Finding Pathways to Conservation
Audubon Texas
Bird's-eye View : Finding Pathways to Conservation
View from the Flyway
Dear Friends,

2023 was an exciting year. Audubon Texas celebrated 100 years of formal conservation action and partnership along the Texas Gulf Coast and four amazing Texas Women in Conservation. We worked with partners on state policy issues vital to birds such as the protection of a tree species important to the Golden-cheeked Warbler and the responsible expansion of Texas’s energy infrastructure. We focused on the development of programs like Lights Out! Texas and Bird City Texas, and the ongoing growth of community partnerships at Audubon Centers. That work could not have been possible without the support of and collaboration with Audubon members, chapters, and partners across the state.

As we embark upon a new year, we set our sights on the important work ahead. At Audubon, we are working on a five-year, organization-wide Flight Plan that will put us on the path of bending the bird curve, to help restore populations of bird species that have experienced a 30 percent decline since the 1970s. The Flight Plan calls on Audubon to use research and science to drive conservation action and to apply the principles of inclusivity and belonging as we work with partners in communities across the state to build new pathways to conservation.

What are pathways to conservation? They are myriad ways people begin to care about conservation issues, become involved, and take action to protect birds and the habitats they need. For each person, this pathway is different. Many people across Texas enjoy birding through formal group activities or quietly in their own neighborhood. For others the challenges of land stewardship, the desire for accessible urban greenspace, or the need to create economic opportunity through nature tourism may be the issue that connects people to bird conservation. Whatever, the entry point may be, a big part of our work at Audubon is to recognize these entry points and work with partners to create pathways that feel personal and are authentic to their community’s values.

As always, thank you for your support and partnership. We look forward to soaring a path of bird population recovery with you.

Warmest regards,

Lisa Gonzalez 
Vice President & Executive Director, Audubon Texas
Northern Gannet - Evelyn Garcia /Audubon Photography Awards
View from the Birdhouse

Christmas Bird Count Reflections 
By Yvette Stewart, Audubon Texas Community Outreach Coordinator, and the Audubon Texas team

Every year, Audubon Texas staff make the most out of the Christmas Bird Count season to reach out to friends and partners alike, participating in a wide variety of counts across this crazy state. This year, a few staff members wanted to share their experiences and highlight some of our fantastic counting companions. 

Jake Poinsett, Trinity River Audubon Center (TRAC) Program Manager, compiled for the “TXTA” count in portions of Dallas and Kaufman counties. The circle consists of a mixture of preserved habitat such as TRAC and John Bunker Sands Wetland Center, as well as ranchland and suburban and urban neighborhoods. “We were able to muster 136 species and roughly 105,000 individual birds. The amount of individual birds we found this year is lower than previous years, and zone leaders from across our circle mentioned how some of the historic habitat is now developed”, according to Poinsett. “But the team managed to find some great rare birds!”. READ MORE
CBC Mad Island Marsh Photo: Sydney Walsh / Brent Ortega Photo: Alexis Baldera / Round Rock CBC Photo: Linda Ramirez / Vermillion Flycatcher - Alicia Smith /Audubon Photography Awards & Snowy Plover - Yvonne Wright / Audubon Photography Awards
hooded warbler
Program & Policy Updates

Policy Update

City of Dallas 2024 Municipal Bond
The Dallas City Council continues to consider the proposed projects for the 2024 bond, which could total up to $1.25 billion in infrastructure bonds to be listed on the City of Dallas’s May or November ballots. Dallasites will vote on a package of local improvements including critical facilities; streets and transportation; parks and trails; economic development, housing, and homeless solutions; and flood control and storm drainage. The Citizen Bond Task Force committee and city staff have presented project recommendations to City Council. Included in up to $350 million in park-related improvements proposed by the citizen Parks and Trails subcommittee is an investment in Trinity River Audubon Center facility improvements, including a remodel of the education hall and outdoor classroom. This investment for TRAC, including matching funds from Audubon supporters, would bolster economic potential, increase access and equity to greenspace, and build upon existing community connections in South Dallas. At their December briefing, City Council was unable to reach consensus on both the timing of the bond election as well as funding amounts. The Dallas City Council is scheduled to discuss the project recommendations on January 20th, at 2pm.

Urban Conservation Update 

Lights Out, Texas! 
Fall 2023 illuminated the continuing threats for birds along with the opportunities we have to go Lights Out, Texas. The statewide, community-based outreach and monitoring program coordinated by Audubon Texas, alongside Audubon Chapters and partners in Austin, Houston, Dallas, and Fort Worth, recovered more than 764 birds and 15 bats impacted by collisions in cityscapes during the fall migration season. American Woodcock, known for its great dancing skills, is a species found frequently injured or killed while migrating across the Dallas-Fort Worth area. At campus monitoring programs at Rice University and Texas A&M University-College Station, hummingbirds are a common fatal find. Audubon Texas appreciates the volunteers and partners who are out in the wee hours, identifying and collecting stunned birds and bats. Beyond monitoring, partners host events, lead programs, educate city council members, and more. To see a full update, please read the Fall 2023 Lights Out Texas Report.  

Looking forward to how we can prevent future bird collisions in addition to human behavior change, the National Audubon Society, including the Audubon Texas state office, and partners work with building designers and developers in 2024 to encourage bird friendly architecture and urban design. The long-term goal is to make bird-friendly design market-driven and supported by policy makers. Now is the time for collaboration to make institutional changes that benefits birds, bats, and people! Do you work for a designer, architect firm, own a building, or have a connection with your local representatives? Contact Audubon Texas with your Lights Out connection so together, we can make change happen.   

Bird City Texas  
After studying and enhancing the program in 2023, Bird City Texas is open for applications! Audubon Texas and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department are excited to continue working with local communities across Texas in their efforts to make spaces where we live, work, and recreate “bird friendly”. Congratulations to Galveston, San Antonio, and Surfside Beach for recertifying your individual community as a Bird City! Communities have many exciting ways they support where birds live: Galveston implemented programming such as “Hotter than Hell Big Day”, San Antonio introduced a new Christmas Bird Count circle to the city’s southeastern neighborhood to increase participant diversity, inclusion, and equitable access to programs, and Surfside Beach is working alongside their local government to protect bird habitat. To learn more about each Bird City, explore the program and apply, visit the new website, hosted in partnership with American Bird Conservancy and Environment Americas. 
Apply today!

Coastal Conservation Update 
Throughout 2023 Audubon Texas enjoyed celebrating 100 years of formal coastal conservation with communities and partners! Looking back at the history of the coastal program was a fun and interesting journey. Both historical documents and untold stories were discovered, including highlights of dedicated staff and committed volunteers who helped turn the tide for coastal waterbird success in Texas. Countless partners, individuals, and donors helped build Audubon Texas during the last century! Audubon Texas’s Coastal Program is primed to continue our work protecting and managing coastal bird habitats. In 2023, the leased islands hosted 39,700 nesting birds from 21 species of waterbirds including Roseate Spoonbill, Reddish Egret, Brown Pelican, Black Skimmer, Sandwich Tern, American Oystercatcher, and many other species. 

Prairie & Grasslands Conservation Update 
Throughout the last quarter of 2023, Audubon Conservation Ranching (ACR) developed habitat management plans with 5 properties throughout Texas and 1 property in New Mexico. These plans lay out how daily operations on the ranches would benefit birds and improve grassland habitat. Prior to final certification, the lands will undergo an audit by Food Alliance, verifying that land stewardship practices meet the overall standards to be labeled bird-friendly. Within the year, we expect to add these ranches, and more, to the list of currently certified operations, adding more than 125,500 acres of working lands dedicated to bird-friendly habitat and further expanding the availability of Audubon Conservation Ranching certified products.  

ACR continued outreach in Texas and New Mexico, participating at the 2023 Quivira Regenerate Conference in Santa Fe. This space provided ample opportunities for connections with landowners and partners from across the nation. In the New Year, ACR will be focused on increasing ranch recruitment and outreach efforts across Texas. We will be especially focused on areas of critical habitat throughout the state, as Audubon Texas expects to broaden ACR program support in the coming years. 

ACR is a voluntary program providing technical assistance to property owners across Texas to restore and improve bird habitat. In addition to personalized technical assistance, Audubon Texas is also preparing to officially launch the online Landowner Toolkit. This toolkit is an interactive webpage on the Audubon Texas website that helps users to navigate conservation resources within the state. Landowners will be able to explore options in Texas for conservation assistance, learn about their property, and participate in stewardship events. The tool will be live in late January and will continue with regular updates to reflect the dynamic space that is private lands habitat conservation.

Stay tuned for a week of ACR news from Audubon Texas, beginning January 29th! 
Hooded Warbler (nocturnal migrant) Gary Robinete/Audubon Photography Awards
Songs from Our Centers
Mitchell Lake Audubon Center 

Mitchell Lake Audubon Center had many notable connections in 2023, including:

  • Educated more than 10 school groups for a total of 491 students,
  • Hosted two Federal Work Study Education Interns during the fall semester, from Texas A&M-San Antonio and Alamo College, 
  • Led community tours connecting with Outdoor Afro, San Antonio Oasis Group, Alamo Area Texas Master Naturalist trainees, and various Scout groups, 
  • Hosted Mitchell Lake’s first Solar Eclipse event, with more than 160 attendees,  
  • Enjoyed the first Movie on the Lawn event at the site with bird conservation activities before the movie, 
  • Completed a new greenhouse which will house propagated plants from seeds and cuttings in the native plant garden,  
  • Received the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) for their annual count, with 30 different species identified on the property likely due to the increased plant diversity offered.

Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center 

Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center wrapped 2023 teaching about the history and annual tradition of the Christmas Bird Count (CBC), and kicking off 2024 with the annual Cedar Hill, Texas CBC on New Year’s Day. This coincided with the first hike of the new year at the center, hosting more than 200 visitors that day! Other notable 2023 highlights: 

  • Return of the Golden-cheeked Warbler for the second year after a 20-year absence, 
  • A 60% increase of free program offerings, 
  • More than 5,400 native plants sold, adding important bird-friendly habitat to our communities, 
  • Now offering Scott and Stuart Gentling brothers Of Birds and Texas prints through the new online store
  • Celebrating 9 years of free access!  
Already bounding into the new year, expect more fun, more engagement, and more conservation for the Cedar Hill community and its visitors. A new Lecture Series and interpretive art exhibitions will be added to fan favorites such as Stars & S’mores, First Saturday, animal encounters, and guided walks. 

Connecting with birds and nature is an important facet for all. That’s why Dogwood is dedicated to remaining admission-free, offering a place where visitors can gain insight from staff and volunteers to enhance their outdoor experience, bringing awareness of our ecosystems, available programs, and opportunities to get more involved. Information is available online for upcoming programs.

Trinity River Audubon Center 

As we embark on a new journey around the sun, Trinity River Audubon Center (TRAC) is looking forward to a vibrant year filled with a variety of engaging programs. This South Dallas gem offers a wide range of opportunities to celebrate nature, connect with our community, and aid conservation. This year TRAC will provide even more community science opportunities to protect birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow – ultimately creating a world in which people and wildlife thrive. View the full events calendar here!
2024 Christmas Bird Count in Dallas / TCA Fort Worth Volunteers for Lights Out survey/Mitchell Lake education programs / Dogwood Canyon event schedule and entertainment
National Audubon Society Update
NEW National Audubon Society Website 

The new and improved National Audubon Society website launched this week! Why a new look and feel? Audubon is committed to enhancing local content while providing a hemispheric lens for our work. The website will bring together national, regional, and center websites and provide ease of finding local information with increased accessibility. Visitors will see more stories about our conservation and engagement work and enjoy increased article legibility featuring a new color palette. Redesigns for state, regional, and center websites are expected later this year.
American Avocet - Danny Hancock / Audubon Photography Awards

Join Audubon Texas today and protect bird habitat.

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.


Audubon Texas
2407 S. Congress Ave., Ste. E - #477, Austin, TX 78704 USA
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