Bird City Texas

Bird City Texas

An energetic committee of conservation-minded individuals from Bexar Audubon Society led the effort to certify San Antonio as a Bird City Texas to join Dallas, Houston, Bastrop, and Port Aransas.

BAS Awards 14 Mini-Grants

Bexar Audubon Society has made grant awards to fund 14 community initiatives that support the goals of the Bird City program. BAS Mini-Grant awards for 2021 were made for the following projects:

  • Alfredo P. Llamas, Texas A&M - San Antonio, Visitor Use and Avian Diversity Before, During, and After the Covid-19 Pandemic in San Antonio, Texas
  • Allison Hayne, South Texas Songbirds, Purple Martin Neighborhood Project
  • Amanda Kingman, South San Antonio ISD, Outdoor Education Program
  • Becky Etzler, Riverside Nature Center, Better Birding
  • Don Kirchoff, Kirchoff Prairie Restoration Site, Manfreda Restoration Project
  • Herlinda Martinez-Longoria , Columbia Heights Elementary, Butterfly Kisses and Garden Wishes, our wings will grow and unfold...
  • JD Morales, Woodlawn Lake Neighborhood Association, Winged Friends of Woodlawn Lake Park: Community Education Project
  • Jose A. Macias Jr., St Paul’s Episcopal Montessori School, A Glimpse of Nature
  • Joy Tuxhorn, Young Women's Leadership Academy, YWLA Pollinator Garden
  • Kenneth Lagleder, Lytle High School, Lytle High School Habitat Improvement Project
  • Leigh Owen, Friends of Cibolo Wilderness, Completion of New Bird Blind at Herff Farm
  • Leslie Gongora, Kerrville ISD Early Childhood Office, Humming Our
    Way to Pre-K
  • Pamela Ball, Headwaters at Incarnate Word, Headwaters Sanctuary Information
  • Teresa Craig, Kirchoff Prairie Restoration Site, The Kirchoff Prairie Bird Box Project

How You Can Help Prevent Bird Window Collisions

From Birds face innumerable threats in our human built environment and our glass surfaces are one of the biggest. During daylight hours, birds collide with reflective surfaces when they stop to feed or rest, when avoiding a predator or flying from tree to tree. Shiny glass exteriors, internal plants near windows, glass corners, and greenery close to buildings can all be deadly as birds are unable to distinguish reflection from open flyway. For every collision victim found, three more typically go unseen, flying out of sight before falling or being carried away by predators.

Read more about how you can help.


San Antonio Achieves Bird City Texas Designation

A steering committee led by co-chairs Britt Coleman and Sherie Gee and representing a variety of concerned groups, such as the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center, Native Plant Society, San Antonio Parks & Recreation, and many others, completed an application and submitted it in December 2020 for San Antonio to be certified as a Bird City Texas.

On February 11, the announcement was made that their efforts paid off! Read the press release from Texas Parks & Wildlife Department here. But our work isn't finished; we'll let you know about upcoming opportunities to get involved in carrying out our Bird City Texas projects.

Check out this video from Texas Parks & Wildlife. Click here for a flyer about our Bird City Texas efforts.

Cedar Waxwings

The San Antonio Report's Feb. 13 article (Cedar Waxwings photo above is from the story) features BAS members who worked very hard on the Bird City Texas (BCT) application and outlines some of the upcoming BCT-related projects we'll be undertaking with help from volunteers.

Mini-Grant Updates July 1, 2022

BAS Mini-Grant Program Updates

BAS awarded grants in December of 2021 to fund 14 community initiatives that support the goals of the Bird City program. All of these projects are currently underway and we have received photos and updates from several of the project leaders.

Teresa Craig, Kirchoff Prairie Bird Boxes: The BAS Mini-Grant funding allowed project volunteers to construct 30 bird boxes and make repairs on older boxes at the Kirchoff Prairie. These new boxes, along with several owl and duck boxes contributed by Don Kirchoff, co-owner of Kirchoff Prairie, brought the total number of boxes to 110 on the 200-acre prairie. The $400 Mini-Grant paid for wood-working supplies (hole-saw, raw linseed oil, paint brushes, screws) and lumber (cedar pickets, cedar boards, pine boards).

Joy Tuxhorn, Young Women’s Leadership Academy Pollinator Garden: Grant funds were used for native nectar plants; fruits, vegetables, and herbs; seeds; compost and mulch; lumber for plants beds; bench table supplies; and binoculars.

  • Pollinator Garden: We were able to maintain the beds we created last year as well as adding 3 more pollinator beds. We planted native nectar plants, vegetables, and herbs. Along with planting, we were also able to weed, create a drip irrigation system, and add compost and mulch to the beds. We were also able to build 10 convertible bench-tables to create an outdoor garden space.
  • STEAM Class: In the 6th grade STEAM class, we were able to research native plants and pollinators to select the appropriate plants and design for our garden. The girls were able to utilize the garden in biodiversity surveys, lessons about our ecoregion, and urban gardening. A favorite activity was making wildflower seed bombs to use around the neighborhood.
  • Urban Bird Project: Partnering with UTSA, our students were able to work with UTSA professors to engage our students in bird-focused ecological research and increase cross-cultural understanding of the importance of birds across communities. We were able to go on several bird walks within the community as well as hold a symposium where our students were able to present their research to the community.

Amanda Kingman, South San Antonio ISD: Some of the completed work is an Introduction to the Conservation of Birds with birdhouse construction and decorating with birdseed for attracting more birds and a pledge to create awareness of how to conserve birds in their environment. Also, we had a wonderful presentation about birds and conservation by Erin Magerl from Mitchell Lake Audubon Center. We also asked students to map out a garden including measurements, types and number of plants, and plant locations.

Pamela Ball, Headwaters Sanctuary at Incarnate Word: Funds were awarded ($250) to help pay for printing Headwaters Sanctuary, Upper Field, and Invasive Plant brochures. To date, 500 copies of the Headwaters Sanctuary tri-fold brochure have been printed and 500 more will be printed in October when the brochure is updated. The new Invasive Plant tri-fold brochure will be printed in early July. The Upper Field brochure will be finalized in the third quarter to include the new native grass prairie, the recently added birding corridor, the new garden observation loop, the recently installed Purple Martin eight-gourd station, and the final Circle of the Springs Garden pollinator plant listing.

Herlinda Martinez-Longoria, Columbia Heights Elementary: Bexar Audubon Society awarded Columbia Heights Elementary a mini-grant toward our “Butterfly Kisses and Garden Wishes” project. The goal of the project was not only to beautify our outdoor space, but to provide outdoor learning opportunities. The mini grant allowed us to construct seven new garden boxes in the courtyard, playscape, and garden areas of our campus. Five of our new garden boxes will have a multitude of varieties of flowers to serve as pollinators and bird-friendly habitats. The other two garden boxes were added to our existing garden space to provide additional planting space for fruits and vegetables. Grant funds went toward the purchase of our starter plants, soil, mulch, and some garden tools. Our students and teachers have thoroughly enjoyed our gardens growing. Students did not only use the gardens for study space, they took measurements to track growth, they helped weed the gardens, they harvested vegetables, picked flowers, and helped maintain feeders to attract friends in nature. They also recorded the various birds they saw on the grounds.

Don Kirchoff, Kirchoff Prairie: The BAS grant made possible construction in February of two 50’ X 50’ plots enclosed by 6’ welded steel wire fencing to protect Manfreda seedlings from predation. The seedling population was reduced by a hard freeze in late February and there were a few losses during transplanting. Two transplanting events in March and April resulted in about 200 healthy plants growing in protected areas. Additional seedlings are being grown with plans to transplant them to the existing plots this fall.

Extreme drought conditions require that the transplants be watered. The surviving young Manfreda plants are healthy despite the drought. They are expected to flower and produce seeds in a couple years, eventually expanding the population to at least 500 adult plants, the number needed to support a population of the endangered Manfreda Giant-Skipper.

Becky Etzler, Riverside Nature Center: The purchase of eight Nikon ProStaff 3S binoculars has greatly enhanced both our youth and adult education programs. Binoculars are now available to borrow during our monthly Bird Walk & Talks, averaging 15 birders per month. Visitors are encouraged to use them as part of their experience at our bird blind. Easy check- out is available at the reception desk. A class on beginner binocular use was added to the curriculum for three field trips; Heritage School 4th grade class of 12 students, Grace Academy K-5 with 23 students, and Adult Advantage Care with 10 clients. The afterschool program with the Doyle Community Center has been put on hold due to staffing changes at the community center. It is our hope to revisit this opportunity next year.

Alfredo P. Llamas, Texas A&M - San Antonio, Visitor Use and Avian Diversity Before, During, and After the Covid-19 Pandemic in San Antonio, Texas.

Along the San Antonio Reach, 18 point counts are spread evenly across three sections of the river. This means we have six point counts in every section of the reach. We have applied this same method with our three rural sites where each site is containing six points inside their property limits. In order to may maximize our chances of no overlap or double counting of individual birds, we have spaced out each count evenly and they are, at a minimum, 250 meters away from each other. It allows us to get a complete picture of what species and number of individuals of said species are inhabiting the San Antonio Reach, and rural sites of Kerr and Kendall County. Once the point count data is complete to measure each site's bird richness and diversity, we will then turn our attention to starting and completing the survey plots of the flora communities of each ecosystem so that we may measure the beta diversity of the study.

At the beginning of December 2021, we were kindly awarded $500 to help with travel expanses to these rural sites. This grant money has been the ultimate difference deciding whether or not we were/are able to complete our research.

So that BAS can continue to support conservation projects like these, we need your financial contributions. You can make a contribution here and designate your funds to be applied to the BAS Mini-Grant Program.

BAS Mini-Grant Program Updates

BAS awarded grants in December of 2021 to fund 14 community initiatives that support the goals of the Bird City program. All of these projects are currently underway.

Kirchoff Prairie Bird Box Project

Teresa Craig, an Alamo Area Master Naturalist who volunteers at the Kirchoff Prairie Project, received a BAS Mini-Grant for the purchase of supplies used by volunteers to construct a variety of bird boxes and platforms for installation on the Kirchoff Prairie, as shown in the photo below.

Volunteers built the mountain of boxes and platforms seen on the table in the photo below and Don Kirchoff built the larger boxes in his garage. Teresa is proudly surveying the work of the volunteers. All these boxes will be installed on the prairie at locations selected by Teresa.

Manfreda Restoration Project

 Don Kirchoff, the dedicated environmentalist who originated the Kirchoff Prairie Project, leads a large and diverse group of volunteers engaged in a wide spectrum of conservation activities. BAS awarded Don a small grant to help support the Manfreda Restoration Project.

The National Butterfly Center suggested that a colony of approximately 500 Manfreda plants is required to support a population of the Manfreda Giant-Skipper butterfly, an Endangered Species, last reported in Wilson County in 2004.

With a goal to restore a population of 500 Manfreda plants to the Kirchoff Prairie, volunteers planted seeds collected from the Kirchoff Prairie and from remnant stands of native plants into trays for later transplant in the prairies.

Manfreda seedlings (pictured above) are growing remarkably well. Seeds collected from remnant stands of native plants were planted into these trays in October. At least 500 Manfreda plants are needed to attract and support a population of the endangered Giant Manfreda Skipper.

The BAS Mini-Grant was used to construct predator exclusion fencing to protect Manfreda Maculosa plants. The photo below shows volunteers installing this protective fencing.

The Lytle High School
Habitat Improvement Project

Kenneth Lagleder, a teacher at Lytle High School, developed a carefully designed project to improve the habitat of the high school grounds for birds and to serve as an educational resource for students. The two photos below show how some of the project support funds are being used.

Headwaters Sanctuary Information Project

Funds were awarded to Headwaters Sanctuary to support the development of brochures describing the transformation of this environmental jewel in the heart of San Antonio. To date, 500 copies of the Headwaters Sanctuary tri-fold brochure have been printed and delivered. Pamela Ball, the program director, and a large cadre of devoted volunteers have done amazing work at this site. You might consider visiting Headwaters and even joining this great group of volunteers. Pam has expanded her vision for the Upper Field to include a native grass prairie on the two acres surrounding the Circle of the Springs Garden (42 pollinator species in an 80 ft. diameter design). The Native Prairie Project will be installed March – July 2022. The Upper Field brochure design is being reworked to include the prairie and a Purple Martin house feature.

Purple Martins Neighborhood Project

Allison Hayne, South Texas Songbirds, used BAS Mini-Grant funding to purchase a new 12-gourd rack, gourd mounting arms, and 8 additional gourds for Purple Martin housing. She replaced an 8-gourd rack with the 12-gourd rack located on Edsel Parkway in Terrell Hills close to St. David’s Church. This Purple Martin colony has been going strong for four years and she wanted to increase the number of nesting compartments available. The pole was donated to the UIW Headwaters Sanctuary; Allison and her husband installed it for them and added gourds that they purchased. The photo below shows the gourd rack. Click here for a video of the Purple Martins.

So that BAS can continue to support conservation projects like these, we need your financial contributions. You can make a contribution here and designate your funds to be applied to the BAS Mini-Grant Program.

BAS Creates Community Grant Support Fund

In December 2021, Bexar Audubon Society initiated the Community Grant Support Fund, a dedicated fund maintained by Bexar Audubon Society. The Fund is used to support community conservation initiatives that further the goals of Bird City Texas within the geographic region served by BAS (Atascosa, Bandera, Bexar, Comal, Guadalupe, Kendall, Kerr, Medina, and Wilson counties). Donors to BAS may designate this fund when making donations. Donations into this fund will either be allocated during the current fiscal year or rolled over to the following fiscal year.

Northside Lions Club Donation for BAS Bird City Texas Efforts

Jerre Williams, left, hands Patsy Inglet a donation for BAS Bird City Texas projects.

BAS Engagement Chair Patsy Inglet recently spoke to the Northside Lions Club about Bexar Audubon Society and Bird City Texas. Jerre Williams of Northside Lions Club offered BAS a generous donation to put toward Bird City Texas activities.

Spanish and English Versions of Backyard Bird Guides for Kids are Now Available

Bexar Audubon has created a two-page backyard bird guide for children. Click here to print the Spanish version and here to print the English version.

Bird Surveys on Alamo City Golf Trail Courses
for Bird City Texas

A group of 10 BAS member surveyed birds at Cedar Creek Golf Course on July 12 as part of our Bird City Texas efforts. Close to 30 species were seen, with highlights being a Yellow-throated Vireo and wild turkeys.

On May 31, 2021, a group of Bexar Audubon birders met at the Olmos Basin Golf Course to do a bird survey as part of our Bird City Texas responsibilities. More than 30 species were found on the course, which has been closed since January for reconstruction. The course is one of the eight golf courses in the Alamo City Golf Trail.

City Council Passes Resolution Recognizing
World Migratory Bird Day

 [San Antonio, Tx. December 4, 2020] The San Antonio City Council voted unanimously in council session December 3, 2020, to support the Resolution that annually recognizes WORLD MIGRATORY BIRD DAY (WMBD) as being significant to the city and community at large. San Antonio is in the Central Migratory Flyway and is an essential stop for migratory birds in both spring and fall due to the diverse ecosystems found in Bexar County. The resolution further recognizes Mitchell Lake Audubon Center (MLAC) located just south of San Antonio. MLAC conducts a celebration of WMBD every spring in early May with many educational community outreach programs featuring birds and the habitats in which they live.


Learn Why It's a Bad Idea to Feed Ducks Bread

You see people feeding bread to ducks at area ponds, lakes and rivers all the time. But a diet heavy in breads and other empty carbohydrates can lead to severe health consequences and numerous additional problems for ducks and other water fowl. Read more about why it's a bad idea to feed ducks bread.

Read this Call to Action for Keeping Birds Safe from Light Pollution and Window Strikes

Arthur Melville Pearson, CEO of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History,  has a written a sobering essay called "The Fall of the Sparrow," which really brings home the most unfortunate ways that light pollution and window strikes bring down birds--possibly ONE BILLION die a year. Click here to read this powerful article.

YOU can ACT to make San Antonio More Bird Friendly!

7 simple actions

Do Citizen Science: Enter your bird sightings in eBird. Post photos of birds, plants, animals, butterflies and other insects to iNaturalist. Use the Merlin bird ID app to help identify the birds you see. Participate in the local Audubon Christmas Bird Count and Climate Change counts. 

Make Windows Safer: A variety of products are available to place on or next to windows to prevent birds from hitting them. American Bird Conservancy offers several items on their website. Learn how to make a Zen Wind Curtain or purchase one from Acopian BirdSavers. Watch a couple of brief videos about how turning lights out at night can help migratory birds. Video 1 and Video 2.

Keep Cats Indoors: Protect Cats – Birds – Humans: Your kitty doesn't have to stay indoors ALL the time. Buy a catio (cat + patio = catio) plan from Catio Spaces to build a safe, enclosed outdoor area to keep cats and birds safe. Buy pre-made catios at Petco or Catio World. The American Bird Conservancy provides safe solutions for pets on their website.

Use Native Plants: Three great resources for native plants are the National Audubon Society Native Plant Database, the Native Plant Society of Texas, and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Avoid Pesticides: Native plants are your best defense against pests. Texas AgriLife has an informative brochure, "Low Impact Pest Control for Everyone," featuring natural remedies for insect and pest control.

Drink Shade-grown Coffee: Ruta Maya is but one shade-grown coffee producer with product available locally. Audubon offers Smithsonian Bird-friendly certified coffee. Birdwatching Bliss provides detailed information about bird friendly coffee. Check out the Cornell Lab's video and articles about bird-friendly coffee.

Reduce Plastic Use: Audubon offers the informative article, "Eight Easy Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Waste." If you live in San Antonio, review acceptable plastics for recycling on this City of San Antonio webpage. We have a Thoughtful Consumer column on the Bexar Audubon website with ideas for non-plastic products to use around the house.

Green Tree Illustration

Invest in Solar Energy: Chosen by CPS Energy, Big Sun Community Solar is a new, hassle free way to buy solar energy. Big Sun builds, manages, maintains and insures your offsite solar system while you lower your monthly electric bill and claim the tax savings!

Save Water: San Antonio Water System (SAWS) offers a variety of water-saving programs on their website.

Conserve Resources: Learn how reducing, reusing, and recycling can help you, your community, and the environment by saving money, energy, and natural resources.

Cut Back on Chemicals: White vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and baking soda are all great ingredients you can use to make your own household cleansers.

Create Compost: Start a compost pile to provide natural, organic material to help your plants grow.

Turn Your Lawn into a Xeriscape: In urban areas of Texas, about 25 percent of the water supply is used for landscape and garden watering. Creating a xeriscape with native plants is a good way to provide food for birds and butterflies while cutting back on your water usage.