On the Wing
The 2011 spring and summer birding calendar.
By Shelly Plante
In addition to the events listed below, Texas state parks host frequent birding activities. A regularly updated calendar of all events at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department facilities can be found online at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/calendar/. Search this calendar by “Events and Activities” to find more outdoor adventures for you and your family year-round!
Laguna Atascosa Bird Walks and Tours — Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Los Fresnos. Discover the South Texas specialties at this birders’ paradise. Contact refuge for dates and times. Entry fee of $3 per vehicle. 956-748-3607; www.friendsofsouthtexasrefuges.org
Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge Bird Walks — Alamo. Join knowledgeable guides and explore this jewel of the National Wildlife Refuge system. Contact refuge for dates and times. Entry fee of $3 per vehicle. 956-784-7500; www.friendsofsouthtexasrefuges.org
Birding on the Boardwalk — Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, Port Aransas. The boardwalk is home to a variety of wetland species — cinnamon teal, black-bellied whistling-ducks, least grebes, cormorants, roseate spoonbills and a variety of herons and egrets. 9 a.m. Free. 800-45-COAST or 361-749-5919; www.portaransas.org
Second Saturday of each month
Bird and Nature Walk — Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, Athens. Join a monthly bird walk on an interpretive wetland trail and other areas around the hatchery. Plan to see 30 to 40 species on any given morning. Bring binoculars and field guide (not required). 9 to 11 a.m. Free with regular admission. 903-670-2266; www.tpwd.state.tx.us/tffc
Beginners’ Birdwalk — Alamo Heights. For beginners and newcomers to the San Antonio area. Site is next to swimming pool on Viesca Street. Some binoculars will be available. 8 a.m. (7:30 a.m. in June and July). Free. 210-308-6788; www.saaudubon.org
Second Saturday of most months (May 14 and June 11)
Guided Bird Walk — Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area, Lewisville. More than 270 species of birds have been documented on the learning area’s 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. Birders of all skill levels are welcome, ages 10 and up. $7 per person. Reservations are requested but not required. 972-219-3930; www.ias.unt.edu/llela
Third Saturday of the month
Bird Walk and Talk — Sheldon Lake State Park, Houston. This monthly event includes a stroll around the park’s many trails seeking spring neotropical migrants and other resident birds. Great for beginning birders and many opportunities for photographers. Free with park entry. 8:30 a.m.
Birding Tours — Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site, El Paso. Observe some of the more than 200 species of birds that visit the park with a well-informed guide to help you identify them. 7 to 9 a.m. $5 entry fee for participants 13 and older, plus $1 activity fee for participants 5 and older. Reservations required. 915-857-1135 or 915-849-6684; www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huecotanks
Blucher Park Bird Walks — Corpus Christi. Participants will bird Blucher Park and the expansive lawn behind the home of the Nature Conservancy across the street from the park. If needed, participants will be guided through the park and assisted with bird identification. Free. 361-443-0744.
Great Texas Birding Classic — Texas coast. Register your team and attempt to identify the most species in order to win prizes and select and fund important habitat protection efforts. Various prices for team entry; see website for details. 979-480-0999; www.birdingclassic.org
April 16 and 23
Spring Migration Tour — Fennessey Ranch, Refugio. Tally more than 100 species of birds while birding on a private coastal ranch. 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. $71 per person; lunch provided. 361-529-6600; www.fennesseyranch.com
Bird Migration Weekend — Brazos Bend State Park, Needville. Join the park staff for programs, guided hikes and demonstrations that explore the remarkable lives of birds and other wildlife that can be found in the area. Free with park admission. 979-553-5101; www.brazosbend.org
Monthly Birding Excursion — Weslaco. The Valley Nature Center is offering an informally organized birding trip to Port Mansfield, FM 186 and Coastal Flats. For more information, please contact the center. 7 a.m. $5 for members, $8 for nonmembers. 956-969-2475; www.valleynaturecenter.org
Spring Family Fun Day — Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Mission. Visit the park for a variety of family games and activities to celebrate springtime. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free with park entry. 956-584-9156; www.worldbirdingcenter.org
Birding Tour of the Texas Hill Country — Concan area. The Texas Hill Country, famous for its golden-cheeked warblers and black-capped vireos, cave swallow colonies and beautiful scenery, is often acclaimed to be one of the most beautiful parts of the state. $1,675 per person based on double occupancy. 717-548-3303; www.birdtreks.com
April 29–May 1
Wings Over the Hills, a Celebration of Natural Flight — Fredericksburg. Enjoy guided half- and full-day field trips to view endangered species (such as black-capped vireos and golden-cheeked warblers), dragonflies and local butterflies. Plus, visit a local bat colony and attend lectures and presentations by renowned birders and naturalists. See website for times and fees. www.wingsoverthehills.org
April 29–May 2
Balcones Songbird Festival — Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, Lago Vista. Located 35 miles northwest of Austin, this refuge offers excellent habitat for two Texas native endangered birds, the golden-cheeked warbler and the black-capped vireo.
Festival includes opportunities to view both species as well as butterflies and wildflowers, along with reptile exhibits and family events. 512-965-2473; www.balconessongbirdfestival.org
Birds of Prey and Wildlife Tour — Fennessey Ranch, Refugio. Work with pro photographer and biologist Todd Steele to capture images of birds of prey and other wildlife. Dawn to dusk. Half-day for $200, one day for $300, two days for $400, three days for $500, with group discounts available. 361-529-6600 or 281-398-7100, www.fennesseyranch.com
Brazos River Canoe Trip — Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary, McKinney. Spend two days paddling and one night camping as your guides share facts about the flora, fauna and geology of this scenic river. Paddling equipment and meals included. $250 for members, $300 for nonmembers. 972-562-5566; www.heardmuseum.org
WildFest San Antonio — San Antonio. Learn about the unique natural and historical environments while increasing your awareness of nature around San Antonio. Events will focus on birds, plants, bats, history, art, archaeology, geology, water and other nature topics, held at venues throughout the county including natural areas, museums, gardens and city, county, state and federal parks. Cost varies. 210-212-8423; www.wildfestsanantonio.org
International Migratory Bird Day: Go Wild, Go Birding — U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Roma. Event theme this year is especially for children, so get your kids involved in learning to bird. 8:30 a.m. Free. 956-849-4930; www.worldbirdingcenter.org/Roma.html
Migratory Bird Day — Tyler State Park, Tyler. Guided bird tours of Tyler State Park and Birding 101 classes are offered in the morning. In the afternoon, enjoy family-friendly activities including backyard birding and attracting birds to your yard. Free with park admission. 903-597-5338; www.tpwd.state.tx.us/tyler
Monthly Birding Excursion — Weslaco. The Valley Nature Center is offering an informally organized birding trip to the Nature Conservancy’s Southmost Preserve and Old Port Isabel Road. For more information, contact the center. 7 a.m. $5 for members, $8 for nonmembers. 956-969-2475; www.valleynaturecenter.org
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’s familiar by day becomes a whole new experience at night. Registration required. $12 for nonmembers, $10 for members. 972-562-5566; www.heardmuseum.org
Monthly Birding Excursion — Weslaco. The Valley Nature Center is offering an informally organized birding trip to Wallace Road and Monte Cristo Lower Rio Grande Valley Tract. For more information, contact the center. 7 a.m. $5 for members, $8 for nonmembers. 956-969-2475; www.valleynaturecenter.org
Raptors — Friedrich Wilderness Park, San Antonio. Learn about hawks, falcons, eagles, vultures and owls, including their feeding habits and their behavior. Dissect an owl pellet. $5 suggested donation, maximum of $10 per family. 9:30–11:30 a.m. 210-372-9124; www.sanaturalareas.org
Laguna Madre Kayak Tours — Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Los Fresnos. Catch a glimpse of dolphins, sea turtles and a variety of birds while learning basic kayak skills. Contact the refuge for reservations. Entry fee of $3 per vehicle plus $30 per-person program fee. 956-748-3607; www.friendsofsouthtexasrefuges.org
Heard Summer Nature Camps — Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary, McKinney. The days of kids enjoying their summers outdoors are not lost to the past. Kids will enjoy the summer months as they get an in-depth education on the 289-acre wildlife sanctuary. See website for camp descriptions, dates and pricing. 972-562-5566; www.heardmuseum.org