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Common Nighthawk

Newsroom Archive 2

From August 10, 2017 thru January 7, 2018

This article was featured in the January 2018 newsletter of the Houston Federation of Garden Clubs. It explains how and why to create a bird-friendly yard and provides a list of plants to include and to avoid.

Bruce McCandless II, former NASA astronaut and Houston Audubon board member, died on Thursday, December 21, 2017. The articles below cover Bruce's career in the space arena. His contributions to bird conservation in the Upper Texas Coast start with his long tenure on our Board of Directors.

Our education Great-horned Owl named Tskili was featured in a recent article by Gary Clark, the weekly nature columnist for the Houston Chronicle. The article gives a good explanation of the owl's mating calls late at night at this time of year. The photos were taken by Kathy Adams Clark.

For a historical perspective, Gary was President of Houston Audubon Society from 1989-91. During that time, he purchased the North American Rare Bird Alert (NARBA) which was run by HAS from 1990-2013. Gary is currently on our Board of Advisors.

Read this link for more about Gary's birding background.

We have produced a short documentary film showcasing the Rookery at High Island and the role the Houston Audubon Society has played in public education and conservation in the State of Texas. Over the past 48 years Houston Audubon has been an active steward of wildlife and waterbird habitat restoration along the Upper Texas Coast. The world-renowned sanctuaries at High Island are visited annually by birders, environmentalists, photographers and students. The Rookery at Smith Oaks is a must-see destination for visitors to High Island and is the focus of our film. We spent two years and multiple trips to the Rookery to capture the dynamics of the breeding bird populations that include Roseate Spoonbills, Great and Snowy Egrets, Neotropic Cormorants and Gallinules. The pristine habitat of the Rookery is captured along with the frenzied interactions between birds, their predators and their environment.

The video was produced by Michelle Belden (Videographer - Lost Pines Chapter, Texas Master Naturalist), Dr. David Mitchell and Mike Goebel.

Bolivar Naturally is a group of guides to plants and birds seen on the Bolivar Peninsula on the Texas Gulf Coast. There are five guides which are organized to make it easier to identify the species:


There are also resources for obtaining and using native plants on your property. Visit Bolivar Naturally to enjoy the variety and beauty of what can be seen on Bolivar!

A new advocacy article discusses how Houston Audubon is working with national, state, and local conservation groups to track, monitor, and respond to actions that could make a Galveston Bay Coastal Spine project happen. This article contains a Timeline of Action related to a Texas Coastal Barrier System on the Upper Texas Coast.

Happy Holidays from the birds at Sims Bayou Urban Nature Sanctuary.

Matt and Tara Michaels provided this "fish story."

Houston Audubon is one step closer to receiving a significant grant for the Bolivar Nature Trail! The Department of Treasury approved the State’s Multi-Year Implementation Plan which includes the Bolivar Nature Trail project. We are keeping our fingers crossed that we are one of the organizations to receive the request to complete an application in this first round of funding.

Join us at Archbishop Fiorenza Park Phase 2 as the Superb Owls, led by Richard Gibbons, face off against the Gridiron Goatsuckers, led by Mary Anne Weber. Participants may pick either team to bird with. For more information, contact Mary Anne at
Date: Saturday, February 3, 2018
Time: 10 AM - Noon

Planning Ahead for 2019
Planning Ahead for 2019

Sixteen participants comprised of staff and conservation specialists participated in a retreat held at the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory in Lake Jackson, Texas. The objective was to start planning for Houston Audubon's 50th anniversary which occurs in 2019. Goals include events and new initiatives to broaden our reach while promoting the mission and vision.

The November 2017 issue of Houstonia magazine featured a cover story entitled "67 Great Dates in Houston." The best free date was "Hiking the Houston Audubon Society's Edith Moore Sanctuary." According to Houstonia, "Your date will feel like you’ve led them into a secret garden at this hidden treasure in Memorial. Free bird and nature walks along a heavily wooded portion of Rummel Creek are offered the first Saturday of every month, but it’s equally rewarding to discover the beautiful bridges and picturesque ponds on your own." It's nice to see that a magazine oriented to the socially active set recognizes the treasure that is our sanctuary.

Sarah Flournoy, Program Manager of Bird Friendly Communities, and Richard Gibbons, Conservation Director, were interviewed by Laurent Fouilloud-Buyat, host of Houston’s Public Affairs radio show and Director of Public Affairs - iHeartMedia Houston. They discussed owls, bats, and bird-friendly activities as well as the consequences of the flood on our local sanctuaries.

The Audubon Docent Guild held their annual holiday party in the historic cabin at the Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary in west Houston on Sunday, December 3, 2017. Many members of the guild and guests attended despite the rainy weather conditions. Several remembered last year's event which fell on the coldest day of 2016, so this was a lot better. A little rain couldn't dampen their celebrating spirits. Sheryl Marquez, Guild President, discussed the long list of accomplishments in the past year and looked forward to continuing the successful camp programs and sanctuary maintenance.

Click the link to see a photo gallery of people that enjoyed the party.

The hardest working raptors in Houston from our Education Department just got their annual exams at the awesome Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists.

A link to the full Bird-Friendly Habitat Guide is provided in the article.
This 54-page guide aims to support development that contributes to functioning ecosystems  and healthy habitats for birds and people.
You can read the guide online or download a full-color PDF document.

The habitat guide was prepared by Clark Condon with support from the Garden Club of Houston.

The Natives Nursery at Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary was expanded in a project that had many stages from January-October 2017.

Mary Anne Weber was featured in a KPRC TV (NBC affiliate on Channel 2) news story about the annual gathering of grackles in Houston area malls, especially at the Container Store near the Galleria. This video is from 2014 but it is worth revisiting because it has an excellent explanation of the phenomenon.

There is a lot of discussion about urban development in our region these days. Birds matter. Thanks to the Kinder Institute for Urban Research and its Urban Edge article for helping us spread the word. Read the Rice blog posting where Sarah Flournoy and Richard Gibbons are quoted.

Flo Hannah, Houston Audubon’s native plant expert, is being honored by the prairie conservation community on Wednesday, November 29, 2017. The award will be given as part of the Prairie Stampede Celebration and Holiday Dinner hosted by the Coastal Prairie Partnership and the Houston Chapter of the Natives Prairie Association of Texas. Flo will be receiving the career achievement award.

An Osprey was sighed at Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary on November 20 by Mike Powers.

This weekend (Saturday, November 18, 2017) was Dillon Jones’ first official start to his Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary Herpetology (Reptile & Amphibian) Survey Project.

The Audubon Docent Guild has funded a Herpetology research study of the Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary. Dillon Jones, star herpetology student at the Texas A&M Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences Department, will be leading the monitoring efforts of our amphibians and reptiles here this year.

The new Fondren Bridge over Rummel Creek has a structure containing bat houses underneath. The structure was designed by Phil Lindhurst, aka The Bat Man, and could theoretically house up to 2,000 bats. We are hoping to get a colony of bats in the sanctuary to control the insect population.

We released nine captive-raised three-toed box turtles on Saturday, October 21, 2017, at the Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary. A local turtle conservationist had her grandson’s birthday party here, and we incorporated the release of some of her turtles. We’ve released these turtles into areas of the sanctuary that are not too crowded with other turtles’ territories.

Click the link to see photos from the event. The kids were doing the releases. They were taking it so seriously!

High Island is considered by many to be one of the top birding destinations in the world. Even better, this gem is in our own backyard. A huge thank you to Jeff Mills for creating this video and for Steve Smith for narrating.

We are excited about the upcoming Gala on Thursday, October 19, 2017, at the Bayou Club from 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm. We will be dining under the stars on the beautiful patio by the pool. Because we will be outside, we are unable to show this video at the Gala. Please take a few minutes to view all the wonders of High Island.

In 2013 the Board of Directors determined that applying to become an accredited land trust was a strategic investment in the long-term future of the organization. Pursuing accreditation underscores our commitment to excellence, trust, and permanence in conservation. After months of preparation and an extensive evaluation of our organizational systems, policies, and practices, Houston Audubon was awarded accreditation by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.

The Audubon Docent Guild hosted an appreciation lunch for the trail crew at the cabin on Tuesday, October 10, 2017. ADG President Sheryl Marquez and Docent Guild Coordinator Bethany Foshée thanked the hard-working crew members, who have been instrumental in the recent recovery efforts at the Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary after the Hurricane Harvey floods. The crew carries out numerous tasks on the grounds throughout the year, maintaining boardwalks and bridges, trail maintenance, lighting and security improvement, and other tasks too numerous to list. Some of the crew members have been involved for over a decade while the newest volunteer just started last week. There's always a need for additional volunteers, both men and women, who enjoy working outside.

Sarah Flournoy, Program Manager of our Bird-Friendly Communities program, spoke to Fort Bend Lifestyles & Homes magazine about how bird gardening creates beautiful spaces that provide sanctuary for wildlife and for ourselves. Read their extensive article containing Sarah's recommendations for creating a bird-friendly yard.

Morgan Ekblad, Boy Scout Troop 642, led a 6-person team to continue the clean-up at Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary on Saturday, September 30, 2017. This project was the final requirement for Morgan to achieve the Eagle rank. The project was comprised of three sub-projects: adding 60 feet of bamboo to the exterior fence, removing trash and debris from Rummel Creek and mulching trails. Morgan raised money for all the materials used in the project and plans to donate any funds not spent to Houston Audubon. This project furthered our post-Harvey recovery efforts.

Click the link to see more photos of the group at work.

The dynamic duo of Juanita Perkins, Volunteer Coordinator, and Bethany Foshée, Edith Moore Sanctuary Manager, introduced 25 new people to the volunteer program at Houston Audubon at the fall volunteer orientation session held on Saturday, September 30, 2017. Topics included the history of the society and sanctuaries and the many, many areas where volunteers can make valuable contributions.

Click the link to see more photos of the new group.

It was a typical hot steamy fall day on the upper Texas coast on Tuesday, September 26, 2017, but that did not slow our hearty group of bus trippers. We headed to Smith Point from Memorial City Mall under sunny skies anticipating lots of raptors.

Over 100 hard-working volunteers participated in the Hurricane Harvey recovery workday at Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary on Saturday, September 23, 2017.

Jim Blackburn was our featured speaker on Thursday, September 14, 2017, at The MATCH. His presentation was entitled "Climate Change: The Horror and the Hope." Click the link to view a video of his talk. Tim White, our new President, introduced Jim.

The annual Hummingbird Festival at Kleb Woods was held on Saturday, September 9, 2017. Our educators, Mary Anne Weber brought our raptors and put them on display along with an informative presentation. Dawn Monachino brought her guitar and sang some catchy songs.

Click the link to see a full report in a downloadable PDF file.

Jim Blackburn is a member of the Houston Audubon Board of Advisors and our featured speaker later this month. As an environmental attorney, he represented the Sierra Club in a 2011 lawsuit against the construction of the Grand Parkway that alleged continued paving of the Katy Prairie would exacerbate runoff into the Addicks and Barker reservoirs and put the dams at risk. He lost that lawsuit.

Bethany Foshée, Sanctuary Manager, reports that the Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary is slowly drying out post Harvey. We are still very thankful the cabin and offices remained dry during our record-breaking floods.

Richard Gibbons, Conservation Director, reports now that the Texas Coast is transitioning into full recovery mode, we turn to assess our nature sanctuaries. We’ve now had a chance to visit several of the sanctuaries and want to share our assessment.

Mary Anne Weber, Education Director, reports that Sims Bayou Urban Nature Sanctuary fared very well in extreme conditions, and with some elbow grease and a little time it will fully recover.

The cleanup began at Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary as soon as we could get access to the property. We can get to the cabin and office and as far as the bridge over Rummel Creek. The creek bed is flooded up to the level of the bridge. Water is stationary because it is being held by the backup from Buffalo Bayou.

Rigoberto, our tree man, cut up the tree that fell on the fence in the Natives Nursery. We also lost a linden tree beside the parking lot. You can see it got caught in a cherry laurel when it came down.

Some of the hard working people in the photos and around include Bethany Foshée, Nichol Chambers, Chris Evers (Nichol's brother from Austin), Julie Gold, Tom Olson, Elveda. There are many others that I missed seeing.

It's hummingbird migration time!

Kleb Woods Hummingbird Festival: Sep 9, 9AM-3PM. Mary Anne Weber, Education Director, will be there.

Houston Audubon member Ann MacNaughton shared this Facebook post by Mary Martha Motley:

Please put hummingbird feeders out ASAP. As many as you can. The Texas coast is the last stop before making the long journey south across the Gulf. Rockport has been a hummer hub for years and most folks are too consumed with surviving the storm and clean-up to be thinking about feeding those little guys. If we don't put extra feeders out, they won't make it. My sister-in-law said that one flew into their house looking so tired and weathered. They're starving. Help save the hummers from Harvey please.

Agnes Stanley was a longtime volunteer with Houston Audubon's Docent Guild, which develops educational programs at the Edith Moore sanctuary in west Houston. Stanley worked specifically with the Titmouse Club, a program that introduces preschool children to birds and botany to develop their interest in the environment. The link goes to a Houston Chronicle article about Agnes' death.

Houston Audubon Post Hurricane Harvey Update - August 30, 2017. It appears that our urban sanctuaries weathered the storm with damage we feel is reparable with care and hard work.

I wanted to share a few photos from Sims Bayou Urban Nature Center. Nothing that can't be fixed with lots of hard work.

I still need to add the photos that Flavio and Linda took at the height of the storm when the water was at the top of the hill. It has receded greatly when Dawn got over there and today. 

Helen came out today to check things out. We unfortunately had water in the barn and have wet carpeting and wet logs again. You will see some bricks against the barn doors in some photos and those were placed there to divert the usual flooding location and that worked. This time the water came in on the opposite side of the barn.

Photos from this afternoon by one of our brave volunteers. Cabin is still dry, thankfully built on high ground, viewable via our bird feeder camera. Stay safe everyone.

A Two-winged Silverbell was selected to commemorate Jeanelle's long-term volunteering at the Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary. Marvin and Betsy Mulligan, the Waldrop Family and Alan Reid

Houston Audubon hosted a great eclipse watch party at Archbishop Fiorenza Park on Monday. Read the story and see the photos.

It is with great sadness that Houston Audubon mourns the passing of Aaron Stoley on Wednesday, August 16, 2017.

Members of the Galveston community gathered for a half-day workshop to learn more about the devastating bird deaths that occurred on May 4, 2017. Participants left with a deeper understanding of bird collisions as well as specific actions available to prevent these types of deaths from occurring again.

The results are in for the 2017 Audubon Photography Awards. Image number 75 of a Roseate Spoonbill was taken at Smith Oaks Rookery. Photographer was Dawn Wilson, a pro photographer. Image was taken in early morning light. This link will take you to number 75.

I encourage you to look at all of the top 100 images. They are all amazing photos. I was glad to see that many of the images were taken by amateurs. There are other images in the top 100 taken at various locations in Texas including the Santa Clara Ranch and the Laguna Seca Ranch.

  • Each page in the Newsroom contains up to 50 articles. Older articles are archived. See the list of archives at the bottom of the current Newsroom.