the state of the habitat, health and wellness, around us. They contribute to the biodiversity of our land. Birds connect us to nature, increasing our own physical and mental wellbeing. We know the pure joy of watching a bird take flight, feed its young, and sing their songs. We’ve shared in the moments when friends first take notice of a bird’s habits. That may sound like all the reasons you’d ever need to connect with birds. But that’s our view. Read More
Eastern Bluebirds Photo: Kenn Kaufman / Audubon Photography Awards
Northern Flicker
View From Another Perch

Thinking About The Urban Ecosystem.
By Berri Moffett, Houston Audubon, Conservation Specialist

Parking lots are bird habitat, buildings are bird habitat, cities are bird habitat. Despite the fact that most of us are not always excited to see Rock Pigeons and House Sparrows, these magnificently adaptable species are part of the urban ecosystem. Understanding population changes of these birds has great significance to our understanding of birds as a whole. Annually, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) endeavors to count birds all over the country and cover all kinds of habitat – including parking lots and buildings. Counters endure all the mailman does and more, from pre-dawn until after sunset, looking for and tallying every single bird they can. Read More
Northern Flicker Photo: David Zieg / Audubon Photography Awards
It's Our Birthday!
We’re celebrating 100 years of our Coastal Program at Audubon Texas. From where it all began with stewardship and conservation along the Texas coast, to where we are today with programs and centers across the state! Our team is compiling our history of  conservation and preservation, telling the stories of passionate Audubon leaders, and planning a fun year of engagements.

As part of this effort we have a call for pictures, bird reports and any other documents of Audubon’s early work on the Texas coast. If you have access to historic documents or photos of our Coastal Wardens, bird islands, or related Audubon coastal work, please consider sharing them with us for this project. Be sure to follow us on social media and check out the website for future announcements regarding special events and celebrations throughout the year!

This winter we continued our annual work preparing the islands for the return of our breeding coastal waterbirds. Our Coastal Wardens removed marine debris and invasive vegetation, and repaired and installed new signs to prevent disturbance to the nesting birds. We completed the construction of a new raised bird blind at Green Island. The old structure was damaged during Hurricane Hanna and the new blind will help us better monitor and count nesting birds. Having a structure that protects the birds from human disturbance gives us the opportunity to invite researchers back to the island who study Reddish Egrets and other birds nesting on the island.
Brown Pelican Photo: Peggy Wilkinson
program photos
Program & Policy Updates

Urban Conservation

Bird City Texas 

Our 2023 Bird City Texas (BCT) applications are currently under review and will be announced in early February. We look forward to more cities committing to habitat protection, threat reduction, and environmental stewardship across the state. Our 2023 cohort will be joining our eight certified cities: Bastrop, Dallas, Dripping Springs, Galveston, Houston, Port Aransas, San Antonio, and Surfside.
After gathering input from partners and communities, we will be updating the BCT program and application to be considerate of interested cities’ resources while still meeting the program’s goals - where birds thrive, people prosper.  

Bird City Spotlight:
Port Aransas was certified in 2020 with the help of valuable partners such as University of Texas Marine Science Institute and Texas  Master Naturalist. The city has expanded  Nature Preserve acreage, continued to manage invasive  plants   such as Brazilian peppertree, expand native plant demonstration gardens, and   added Palladium Port   Aransas Apartments to the community group. The apartments have installed dark sky lighting, native   landscaping and only allow indoor cats. Rae Mooney, Nature Preserve Manager with the City of Port   Aransas, says "being a certified city is important because our community works very hard to create safe   places for birds, to educate our residents and visitors on ways to help birds, and to provide trails and bird   viewing amenities for wildlife viewing". With their renown Whooping Crane Festival in February and the   beautiful winter weather, we encourage you to visit this Bird City.  

New Program Coming Soon! Bird Friendly Texan Webinar Series
We are excited to announce a new series kicking off this spring – Bird Friendly Texans webinars. Join us on even months to hear from speakers about topics that cover all areas of our work such as our Coastal 100 anniversary, coastal restoration, education, policy, prairie and grassland conservation, and much more. Details will be soaring into your inbox in the coming months. If you have ideas for speakers or topics, please submit them to Chloe Crumley

Chapter Engagement 
Audubon Chapters consist of passionate folks interested in birding, conservation, and education. Throughout 2023, we will update the Audubon Texas webpage for easy access to connect with Texas chapters and offer opportunities for regional and statewide meetings, both in person and virtual. Connect with a chapter in your neck of the woods! 

Chapter Highlight: Prairie and Timbers Audubon Chapter (PTAS), started in 1980, serves Collin County and the surrounding area. Their monthly meetings are scheduled on the 4th Tuesday at 6:30pm with programs focusing on wildlife, ecology, conservation, and of course, birds! This chapter is a great place to learn and to surround yourself with passionate people. 

At this year’s Christmas Bird Count, the chapter had some interesting sightings! Prairie and Timbers supports two CBC’s in the area — The McKinney CBC co-sponsored by the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Lake Ray Hubbard CBC. With more than 25 participants, the McKinney count observed 102 species from 12,884 individual birds. 

Among the species seen were a new-to-the-count Fish Crow, a species that has been slowly expanding in the area over the past decade; and one unusual species, a Rufous Hummingbird, a rare but occasional winter visitor to the area. The Lake Ray Hubbard count spotted an out-of-season Blue-gray Gnatcatche, a bird that typically spends the breeding season in North Texas and winters to the south. They had 15 participants and observed 94 species from 7,968 individual birds this year.

Policy Updates

Texas Policy Priorities

The 2023 Texas legislature has convened, and a question nags: are birds political animals?  Seems like they’d be interested, given their proclivities for assemblages, speeches, and calls to action.... 
Texas’s birds will be relying on Audubon Texas and our partners to represent them. Power generation, the reimagining of Texas’ energy market, and consequences for Texans and birds is a topic front and center. The Public Utility Commission (PUC) continue to reimagine how gas suppliers, generators, grid managers, and consumers will be impacted by shifts in market designs change how we deliver power to Texas electricity customers. For the first time since 1999, Texas is rethinking its energy-only market to rely on a capacity-like market to ensure the lights stay on and we don’t have a repeat of Winter Storm Uri. While we agree with the goals of maintaining a resilient grid amidst ever-more extreme weather events, we have real concerns about the mechanisms that are being used to create this resiliency, whether they will work, and what they will cost Texas consumers, both in the pocketbook and in terms of decarbonizing our grid. Read More

Prairie & Grassland Conservation 

Audubon Conservation Ranching (ACR) participated in the 2022 Austin Food and Wine Festival as one of two tasting sessions on Saturday, November 5th. ACR partnered with Burgess Cellars, a regenerative winery in Napa Valley, for a jerky and wine tasting  titled, A Palate for the Planet. Three jerkies from three ranches (Cope Grass Farm, Burgundy Pasture Beef, Black Leg Ranch) were paired with three wines from Burgess Cellars for a truly unique tasting experience.

Also in November, the Leo and Pittman Units of the Dixon Water Foundation’s North Texas ranch received their ACR certification. Along with the foundation’s Mimms Unit in Marfa, Texas, more than 20,000 acres managed by the Dixon Water Foundation is certified as bird-friendly. Thank you for all of your stewardship, and congratulations!

Learn more about Texans use of Regenerative Ranching with this video from the Houston Chronicle. Rancher Loy Sneary and his son Adam Sneary converted their 4,000 acres of ranch land in Matagorda County southeast of Houston to a regenerative ranching operation six years ago. Sneary’s ranch is Audubon Certified bird-friendly.
Lights Out, Texas! Thank You to All Who Participated.

A big THANK YOU to all our partners, centers, chapters and community members who participated in Lights Out Texas, Fall 2022! 

Sharing the message is key and participation across social media showed great results. Supporting organizations shared 428 posts across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and had a combined follower reach of nearly 8 million

Across major cities like Austin, Houston, and Dallas, 112 volunteers gave more than 1,000 hours of their time monitoring for bird causalities. We are grateful to the organizations and individuals offering their passion and expertise to collect data and help measure the success of Lights Out. Audubon Texas is excited to continue the work throughout spring migration and influence businesses and cities to adopt the bird friendly LOT practices year-round. Together, as conservationist, we have an opportunity to exact change for the better in our urban spaces.

We look forward to sharing our 2022 Fall Migration Report, coming out in the next few weeks on our website, and thank you, again, to all of our partners for their contributions.
Fall Migration 2022 Brag Badge - Says Phoebe - Photo: Gary Zahm / Audubon Photography Awards
Songs from Our Centers
Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center

Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center brought back regularly scheduled programs and semi-annual native plant sales. In October, Dogwood Canyon sold more 800 native plants, our largest native plant sale to date! Our Spring Native Plant Sale is scheduled for Saturday, April 8, 2023. Online ordering will begin in early to mid-March.  
Dogwood Canyon is now offering mindfulness programs, making use of our nature sanctuary for improvement of community mental health. Our first Forest Therapy Walk was held November 19th. The event sold out and had such amazing reviews that we’ve already scheduled our second Forest Therapy Walk for Saturday, March 11, 2023. Other mindfulness/health related programs offered include sound bathing on January 28th and Yoga on February 4th. We are looking to partner with additional instructors and business owners who are a good fit for our space and community. Contact Dogwood to discuss a potential partnership. Follow us on Facebook for upcoming events and registration links. 
On New Year’s Day, Dogwood Canyon opened its doors and trails for First Day Hikes, a nationwide initiative to encourage people to start the new year with a healthy activity and enjoyment of the outdoors. Over 200 visitors stopped by to enjoy our trails and center while taking part in this growing event. On this day, we also debuted our first StoryWalk®* on the Canyon Floor Trail, our half-mile, stroller-friendly trail. Our first storybook is “Animal Tracks,” written and illustrated by Arthur Dorros. Stories will be changed out regularly throughout the year.  
*A StoryWalk® is a book that has been dismembered, laminated, and presented page-by-page on a trail. The name StoryWalk® is a registered trademark. The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg Hubbard Library. 
Trinity River Audubon Center

Connecting with nature, whether through a solo nature walk or as part of an effort like the Christmas Bird Count, provides measurable benefits for both mental and physical well-being. However, in an urban setting like Dallas, finding these points of connection with the natural world can be challenging.

Here at Trinity River Audubon Center, we see ourselves as being perfectly positioned to facilitate those connections. To do so equitably, it is important that we remove barriers to access – including admission fees. We believe that offering free admission will ultimately result in greater community engagement and belonging, increased on-site donations from visitors, and new opportunities to secure funding targeted at equity.

We are happy to share that we are piloting a free entry program to Trinity River Audubon Center January 1 – June 30, 2023. It is our legacy to have reclaimed an illegal dumpsite and transformed it into an ecological haven for birds, wildlife, and people alike. We want to ensure the South Dallas community experiences the benefits TRAC can provide, in their own backyard.

Mitchell Lake Audubon Center

Mitchell Lake Audubon Center Director Sara Beesley was a featured speaker for the South Texas Business Partnership Networking Breakfast. She discussed the history and ecological importance of Mitchell Lake Audubon Center to birds as a migration stopover location. She emphasized the economic impact opportunities a world-class birding center can have on a region, and shared how the recently awarded 2022 City of San Antonio municipal bond dollars received can help elevate the entire region.

We’re Hiring!
Site Host in San Antonio, Texas | Careers at National Audubon Society 
Mitchell Lake Audubon Center is hiring! The Seasonal Site Host position is similar to the Texas State Parks Park Host position – they will live onsite in their RV and provide support to the staff during our busiest of seasons. If you have an RV or tiny home, are passionate about the outdoors, and have time to work and volunteer, this might be a great fit for you. Apply today! 

Join us for these exciting events! Register on our website events page

Family Winter Owl Prowl & Advanced Night Hike  
Hot chocolate too!
Friday, January 27

Sunset Hike and Picnic   
Celebrate the sights and sounds of nature with your partner.
Saturday, February 11  

Birdie Big Year: Elevating Women Birders 
Guest host & expert bird guide: Tiffany Kersten
Friday, March 17 

Birding Hike for Women
Guest host & expert bird guide: Tiffany Kersten 
Saturday, March 18 

Migratory Bird Fest 
Community festival kicking off spring migration.
Saturday, March 25 
Ruby-throated Hummingbird Phot: Shari McCollough / Audubon Photography Awards
From National Audubon Society
Audubon Hatched
Audubon Hatched is a new feature in the Audubon Bird Guide App that visualizes your past year of birding data. App users who have logged ten or more bird sightings in 2022 will receive a video snapshot that features their logged bird sightings, top three most sighted birds, birding locations, and more. You can share your results through text message and social media using the hashtag #AudubonHatched. 
If you have not logged bird sightings this year, you can still access Audubon Hatched and enjoy a highlight reel of what all Audubon Bird Guide App users logged together in 2022. Find all the inspiration you need to continue your birding journey in 2023! If you’re not already a user of the free Bird Guide app, download it today and start exploring. 
Audubon at the SXSW 2023 Conference in Austin, TX
Attending the SXSW 2023 Conference in Austin, TX? Audubon will be presenting a panel discussion titled "Birds Tell Us: Inspiring Conservation Through Art." The session will take place on Monday, March 13th at the Austin Convention Center from 10 - 11am CT. We'll be sharing insights into the threats facing birds and the places we all need and diving into how art can be used as a vehicle to drive actions that will help. Learn more here.

Join Audubon Texas today – becoming a member supports our local work.

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 You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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