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

It’s that time of the biennium when the Audubon Texas team is paying close attention to the activity occurring inside the historic, pink granite walls of the Texas State Capitol in Austin. More than 8,000 bills have been filed this 88th legislative session and nearly half have been referred to committees for potential advancement through the chambers and on to the Governor’s desk.

One exciting note is the legislation introduced this session celebrating Audubon’s 100 years of formal conservation in Texas! On March 23rd, Representative John Lujan (District 118—San Antonio), representing Mitchell Lake Audubon Center, sponsored HR567 congratulating Audubon Texas on the 100th anniversary of its coastal island management program. In 1923, Audubon initiated its first rookery island leases to save the Reddish Egret from extinction, marking Audubon’s first official conservation management action in Texas, and the beginning of a century of conservation partnerships and stewardship. Our policy update below shares more about some of the action we’re taking to ensure where birds live, people thrive.

In a year of reflection on our centennial of work across Texas, you’ll see a different take on this year’s Texas Women in Conservation recognition, which supports our Conservation Leaders Program for Young Women high school students. Rather than a large-scale event, we will be hosting a few, smaller “salons” across the state honoring several notable women leaders in conservation. I’m proud to have the opportunity to engage in these personal conversations about our collective accomplishments and the future of our community-focused work. We’ll be sharing some exciting announcements about our honorees on our channels in the next few months! 

Spring is a wonderful time for birdwatching and sharing a love for birds. Audubon’s growing membership in Texas and network of local chapters, nature centers, volunteer leaders, and partners give Audubon Texas the amplified voice to influence the policy landscape in Texas. A special thank you for all our members and partners who are actively engaged in the Lights Out Texas and Bird City Texas collaborations. We take great pride in our responsibility, uplifting your passions and your work so that, collectively, we can address conservation challenges, increase climate literacy, and increase the sense of belonging felt within a broad array of communities across our state.

Because we are a bipartisan, science-driven organization, we have the capability to convene stakeholders on competing sides of issues in the best interest of birds and the habitats they need. As we said when we laid out our policy priorities at the beginning of the year, Texas’s birds are relying on Audubon Texas and our partners to represent them. We thank you for your support of these efforts through partnerships, responses to Audubon Action Alerts, engagement at our local centers, and the financial support that makes this work possible. When we protect what birds need, we sustain ourselves, too. 

Warmest regards,

Lisa Gonzalez 
Vice President & Executive Director, Audubon Texas
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - Tim Barker/Audubon Photography Awards
View from the Birdhouse
Put a Band On It! Bird Banding to Learn More About Our Feathered Friends.
By Yvette Stewart, Audubon Texas Community Outreach Coordinator

As a state organization of the National Audubon Society, Audubon Texas is deeply passionate about two things: Birds and People. The intersections between Homo sapiens and avian fauna are vast; and there is much we can learn. Bird banding is one method ornithologists use to learn the lessons birds want to share with us. It’s the process of trapping, marking, measuring, and releasing birds. Specifically, birds are typically ‘marked’ with a thin, lightweight aluminum or stainless-steel band, with an individualized number etched into it. Depending on the size of the bird and the purpose of the study, birds may carry a second type of marking or data gathering tool. This tool could include a color band, a motus tracker, or even a satellite-enabled GPS tracker. When banding, scientists can assess the breeding or migration-readiness of individual birds, learn about the molt patterns of species, assess the age and dispersal of populations. READ MORE
Ruby-crowned kinglet | Gray Hawk | Orange-crowned Warbler Photo: Yvette Stewart
View From Another Perch
Lights Out Bird Collision Monitoring: What happens to the casualties? 
By Heather Prestridge, curator for the Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections (BRTC) at Texas A&M University

Across Texas in the early morning hours before the sun is up, volunteer crews walk routes in downtown metropolitan areas looking for dead or stunned birds from building collisions. These crews are a part of the Lights Out, Texas! campaign, a statewide initiative that aims to bring awareness and inspire action to protect the billions of migratory birds that fly over Texas by turning lights out.  

Collision monitoring crews are helpful in documenting where most bird fatalities are happening in our urban areas and give us useful data when talking with building owners. An estimated one billion U.S. bird deaths occur annually from collisions with buildings and structures, with migratory species most at risk. It is also estimated that one in four birds migrating through the U.S. passes through Texas, making our geographical location extremely important for this conservation initiative. Since the BRTC engaged in the Lights Out Texas collaborative in 2020, more than 2,000 observations of dead birds have been made on iNaturalist. 

But what happens to all those birds after they have been documented?  Check out our Q&A with Heather to learn more about what happens after the birds are collected and sent to the BRTC.  READ MORE
Painted Bunting - Layton Parham / Audubon Photography Awards
Br pelican
Program & Policy Updates

Happenings in the Texas 88th Legislature 

Audubon Texas’s legislative priorities are focused on three primary areas: habitat preservation for an endangered species, the creation of a historic state land and water conservation fund, and the future of the Texas energy grid. There is one thread that connects the policy work of Audubon Texas this Spring—more than 1,000 people are estimated to be moving to Texas every day. The Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute  estimates that 240,000 acres of working lands are lost to development every year. With more people moving to Texas (and who can blame them, it’s a great place to live!) and more land needed to accommodate our growing population, we are seeing historic changes in land use. That means greater potential for degradation and fragmentation of the remaining natural habitats on which birds rely. It also means that we have an opportunity to create significant benefits for birds. READ MORE

Urban Conservation Update

Lights Out, Texas! 
More than 150 million birds were in flight over the United States at midnight central time on Monday, April 17th. This number will increase as we reach peak migration starting this Saturday, April 22nd through May 12th. Sign up for BirdCast Alerts to know when your community is experiencing peak migration nights and do your part to turn off the lights. READ MORE

During peak migration, it is critical for us to turn off lights, close curtains, and remove or adjust landscape lighting to point downwards, helping our feathered friends travel safely at night. You can also spread awareness by connecting your network and sharing #LightsOutTexas on social media. In March, more than 80 posts were shared online reaching an audience of 163,000 people. Let’s keep spreading the good work! Find our full guide of social media resources here

Bird City Texas 
Our newest communities to join the Bird City Texas flock, Cedar Hill and Austin, were both recognized this past week at their respective city’s council meetings. Congratulations to all 10 of the Bird City Texas communities for excelling at education, outreach and habitat protection!  

On Tuesday, April 11th, partners Texas Parks and Wildlife, Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center, and City of Cedar Hill Parks Department were honored and celebrated for their hard work to make Cedar Hill a place where birds thrive and people prosper. Austin partners including Travis Audubon Society and City of Austin Parks Department were honored Thursday, April 20th with a proclamation to uplift the work being done to keep Austin a sanctuary for people and birds alike.

Plants for Birds 
April is National Native Plant Month! Bring birds to your home by growing native plants. You can find the best plants for the birds in your area with Audubon’s Native Plant Database. Whether you have a patio or yard, growing bird-friendly plants will attract and help the birds you love, make spaces more enjoyable, and benefit the environment. Don’t forget to also remove invasive species to make room for your natives to grow. Happy gardens lead to happy birds.

Education Update
Audubon’s Conservation Leaders Program for Young Women (ACL) is an exciting partnership between schools in the Young Women’s Preparatory Network and Audubon State staff, Texas Centers, and local Audubon Chapters. Each year, the Audubon's Conservation Leaders program tackles the science, conservation, and the broad career options within the areas of  Climate ChangeWaterCoastsWorking Lands, and Bird-friendly Communities. We are wrapping our 3rd cohort this spring with participants from Dallas and San Antonio. Stay tuned for highlights from this year and our summer camp in our July newsletter!

Coastal Conservation Program Update

It’s nesting season on the Texas coast! 
Coastal waterbirds are hard at work building nests on Audubon-leased islands across the Texas Coast. Audubon’s Coastal Wardens are monitoring islands and reducing disturbance to help achieve another productive nesting season. As we celebrate 100 years of coastal conservation, Audubon Coastal Wardens have been a connective thread throughout our history. Today we lease 177 islands from the Texas General Land Office, and with the help of our partners at Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program we manage these islands as bird sanctuaries. During the nesting season (February through September) the islands are closed to visitors to give the birds the space they need to nest and raise their chicks.  READ MORE

In addition to our coastal islands work, our team has been working to bring the joy of birds to students in Harris County. Through a partnership with Harris County Department of Education and funded by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Audubon implemented the Observe a Bird afterschool program at nine schools.  We were excited to hire Alexandrea Sands, a graduate of the Audubon Conservation Leaders program, as our education intern. Students learned how to use binoculars, identify birds, nature journal, and gained hands on experience at green spaces near their schools.
Brown Pelican building a nest on Chester Island - Photo: Hank Arnold
Songs from Our Centers
Trinity River Audubon Center

Don't miss the event of the season! With signature cocktails, tasty treats from a variety of chefs, music, and dancing, Scissor-tails & Cocktails is a fun and festive spring celebration benefiting Trinity River Audubon Center. This event will raise money, and more importantly awareness, for the center. Click here to enjoy pictures from last year, and act fast to reserve your tickets today! Members at the Sparrow level and above receive tickets to this event as part of your membership. 

And a special shoutout to the Dallas-area Audubon Centers for being recognized in Texas Highways Magazine as great places for urban birding adventures!

Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center

It has been a fruitful spring! Dogwood Canyon’s spring Native Plant Sale surpassed all records, selling more than 1,500 plants. While this is a fabulous fundraiser for the center, it is also a great opportunity to help our communities turn their yards into healthier and bird-friendly habitats.

Warbler Alert: Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center reported seeing the return of the Golden-cheeked Warbler for the first time in 20 years in 2022. He’s back! While there is speculation as to why it has been absent and has now returned, from population changes to habitat loss, one thing is certain: staff and visitors are thrilled to have this little bird with the beautiful yellow face back in North Texas. The icing on the cake is not only has the male been seen, but also a female. NBC5 is in progress of creating an exclusive on-air story on this special bird, expected to air by end of April. You can view this month’s siting of the bird on eBird, and enjoy an audio recording taken at Dogwood Canyon. Great things are blooming at Dogwood Canyon and Cedar Hill! 

Mitchell Lake Audubon Center

We finally were able to seed our grassland restoration area! After delays due to the pandemic and funding, we were able to work with our partners at Native American Seed to do a final manual removal of encroaching plant species, followed by tilling and seeding of the site with native grasses. More than 15 acres will be restored with the long-term goal of expanding to 50 acres of this restoration pilot is successful. Mitchell Lake is a-flutter with events.

Mitchell Lake Audubon Center welcomed more than 800 visitors to Migratory Bird Fest on Saturday, March 25th. Community members experienced a live bird show from Last Chance Forever, received free native trees from the City of San Antonio, shopped for nature-friendly art and gifts, and learned about migratory birds and nature from a variety of partners. 

April 14th marked our Spring Migration Mixer – with perfect spring weather! We saw Black-chinned Hummingbirds, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, and flocks of Yellow-rumped Warblers when touring the wetlands in golf carts and walking through the native gardens.

Our next FREE ENTRY DAY will be Sunday April 30th and encourage everyone to come out and participate in the City Nature Challenge and BioBlitz while enjoying the site for free. Our May Free Entry Day will be Saturday, May 18th, celebrating World Migratory Bird Day, and is sponsored by our partners at HEB. See more upcoming events on our website.
Center Events and Activities

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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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