Slow Birding, Earth Day, and Success at the US Capitol!
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Audubon Texas
Bird's-eye View : Slow Birding, Earth Day, and Success at the US Capitol!
Painted bunting
View from the Flyway
Dear Friends,

Welcome to the Spring 2024 Audubon Texas Quarterly newsletter. This year, Audubon will be sharing and communicating the new strategic plan, which we call the “Flight Plan”. It serves as Audubon’s 5-year roadmap to ‘bend the bird curve,’ to halt and reverse the alarming decline of birds. Their seasonal migrations across the Western Hemisphere mean that Audubon works hemispherically, from boreal Canada to Texas to Chile and beyond. The Flight Plan outlines three strategic drivers of the work and five milestones that will guide and communicate impact. It will require all of us to achieve these critical goals.

The Flight Plan three drivers will be incorporated into everything we do for birds and their habitats: climate change; hemispheric conservation; and equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging. As we learned from the 2019, Survival by Degrees Report, climate change places two-thirds of North American bird species at risk of extinction in the coming decades. For Texas, this also includes stressors such as changing precipitation patterns, extreme heat, extreme weather, and landscape-level habitat change. These impact birds, other wildlife, and our communities, equally. We like to say, ‘What is good for birds is good for people.’  We must protect the places birds need in all the landscapes and places they call home across the hemisphere. As we create habitat for the benefit of birds and people, we must do so equitably and be inclusive of as many communities as possible, especially ensuring historically excluded communities are not left out.

The Flight Plan commits Audubon to striving for significant milestones that will demonstrate measurable impact on climate and species biodiversity by 2028. Habitat Conservation: Our goal is to conserve 300 million acres of quality, connected, and climate-resilient bird habitat so birds across the Western Hemisphere are protected throughout their entire life cycle. Climate Action – Renewable Energy: Our goal is to facilitate the deployment of 100 gigawatts of new, responsibly sited renewable energy generation and transmission lines. That is enough to power 75 million households per year. Climate Action – Natural Climate Solutions: Our goal is to create habitat that can store 30 billion tons of carbon in conserved forests, wetlands, and grasslands. That is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of 24 billion cars. Policy: Our goal is to pass policies across the hemisphere that advance and fund conservation and climate initiatives with solutions equal to the scale of the challenges we face. Community Building: Our goal is to work with bird lovers across the hemisphere to advance a shared vision that builds on local actions.

As you spend time with us reading the newsletter below, I hope you will see that we are beginning the journey to ‘bend the bird curve’ guided by the Flight Plan. As always, this will be science-based with a dedication to finding common ground to advance practical solutions. The work will place people at the forefront of bird conservation, to bring forth new champions for bird conservation and environmental stewardship into our movement. Collaborations with local Audubon chapters, community organizations and Center Programs will be foundational to this work. As the Bird Diva explains below, we will be called to explore new and creative approaches to birding and create new entry points which foster a sense of belonging.

Our unwavering commitment to the conservation of birds is rooted in the understanding that birds serve as critical messengers of our planet's health. We believe the joy birds bring to people is a powerful conduit to engaging an ever-growing Audubon community. Every action that we take together has the possibility of an outsized benefit for birds and people in Texas and across the hemisphere. Thank you for your commitment to engage with and support Audubon’s mission.

Warmest regards,

Lisa Gonzalez, Director 
Audubon Texas Vice President & Executive Director 
Painted Bunting - Simon Tan /Audubon Photography Awards
cedar waxwings
View from Another Perch
Belonging in Birding
By Bridget Butler, Bird Diva

My awareness of the community aspect of birding has always been so acute that when I began to feel like I was birding differently than others, I had to pause and figure out what that feeling was all about. My Slow Birding practice grew out of this feeling of wanting to belong, but I recognized that the way I enjoyed and connected with birds was not present in the larger birding community at the time.

It took a bit of courage and vulnerability to articulate those feelings and rebuild my birding practice. I shifted to sitting in place at a sit spot, noticing rather than identifying, and finding awe in the ordinary - this became what I called Slow Birding. As I began to share my approach to birding, I found others searching for this sort of permission to bird in this way, which led to a sense of belonging as well. A large part of my work as the Bird Diva focuses on community, on cultivating a community of bird observers who are courageous and vulnerable, curious, and kind. READ MORE
Cedar Waxwing - Ron Gard / Audubon Photography Awards
conservation updates
Program & Policy Updates
Coastal Conservation Update
Guess who’s back! Audubon Texas’s rookery islands across the Texas Gulf coast are filling up with nesting waterbirds. Great Blue Heron, White Ibis, and Brown Pelican have already built their nests and we expect to see chicks soon. Beach-nesting birds, such as Black Skimmer are just starting to arrive. Follow Audubon Texas on social media for updates throughout the season! Audubon’s Coastal Program had a great time in Palacios at the Matagorda Bay BirdFest this past weekend. touring wetlands, presenting a new beach-nesting program, and enjoying the parade. As we move into warmer weather, we encourage everyone to #sharetheshore with beach birds. Visit Audubon online for fun videos, posts, and infographics to learn more.  

Prairie & Grasslands Conservation Update
Audubon Conservation Ranching (ACR) is working to certify four new ranches in Texas and one in New Mexico. Audubon Texas is working alongside these fantastic producers to formulate their 3-year habitat management plans, which detail management actions throughout the property designed to holistically improve grassland bird habitat.

ACR is also gearing up for the 2024 monitoring season, by planning breeding season surveys for existing certified ranches. This data will be used to demonstrate how on-the-ground management activities are affecting bird populations. We look forward to sharing the 2024 ACR data on bird populations with the 2024 later this year. 

The ACR team has been busy during the last quarter! In January, the Audubon Conservation Ranching team attended the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo with Jacob Poinsett, Education Manager at Trinity River Audubon Center. Tabling at the Kids Gone Wild event, Audubon Texas connected with visitors to spread awareness about native mammals and plants, pollinators, reptiles, and birds. In February, the team attended the Panhandle Wildlife Conference, a wonderful event hosted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Tech University Department of Natural Resources Management, and the Texas Wildlife Association that brought more opportunities for partnership, field days, and presentations. March brought presentations on Audubon Conservation Ranching to the Texas Land Trust Council’s Texas Land Conservation Conference, garnering interest from additional landowners and partners.

Audubon Texas is also excited to begin expanding the Audubon Conservation Ranching team. Preparation is underway to add an ecologist covering South Texas and the Gulf coast in the coming months. These new positions are important for the addition and support of new ACR lands in key geographies across the state.

Policy Update
City of Dallas 2024 Municipal Election

The Dallas City Council approved nearly $1.25 billion in infrastructure bond projects for a special May 4, 2024 election. Early voting begins THIS Saturday, April 22nd, and Dallasites will vote on several propositions for local improvements such as 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 presented project recommendations to City Council, including $345 million in park-related improvements. Let’s make Dallas Greener and Greater – Dallas resident can visit online for more information on the propositions and voting locations!

Community Conservation Update
Education Update
Trinity River Audubon Center recently hosted a career panel for Audubon Texas’s Texas Leaders in Conservation (TLC) program. Panelists were invited based on students’ career interests. Joining the high school students, were Diane Moon, a PhD candidate from SMU, to talk about her path into Neuroscience and Psychology; Brooke Poplin, a master’s student from UNT, to discuss her pathway into Biology and animal behavior science; Jimena Vivanco, the Conservation Manager from Trinity Park Conservancy; and Judge Nancy Kennedy from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Bringing in her MBA history and her business savvy, Shelly White, Trinity River Audubon Center Director rounded out the panel. The panelists’ rich, diverse career and college paths made for great conversation. Panelists offered solid life advice for the students. The main take away from the students’ perspective was careers are rarely a straight and narrow path; instead, most folks experience a wide variety of deciding factors which ultimately pushes them into their career path. TLC leaders are grateful for the time, perspective, and thoughtfulness of the panelists. It’s a special opportunity to relieve the pressure for a perfect future plan, and just lean into the uncertainty of how life will unfold for the hardworking, eager leaders, and especially for the outgoing seniors. 

Lisa Gonzalez, Audubon Texas Vice President and Executive Director, provided the keynote speech at the 19th Annual Student Research Symposium at Texas A&M University at Galveston. Lisa (Sea Aggie Class of ’92) spoke to undergraduate and graduate students about career paths in conservation, the skills needed to be successful in today’s environmental careers, and the necessity to equitably connect science with communities to build the next generation of conservation leaders.

Urban Conservation Update
Audubon Texas is calling 2024 a year for the birds! Partners, community organizations, businesses, and residents across the state are taking intentional steps to protect birds and their habitats for today and tomorrow. Read on to see what’s happening in your area...READ MORE
Anita Gilson - Senior Coordinator, Private Lands - Audubon Texas / Black Skimmer - Barbara Bowen/Audubon Photography Awards / Career panel for TLC program, photo: Jacob Poinsett
Songs from Our Centers
Trinity River Audubon Center
Connecting with the Community through Conservation Education

What a range of activities! At Trinity River Audubon Center(TRAC), a ‘typical’ day is anything but. Curious what goes on here day to day? Here’s a peek:

7:00 a.m. – The morning kicks off before sunrise as a local ornithologist sets up mist nets near the wetland trails, preparing for a seasonal research study of avian behavior in urban areas. TRAC sits in the Central Flyway, an important travel corridor for migratory birds, making it an ideal research area.

10:00 a.m. – Field trip time! The education team greets the students and chaperones as they arrive for a three-part TEKS-aligned educational program. During their visit, students explore the trails during a guided hike, become researchers in the wet labs and learn about adaptations in nature through interactive storytelling.

12:00 p.m. – A group of architects checks in for a guided building tour where we’ll discuss site history as a former illegal landfill and how that influenced the sustainable design and materials choices for TRAC’s LEED-Gold Certified building.

1:00 p.m. – Students from the University of Texas – Dallas arrive with their professor for their weekly environmentalism class, which meets at the Center. This semester, they’re learning about habitat restoration stewarding an acre of prairie habitat.

3:00 p.m. – Two of the educators load up the Center’s van with interesting natural artifacts such as samples of animal fur, bones and seed pods from native Dallas animals and plants. They’ll use these items as part of a free community education program at a local library that evening. 

Every month Center visitors can enjoy educational programs, many free of charge, designed to build a deeper relationship with this wonderful North Texas habitat. From casual guided hikes to in-depth birding adventures to student programs for pre-K through college – let Trinity River Audubon Center help you find new ways to explore nature in Dallas!

View all upcoming programs and events.

Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center
Spring Migration is underway, but Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center boasts a few winter residents still hanging out, including the American Goldfinch and White-throated Sparrow. However, it’s the arrival of a special spring migrant that they are anxiously awaiting…the Golden-cheeked Warbler. In 2022, after a 20-year absence, the Golden-cheeked Warbler (GCWA) made an appearance and then again in 2023. Motivated to learn more about the location and population of the GCWA at Dogwood Canyon, in 2023 nine specialized audio recording units (ARU) were installed in areas where the warbler was seen in the previous year, but also other viable habitat locations within the canyon.  

Data analysis showed the warbler calls were first recorded on March 25, 2023 and the last vocalization was detected on May 21, 2023. The warbler/s moved around quite a bit, more than we realized. Vocalizations during the first half of the season were recorded on three ARUs while the last half of the season calls were detected on three different ARUs. One ARU detected no calls while two ARUs failed to work. On the ground human observations reported that calls and/or visual identity occurred near a few, not all, of the locations where ARUs were installed. However, human observations gave us insight to bird behavior and told us both the male and female were present. The use of technology and human observations, were both important to tell the larger story. This year additional ARUs have been placed on a property owned by the City of Cedar Hill. Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center is grateful for the volunteer birders and the partnership with Cedar Hill to help monitor this endangered species. 

Join Gil Eckrich at the center for a lecture, “The Life and Times of the Golden-cheeked Warbler” on April 20, 5pm. Gil studied the Golden-Cheeked warbler for twenty years while working as a Natural Resource Specialist at Fort Hood and continues to study this beautiful bird today. He is regarded by many as one of the foremost authorities on the life of the Golden-cheeked Warbler. For additional information about this event and future lectures, events and programs, visit the center’s website or follow on Facebook.  

Mitchell Lake Audubon Center
In March, Mitchell Lake Audubon Center held its first Wellness Weekend! This included community information booths and activities including yoga, meditation walks, story time, nature journaling, and poetry. Many thanks to their great partners for providing sessions, activities, and marketing support, the event was very well received. Many people were first-time visitors and were positive about their experience. 

MLAC also recently partnered with Latino Outdoors for a three-part series exploring birds at natural areas and parks across the Southside. Participants hiked and enjoyed watching birds at Mitchell Lake Audubon Center, Confluence Park and the San Antonio River, and the Medina River Natural Area.

See more upcoming programs at Mitchell Lake and plan a visit!
Golden-cheeked Warbler - Photo credit: Gil Eckrich
National Audubon Society Update
Migratory Birds of the Americas Conservation Enhancements Act Passes

Success! The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Migratory Birds of the Americas Conservation Enhancements Act last week. This legislation is a beacon of hope for more than 350 species of migratory birds. Did you know? Since its inception, programs funded by the Neotropical Migratory Birds Conservation Act have supported more than 700 projects and invested over $89 million in grants to conserve migratory birds throughout the Americas—with a $5 return on every $1 spent.

This act doesn't just protect birds: it strengthens our economy and ecosystems. “We have 3 billion fewer birds in the world now than we did in 1970, so the enhancements to programs like this one are critical,” says Marshall Johnson, National Audubon Society Chief Conservation Officer. “Investing in bird habitats across the hemisphere makes both ecological and economic sense.” Thank you to the House members for their leadership in passing this bipartisan legislation. Now, the bill requires action by the Senate – please urge Texas Senators to support its reauthorization and full funding!
Roseate Spoonbill and White Ibis - Pamela Cohen / Audubon Photography Awards
Travis Audubon's New Leadership
Welcome to Mashariki Cannon as the new Executive Director at Travis Audubon Society, Austin, Texas. We look forward to working with you!
Mashariki Cannon
Coming Soon!
The 2024 Terry Hershey Award – Audubon Texas Women in Conservation Honorees will be announced soon.

The Texas Women in Conservation award supports conservation education, notably Audubon’s Texas Leaders in Conservation Program, which provides opportunities for high school students to become more involved in environmental science.

Learn more about the award and program.

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.


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