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May 2010 cover image 12 Vulnerable Nursery

2010 Spring/Summer Birding Calendar

Wild about birds? You’ve come to the right state!

By Shelly Plante & Michelle Guerra

Texas is home to a bevy of beautiful native birds, as well as many other feathered friends who grant us a splash of color and magic as they pass through each year. For bird watchers of all ages and skill levels, there are events across the state that will help you learn more about what you see. In addition to the events listed below, Texas state parks host frequent birding activities, and a regularly updated calendar of all events at Texas Parks and Wildlife facilities can be found online at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/calendar/. Search this calendar by “Events and Activities” or by “Regions” of the state to find more outdoor adventures for you and your family year-round!

Photo by Sean Fitzgerald

Recurring events

Every Tuesday and Thursday

Wetlands Education Center Tours — University of Texas Marine Science Institute, Port Aransas.

Guided tours in which visitors learn about the ecological and economic importance of coastal wetlands and how plants and animals are adapted to life in the salt marsh and sand dune environments. 10 a.m. Free. 361-749-6805; www.utmsi.utexas.edu/outreach/wetlands-education-center.html

Every Wednesday

Birding on the Boardwalk — Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, Port Aransas.

Guided bird walks with a local birding expert. 9 a.m. Free. 361-749-5919; www.cityofportaransas.org/Leonabelle_Turnbull_Birding_Center.cfm

Second Saturday of each month

Beginner’s Bird Walk — Judson Nature Trails, Alamo Heights.

An approximately two-hour introduction to the local birds for beginners and newcomers. Binoculars available for use. 8 a.m. Free. 210-308-6788; www.saaudubon.org/field.html

Nature Programs — Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, Sherman.

Programs on topics such as prairie restoration, bluebirds and raptors; informative talks; slide shows; and some short field trips. 10 a.m. Free. 903-786-2826;www.friendsofhagerman.com

Second Saturday for Youth — Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, Sherman.

Hands-on nature crafts and activities for ages 6–12. Reservations required. Free. 903-786-2826;www.friendsofhagerman.com

Third Saturday of each month

Bird Banding at the Sanctuary — Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, Lake Jackson.

See and photograph your favorite birds. Join the outing for monthly bird banding sessions. 8 a.m. to noon. Free. 979-480-0999; www.gcbo.org

Birding Tours — Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site, El Paso.

Guests should call the park to sign up for the tour, since there are limited spaces available. 7 a.m. in summer months; 8 a.m. in winter. $5 entry fee for 13 and older; additional $1 activity fee for ages 5 and above. 915-857-1135; www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huecotanks

Every Weekend (except Easter Sunday)

Blucher Park Bird Walks — Corpus Christi.

Go birding at Blucher Park and the expansive lawns behind the two Blucher homes across the street. If needed, participants will be guided through the park and assisted in bird identification. Free. 361-443-0744; www.ccbirding.com

Weekly, Wednesday – Saturday

Guided Bird Walks — Goose Island State Park, Rockport.

Join the park’s bird host on guided bird walks in the woods and on the island. Novice and experienced birders welcome. 8 a.m. Walks are free; park entry fee required. 361-729-2858; www.tpwd.state.tx.us/gooseisland

April

April 22-24

Nature Quest 2010 — Concan.

Get ready for one of the best birding and all-round nature festivals in Central Texas. You will enjoy learning from world-class experts about native plants, wildflowers, butterflies, insects, birds, bats and mammals through field trips, workshops, seminars and evening programs. 800-210-0380; www.thcrr.com

April 23-26

Balcones Songbird Festival — Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, Lago Vista.

Located 35 miles northwest of Austin, this refuge offers excellent habitat for two endangered birds, the golden-cheeked warbler and the black-capped vireo. Festival includes opportunities to view both species as well as butterflies and wildflowers on birding walks, plus reptile exhibits and family events. 512-339-9432; www.friendsofbalcones.org

April 24

17th Annual Bluebird Festival — Wills Point.

Celebrate the birds of Wills Point with special entertaining and educational training programs. Driving tours afford festival attendees access to hundreds of bluebirds and nesting boxes lining the roads into town. Arts and crafts, games and food and educational booths are set up downtown. 903-873-3111; www.willspointbluebird.com

Spring Migration Birding Tour — Fennessey Ranch, Bayside.

Spend the full day in the field at Fennessey Ranch racking up scores of species! Reservations required. Tours depart from main gate at 7:30 a.m. $68. 361-529-6600; www.fennesseyranch.com

April 24-May 2

Great Texas Birding Classic — Texas coast.

Register your team and attempt to identify the most species to win prizes and to help fund important habitat protection efforts. Various prices for team entry; see website for details. 979-480-0999; www.birdingclassic.org

May

May 1

Galveston County Spring Bird Count — Galveston County.

Prepare for International Migratory Bird Day with our Spring Bird Count. Teams are organized to cover different areas, including High Island and Bolivar Peninsula. Beginning bird watchers will be teamed up with more experienced birders. Free. 409-763-0667; www.houstonaudubon.org

Meet the Purple Martins: Seminar/Nest Check — South Texas Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, Corpus Christi.

Meet the purple martins nesting and hatching chicks in the martin houses at the botanical gardens. Experts Louise Chambers and John Barrow will teach you about life cycles and communal habits and how to keep your martin apartments “leased.” Gather the latest information on tracking purple martins in Texas. 10 a.m. to noon. $7, $3.50 for members. 361-852-2100; www.stxbot.org

May 1-8

Travis Audubon Bird-a-thon — Austin.

Participation is simple. You can create your own team, join an existing team or even fly solo as you search the Austin region of your choice in an effort to find the greatest number of bird species. Collect pledges to support Travis Audubon while winning prizes. Free. 512-300-2473; www.travisaudubon.org

May 8

Eco Adventures Canoe Trails — Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary, McKinney.

Our paddle programs allow guests to participate in a guided trail on the water while learning about the wetland habitat and animals. Ages 7 and up, $40 nonmembers, $30 members, 972-562-5566; www.heardmuseum.org

Festival on the Bayou — Houston Audubon.

Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day! This year’s theme is partnerships, so join us and other organizations for a fun family day on the bayou. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. $5 per person, kids under 3 are free. 713-932-1639; www.houstonaudubon.org

Guided Bird Walk — Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area, Lewisville.

More than 270 species of birds have been documented on 2,000 acres of forest, prairie, river and wetland habitat. The guided tour takes birders to some of the best locations, many of them not regularly open to the public. Ages 10 and up. Reservations required, 7:30 a.m., $7 per person, 972-219-7980; www.ias.unt.edu/llela

Shorebirds, Breeding Plumage, Blacklock! — South Texas Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, Corpus Christi.

South Texas birder and author Gene Blacklock leads this Saturday short course for all levels of birders studying Coastal Bend shorebirds, including breeding plumage. Morning lecture, afternoon field study. Bring binoculars. 8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. $15 including general admission, $11 members. 361-852-2100; www.stxbot.org

May 12

Birdathon and Award Ceremony — Houston Audubon, United Way Community Resource Center.

Help raise money for Houston Audubon. Form your team, gather pledges based on the number of bird species your team observes in any 24-hour period between March 27 and May 2, and join us for the award ceremony. 6:30 to 9 p.m. Free. 713-932-1639;

May 15

Birding Walk and Talk — Sheldon Lake State Park, Houston.

Upper Texas coast neotropic migration is in full swing! Join Friends of Sheldon Lake birders finding migrants and nesting species in the park’s varied habitats. 8:30 a.m. Free. 281-952-0772; www.foslsp.org

Native Plants of South Texas — Mitchell Lake Audubon Center, San Antonio.

Take a hike along the center’s Native Plant Trail with ethnobotanist Patty Leslie Pasztor to learn about plants. 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. $5 fee, free for Mitchell Lake Audubon Center members. 210-628-1639; www.mitchelllakeaudubon.org

May 22

Shorebird Field Class — Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, Lake Jackson.

With expert leadership, study the various field marks used to tell shorebirds apart, such as overall body shape, bill shape and length, leg color and plumage characteristics. 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. $95 nonmembers, $75 members. 979-480-0999; www.gcbo.org

May 28-29

Annual Texas Colonial Water Bird Census — Sheldon Lake State Park, Houston.

Elegant water birds have made a comeback thanks to efforts like this census. Join Friends of Sheldon Lake on one or both days to help count Texas’ largest inland water and wading bird rookery. 7:30 to 11 a.m. Free. 281-962-0772; www.foslsp.org

May 29

Third Annual Super Saturday at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge — Hagerman NWR, Sherman.

A full day of nature activities and fun for the whole family, including field trips, talks and hands-on crafts. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. 903-786-2826; www.friendsofhagerman.com

June

June 5

Adult Birding 101 — Mitchell Lake Audubon Center, San Antonio.

Tools, tips and techniques that will allow you to build your birding skills. From how to find birds to the tools and clues that will help you identify them, this workshop provides the information and field practice to help you get started birding. 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. $5 fee, free to Mitchell Lake Audubon Center members. 210-628-1639; www.mitchelllakeaudubon.org

June 12

Guided Bird Walk — Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area, Lewisville. See May 8 event details.

June 15, 22 and 29; July 6 and 13

Introduction to Ornithology — Houston Audubon, Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary.

A series of classes to study the remarkable physiology of birds. Although it’s not a field identification class, participants will learn information that will prove valuable in field study and identification of birds. 7 to 9 p.m. $175 nonmembers, $150 members. 713-932-1639; www.houstonaudubon.org

June-August

Heard Summer Nature Camps — Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary, McKinney.

The days of kids enjoying their summer outdoors are not lost to the past. Kids 5–14 will enjoy a stimulating summer on our 289-acre wildlife sanctuary. 972-562-5566; www.heardmuseum.org

July

July 24

Heard Night Hikes — Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary, McKinney.

Sneak a peek into the nocturnal world and experience nature in a whole new way! A trail that is familiar by day becomes a whole new experience at night. 7:30 p.m. Advance registration required. $12 nonmembers, $10 members. 972-562-5566; www.heardmuseum.org

 

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