Bexar Audubon Society Engagement
In addition to the outings planned by Bexar Audubon Society in San Antonio, we also enjoy promoting, attending, and providing volunteer support for birding festivals and special events outside of our immediate area. Check back often to learn more about upcoming events.
Mitchell Lake Audubon Center:
The Hidden Jewel of
San Antonio’s South Side
Mitchell Lake has a vision not just be a world class birding center but also to be a premier eco-cultural tourism destination in Central Texas. Audubon, in collaboration with San Antonio Water System, has created plans for improving existing infrastructure, expanding accessibility and public access, and adding safety features and amenities. The Center has been allocated $6 million for improvements in the 2022-2027 Bond Project for Parks & Recreation. Priorities for use of these funds include:
- Expanded educational pavilion
- Improved parking area
- Redesigned roads and trails
Click here to read more about the Mitchell Lake proposal.
More about Mitchell Lake Audubon Center
Birdwatching enthusiasts from across the globe call Mitchell Lake Audubon Center a world-class destination. Its mission is to connect people to nature through conservation and community education focused on birds and their habitats. Mitchell Lake’s ponds, grassland, wetlands, brushland and woodlands boast more than 340 bird species as well as a diverse assemblage of reptiles, amphibians, insects, mammals, and plants. Located at the literal crossroads of San Antonio’s thriving hike and bike trail system, this 1,200 acre hidden jewel of the South Side is uniquely positioned to become a vibrant, gateway destination for nearby residents, nature lovers throughout the region, and birding enthusiasts from around the world.
Birds need us
Mitchell Lake’s wetland habitat is one of the last critical stopover grounds before the Texas Coast. Shorebirds utilize muddy shores or mudflats to gather important food resources. Mitchell Lake is the only site in the San Antonio area that has mud flat habitat vital to shorebirds, making the habitat here critical for migrants. Additionally, it is a major wintering site for migratory waterfowl.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 98.5% of long-distance migratory bird species in the US pass through Mitchell Lake Audubon Center
- 340+ bird species documented at the center
- 30 species documented from Audubon's WatchList for Bexar County (bird species that have the greatest conservation needs)
- 120 plant species
- 315 acres of wetlands & ponds
- 285 acres of brushlands, grasslands, and woodlands
People love us
From its inception in 2004, Mitchell Lake Audubon Center has welcomed visitors to its refuge, inviting them to participate in nature education programs. This innovative approach—preserving open space not just to protect wildlife and native habitat from people, but to actively engage people in its conservation through learning and exploration—serves as a model for Audubon and other nature education centers nationwide and has influence the development of place-based experiential learning as a highly effective pedagogical practice.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 12,000 visitors annually
- 53% visitors from San Antonio and surrounding area
- 49 species of birds seen by average explorer
- 7.5 miles of trails
- 4 geocaches
- 4,000 students participate in educational programming onsite
- 81% of students served are economically disadvantaged
- 70% schools served are Title 1
Informative Bird Banding Video from
Mitchell Lake Audubon Center
Bird bander and TPWD and Texas Nature Trackers naturalist Craig Hensley and his team spent a glorious morning banding birds at Mitchell Lake Audubon Center. Watch the video here for an intro to bird banding, including a look at their specialized equipment, and a fantastic up close view of some of the birds banded that morning. Forward the video to 7:42 for the start to finish banding of a beautiful male Northern Cardinal. Other birds in the video are a Loggerhead Shrike, Lincoln's Sparrow, Black-crested Titmouse, Hermit Thrush, and an Eastern Phoebe.
Watch the "Introduction to Birdmania" Video
On Saturday, June 13, 2020, Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy presented a Live Virtual Nature Talk. Birding educators Tom and Patsy Inglet (Patsy is president of Bexar Audubon Society) hosted a birding presentation for all ages. Learn the basics of birding and using binoculars to see local birds. Click here to visit the Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy website to watch the video and download Tom and Patsy's handouts from the presentation.
Lakeville Nature Conservancy Shares Native Plants Info with BAS
On behalf of the Lakeville Nature Conservancy, I just wanted to let the Bexar Audubon Society know your Engagement web page was a big help to our group! In honor of Earth Day this month, we've teamed up with our local community center and for the next 6 weeks, our organization will be hosting an Environmental Education Workshop. We're teaching the community about a plethora of topics, including understanding conservation practices, exploring native plants, creating pollinator and wildlife habitats, etc. You shared some great birding websites to incorporate into our seminars, so our group requested I reach out and thank you to let you know how much you've helped us!
And as a thank you, one of our members from the workshop asked me to share these two guides that she found.
From BottleStore.com: A wonderful overview for creating pollinator gardens for butterflies, birds, bees, and even bats!
From AvasFlowers.net: This one is a fantastic collection of information for gardening for birds and other pollinators. It even includes information on building birdfeeders and shelters and general bird watching basics.
~Lisa Garcia, April 10, 2023
BAS Members Help with Bird Survey
in Wilson County
On Sunday, April 24, BAS members and other volunteers helped with a bird survey at the Kirchoff Prairie in Wilson County. The group tallied 50 species in all, including two species not documented in eBird previously for Kirchoff Prairie (Indigo Bunting and Great Kiskadee). They also added a Baltimore Oriole, another new species for the property. Kirchoff Prairie's bird list now stands at 143 species.
Choosing Bird-friendly Plants
Click here to read Seth Patterson's informative article about landscaping for birds. Seth is a conservation consultant for San Antonio Water System.
Learn More About Birdability
Through education, outreach, and advocacy, Birdability works to ensure the birding community and the outdoors are welcoming, inclusive, safe, and accessible for everybody. The organization focuses on people with mobility challenges; blindness or low vision; chronic illness; intellectual or developmental disabilities; mental illness; and those who are neurodivergent, deaf, or hard of hearing or who have other health concerns. In addition to current birders, the group strives to introduce birding to people with disabilities and other health concerns who are not yet birders so they, too, can experience the joys of birding. Read more.
Native Plant Society Videos to View at Your Leisure
Learn about legends and lore of Texas native wildflowers and trees, find out how to create a backyard butterfly buffet, and more. The Native Plant Society of Texas has made several videos available here.
Education & Entertainment for Birders
Our friends at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have made numerous resources available to keep us informed and entertained.
How to Address Nature-Deficit Disorder
in Your Children
By Jenny Miller, STOPNDD.org
Each year, it seems like play shifts further from traditional toys to electronic devices. While there are plenty of educational games for kids on these devices, nothing quite compares to getting outside for some good old-fashioned fun. Not only does exposure to nature help kids get more active, but it also encourages creativity, socialization, and a lifelong respect for the natural world. Find some great ideas for fighting the disconnection from nature below.
Teaching Kids about the Importance of Nature at Home
Since children are drawn to technology, getting them to set aside the devices for a while and head outside is important. Here’s some important info regarding kids and nature.
Exciting Outdoor Adventures for Kids
Now that you understand the importance of spending time in nature, what’s next? Discuss outdoor activities with your child and see what they’re into. If you’re stumped for ideas, the following resources can help steer you in the right direction.
Ways to Give Back While Spending Time Outside
What’s better than spending time in nature? Helping people and the environment while you’re at it! The following resources can help you find ways to give back while enjoying nature.
When given the opportunity, kids will love spending more time outside. There are endless ways to have fun as a family, whether you’re having an adventure or learning something new. Outdoor time can also become more meaningful by finding ways to give back to the community.
Photo credit: Pexels
Mitchell Lake Audubon Center
Summer Seasonal Hours
(June 14 - October 3)
- Tuesday through Thursday, 7am to 1pm
- Friday through Sunday, 7am to 2pm
- Entrance gate closes 60 minutes before close.
- Closed on major and/or Federal holidays
Guided Birding Tours
On this guided bird tour around the various habitats of Mitchell Lake Audubon Center, guests will see 30-50 different bird species with our expert guide. Travelling by both car and by foot to access as many areas as possible This tour is best suited for the birder age 15+ as it can last up to four hours, though you may leave at any time.
Time & Seasonality
Every Sunday morning (except fifth Sunday of month) at 8:00am
REGISTER HERE for Bird Tours.
Volunteer Opportunities for BAS Members at MLAC
Visitor Center Naturalists
Thank you to all our Visitor Center Naturalists! We so appreciate your time and the volunteer work you do on weekends in support of the Mitchell lake Audubon Center…it is such a great help to the staff on duty! We now have two shifts on Saturdays and Sundays, 8 am-11 am and 11 am-3 pm.
Come out once a week to survey the property and birds at Mitchell Lake Audubon Center. This opportunity is available during the week on Wednesdays when the center is closed to the public. Our onsite host will meet you when you arrive and provide a radio in case of emergency. This activity may be done alone or in pairs. Volunteers will survey the property and input the bird list into eBird, the premier mobile bird tracking app from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.