Engagement

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.

Take Action to Help Improve
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. More specifically, these plans include:

  • Connection to existing Greenway hike and bike trails
  • Expanded educational pavilion
  • Enhanced native gardens
  • Wildlife viewing areas and picnic areas
  • Parking and restrooms
  • Improved roads and trails
  • Welcoming entrance and educational stations
  • Re-creation of historical bat house and roosting site

These improvements will create new opportunities for outdoor education and recreation in a traditionally under-resourced community. Moreover, the plan supports San Antonio’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan by promoting biodiversity and healthy ecosystems.  All of which will help empower residents to take personal action towards mitigating climate change.

But these improvements cost money. MLAC was left off the list in the first iteration of the Bond package, so we MUST lobby for its inclusion. Mitchell Lake is requesting a small portion of the coming $1.2 billion bond proposal which will be voted on next May. Click here to read more about the Mitchell Lake proposal. To help make sure this proposal is part of the bond package, you can:

  1. Click here to send a note to your city council representative. Audubon has already set it up so it is very easy to do.
  2. Click here to sign up to attend a Parks and Recreation bond committee meeting to be held at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center from 6:00 to 8:00 PM. Strong public, in person participation will make a huge, impactful difference. Meeting dates are Tuesday evenings: November 16 or December 7.

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

Join Climate Watch

Help build a better world for birds when you participate in Climate Watch

Climate change is the biggest threat to birds around the world. Learn how you can help by counting climate-threatened species in Audubon’s bird and climate change community science program—Climate Watch.

Audubon’s 2022 Climate Watch winter season is kicking off soon (January 15 through February 15), and volunteers are needed to participate in this community science effort. Climate Watch is a national project to explore how birds are responding to climate change. The groundbreaking report Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink used used Climate Watch data to expand the details of bird migration and distribution. Explore the implications of climate change for birds in Bexar County here.

Bexar Audubon Society is leading the project in our area this year, and we are seeking volunteer birders to participate in surveying for Lesser Goldfinch in specific 10 km x10 km squares across our region. Learn more about how climate change will reshape the range of the Lesser Goldfinch.

Requirements: A time commitment of 2-4 hours at least once between January 15 and February 15 to survey at least one 10km x10km section for the Lesser Goldfinch. You can enter your data into eBird via phone app then submit it to National Audubon through a designated portal.

Two FREE Training Sessions will be offered via ZOOM—optional, but very helpful. You are welcome to attend one or both sessions.

December 2, 2021                2:30-4:30 PM and/or

January 5, 2022                      5:30-7:30 PM

These protocol training/overviews will give you a good idea of what’s involved. In the meantime, you can find some excellent information on the National Audubon Climate Watch website.

If you are NEW to Climate Watch, click here.

If you have participated in Climate Watch before and need a review, click here.

Email local Climate Watch Coordinator Patsy Inglet to volunteer or for more information: engagement@bexaraudubon.org


 

 

BAS Members Help with Bird Survey
in Wilson County

On Saturday, November 13, BAS members and other volunteers helped with a bird survey on the 88-acre Creech Prairie near Floresville in Wilson County. The group saw 35 species (306 individual) birds, with highlights including nine sparrow species, meadowlarks, Northern Harrier, and Wilson’s Snipe.


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.


 

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.

BAS Sponsors San Antonio
Young Birders Club

Do you like to look at, listen to, and learn about birds?

That makes you a Birder.

Are you between the ages of 8 and 18?

That makes you a Young Birder.

Would you like to improve your birding and leadership skills and have fun outdoors with other people your age who are also interested in birds?

Then join the San Antonio Young Birders Club and become a SAYBC Chickadee!

When we are permitted to gather in groups again, we'll meet once a month between September and June at a variety of great birding spots in and near San Antonio.

Membership in the SAYBC is free, and we have binoculars and bird guidebooks to loan.

If you are interested, please contact Flock Leaders Tom and Patsy Inglet: bexaraudubonsociety@bexaraudubon.org.

Senior Team in Action Young Birders

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.

9 Great Outdoor Learning Activities for Springtime

13 Best Nature Documentaries for Kids

Home Science: Backyard Conservation Lessons

Nature Journaling with Children — Keep it Easy, Fun, and Simple

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.

Fun Sports Activities and Games for Kids

10 Really Cool Outdoor Adventures with Kids

4 Tips When Mountain Biking with Your Child

Genius Hacks to Make Camping with Kids Fun and Stress-Free

How to Safely Observe Wildlife from Your Home

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.

How to Plan a Community Cleanup

Community Cleanup - Keep Austin Beautiful

Adopt-a-Beach Cleanup

You Can Be a River Hero: Take Part in a Cleanup

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
Birding Tours

The Mitchell Lake Audubon Center is open with FALL operating hours (Friday - Sunday, 8am - 3pm), Thursdays by appointment only through February 14th.

Please contact us at least 48 hours prior to your requested Thursday date. Email us at MLAC@audubon.org to book a time.

Please review visit guidelines at our COVID-19 Guidelines webpage. Review our hours and general guidelines at the Plan Your Visit webpage. Purchase your tickets today HERE.

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

Volunteers can sign for any of these positions using Volgistics by clicking here.  Or you can send an email to shanae.dana@audubon.org.

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.

Bird Surveying 
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.

For updates and a daily dose of nature, follow these social media sites:
Facebook.com/mitchelllakeaudubon
Twitter.com/MLAudubonCenter
Instagram @mitchelllakeauduboncenter
National Audubon Society