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Mary Anne Weber, Education Director, gave a presentation to the Boulevard Oaks community that was reported in the Village News, April 17, 2018. The presentation was coordinated by Doris Heard, Board Member. Mary Anne was accompanied by Simon, the Great Horned Owl.
The Broadacres subdivision within Boulevard Oaks has a stand of 80-year old live oak trees which contains a rookery with 120 nests for Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, and Black-crowned Night Herons. The purpose of Mary Anne's talk was to teach the residents more about the birds that are nesting there.
Click the link to read the article in Village News.
Earth Day 2018 is the perfect opportunity to get involved with your community and take care of our Earth. Let’s talk about some ways to go green for Earth Day 2018.
Twenty-three hard-working volunteers from BP Energy spent the afternoon of Friday, April 13, 2018, at Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary. Kim, a leader in the Natural Gas Liquids group, explained this was part team-building plus giving back to the community. BP allocates 2 days/year for employees to devote to community service.
David Harris shot a high-definition video of nesting birds at the Smith Oaks Rookery on Wednesday, April 11, 2018. He interviewed Winnie Burkett, former Executive Director and Sanctuaries Manager, Houston Audubon, to get an in-depth story of how the birds use the Rookery island and co-exist with alligators in the surrounding water. The video was taken from the Rookery rental platform and is 15-minutes long, showing the birds close-up. Winnie's narrative is packed with information.
David Harris runs the Coastal Outdoors Group and also the Bolivar Peninsula Texas website.
The video is on the Bolivar Peninsula, Texas Facebook page and requires you to use your Facebook account to see it.
The Senior Bus Trip on April 9, 2018, went to the Houston Audubon sanctuaries on High Island and other stops on Bolivar Peninsula.
Mega101 Mi Comunidad entrevista a Houston Audubon Domingo, 25 de marzo de 2018. Diego Ramos, presentador de Mega101 Mi Comunidad, un programa de radio en español, entrevista al miembro de la Junta de Houston Audubon, Andy Lopez. (10 minutos)
Mega101 My Community interview with Houston Audubon, Sunday, March 25, 2018. Diego Ramos, host of Mega101 My Community, a Spanish radio program, interviewed a member of Houston Audubon's Board of Directors, Andy Lopez. (10 minutes)
Please join us in welcoming Zineera Seth to the Houston Audubon team as our new Development Events Manager. Zineera is responsible for leading and implementing mission-based events that generate revenue. She will oversee all aspects of fundraising events to ensure that the organization’s mission and work is elevated.
Those wonderful Tropical Birding guides have returned for what will be their last spring leading free bird walks in Houston Audubon sanctuaries. This is their 11th year of introducing High Island visitors to the great experience of taking guided bird walks, and we have been lucky to have them. They are spreading out to other spring birding hot spots to introduce more birders to guided bird walks.
Here is a link to the April 2018 edition of our monthly E-News in case you missed it. You can subscribe by filling in the form at the bottom of this page.
Eight hard workers showed up on Friday, March 30, 2018, for the North Jetty cleanup. We picked up 39 bags of trash which included all we could get on the jetty and the beaches adjacent to the jetty. There was a lot more trash there last year when we picked up over 80 bags and didn’t even finish the jetty.
Houston Audubon and Victor Emanuel Nature Tours (VENT) are hosting Jonathan Meyrav. Jonathan is from Israel and will be discussing the amazing diversity of birds there.
Houston Audubon strongly recommends buildings more than two stories high turn LIGHTS OUT tonight and tomorrow night (Wednesday and Thursday, March 28 and March 29). We recommend buildings more than two stories high turn off unnecessary lighting during the entire migration period, March 15 to May 15.
The Nominating Committee of the Houston Audubon Board of Directors recommends the following slate for election to the Board of Directors. Elections will be conducted at the membership meeting on May 10, 2018. Also, according to the By-Laws, nominations will be accepted from the floor.
Imperiled Least Terns at the Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary just got a helping hand from the Boy Scouts. On March 17, a team of Scouts led by Eagle Scout candidate J.P. Pinteralli, headed to the sanctuary with some 750 lbs. of tools and fencing equipment in tow. Working alongside field staff from Houston Audubon and American Bird Conservancy (ABC), they installed electric fencing at a key nesting area to keep predators away from the terns and their chicks.
Here are the updates from the past 2 herpetology surveys. Herps are coming out more frequently and we are finding more individuals. The past surveys have still seen cold nights, but I'm hopeful for the warmer weather in the coming weeks. A couple of new species for the survey, Banded Water Snake - N. fasciata (a very large one that got away) and Narrow Mouth Toad - G. carolinensis, were found on the 24th.
A great turnout enjoyed wonderful spring weather for the Birdathon Workshop on the outdoor deck of the cabin at Edith L. Moore Nature Santuary on Sunday, March 11, 2018. That shows good enthusiasm for our annual birding competition.
Lots of new things under development at High Island. Two new rookery islands, one at Claybottom Pond and one at Smith Pond, new boardwalks - roughly connecting Winnie Street entrance trails to Smith Pond and to Claybottom Pond. And Smith Oaks is full of great egrets with spoonbills looking for places to build nests.
Old Mexico Road entrance is still closed due to construction. It ought to open in a week or two. Use Winnie Street entrance if you go out now.
Click the link to see the photo gallery. One telephoto shows a great egret on the nest with a big blue egg. That nest is at the north end of Claybottom Pond and can be seen from the last platform.
Smith Pond Island tree planting crew and view from the south. One is showing the new island at Claybottom Pond. That picture was taken from the first observation deck. Second picture taken from the last deck. Some nests have blue eggs already. I counted about 15-20 visitors while I was there from around 10:30 am to 2:30 pm on March 9.
Mary Anne Weber, Education Director, appeared on Fox 26 News hosted by Jose Grinan on March 7, 2018. She was accompanied by Skeeter, a Mississippi Kite, one of our education raptors. The topic was "Why Do Birds Matter?" which was a recent article in National Geographic magazine.
This link goes to a really cool web camera that is positioned in a Peregrine Falcon nest at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas. There are a lot of interesting facts about Peregrine Falcons on the web page. The live camera is focused right into the nest, so you have to be patient and lucky to visit the page when the falcon is in the nest. The video is very sharp, so it is worth re-visiting to catch the bird live.
Anna Vallery is our new Conservation Specialist at Houston Audubon. She will be working as the sanctuary manager for the two northern sanctuaries, Winters Bayou and Damuth. She will also be working in the Natives Nursery at Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary and closely with the Bird Friendly Communities program.
Birdathon is a team-birding fundraising event that started back in 1981 and continues to grow each year. Teams are typically made of (4) participants. Teams compete to count as many bird species as possible in a 24-hour period and raise money much like a marathon. Birdathon includes a spring kick-off party and concludes with an awards celebration.
We are really looking to grow Birdathon this year and hoping to get new teams involved. We would love for you to get together with 3 or more of your friends and join Birdathon as a team and go birding together. It is so much fun, and I know you will love it!
All that is required is to go to the Birdathon website and sign up as a team, pick a day to all go birding together, and report how many different bird species you identified in your consecutive 24 hours of birding.
Helen Drummond, Executive Director, was interviewed by Michael Bybee of the Houston Newsmakers Team for the Comcast Newsmakers video cast on Wednesday, January 10, 2018. The video was just made available. This short 4.5 minute video is action-packed with statistics about the numbers of birds that transit the Houston area during the two yearly migration seasons and the importance of our sanctuaries to the migration process.
Click the link to view the video.
The Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2017. It was designated by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) as a site of international importance in 1992, and it has been owned and managed by Houston Audubon since then.
The link takes you to a very well-written history and description of the sanctuary. There are timely quotes from Richard Gibbons, Conservation Director, and Pete Deichmann, Sanctuaries Manager. This article is definitely worth reading.
Photo by Meredith G Morehouse
A job description has been posted for Development Event Manager. This position fills the job held by Nichol Chambers who is leaving to join the staff at Rice University.
Here are the results from the latest Herp Survey at Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary.
The highlights of activity statistics for the 2017 fiscal year (July 2016-June 2017) show some impressive numbers. Click the link to see a larger image.
Volunteers: 743 people, 14,032 hours worked.
Natives Nursery: 4,500 plants sold.
Conservation: 300+ bird species documented in our sanctuaries.
Sanctuary Visitors: 28,300 people, 48 states of the USA, 18 countries.
Urban Bird Surveys: 8 locations, 85 surveys.
Education: 979 events, 47,175 children & adults attended.
The weather was great on February 17, 2018, at the Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary. Every year we get together to honor and thank our volunteers. This occasion also marked the presentation of the Laura Singleton Exceptional Volunteer Award.
Updates from the herpetology study at Edith L. Moore on the weekend of February 3, 2018.
Read the adventurous report of the Senior Bus Trip to Rio Villa Nature Trail, Sheldon Lake State Park, with a final stop to see Bald Eagles nesting.
A new partnership in High Island will make it easier to visit both Texas Ornithological Society (TOS) and Houston Audubon sanctuaries. Purchase of a day pass or annual patch from Houston Audubon will provide passage to the ever-popular Hooks Woods on First Street, High Island. The partnership will eliminate confusion for visitors attempting to navigate two fee-areas owned by different organizations. Maintenance of Hooks Woods will be provided by Houston Audubon staff and volunteers from both organizations.
The easiest way to maximize your precious birding time in High Island is a one-and-done purchase of the annual High Island Sanctuaries patch, which will provide entry to all fee areas for the entire year.
Shelia Hargis, TOS Board President had this to say: “TOS is very excited about our new partnership with Houston Audubon. We view this initial arrangement as benefiting both organizations and making birding in High Island more streamlined for all who visit. For TOS, this arrangement also gives us access to Houston Audubon's expertise in sanctuary management. We want to manage our sanctuaries in the best way possible, and Houston Audubon has the knowledge and skills to help us do that. Lastly, partnerships allow participating organizations to do more together than they could do individually. Hopefully this will be just the beginning of a strong and productive partnership between TOS and Houston Audubon.”
You can order your annual High Island patch from the Houston Audubon website (click the link for this article), or buy it at Boy Scout Woods Bird Sanctuary kiosk in High Island between March 23rd and May 6th, 2018.
Super Bird 52 was a great success! The playing field was Archbishop Fiorenza Park Phase 2 and the players were eager to hit the trails and claim the victory. The Superb Owls, winners from last year, were again battling the Gridiron Goatsuckers. The Goatsuckers got off to a fast lead and had 32 species in under 45 minutes. The Owls were hooting it up on the other side of the park and trying to catch up.
As the two teams passed each other at halftime, both kept quiet about upcoming plays and strategies. It was an intense competition. The weather was cooperating and barely misted on both teams during the 2-hour game. At exactly 120 minutes, the Goatsuckers submitted their list to eBird and awaited the last hoot from the Owls, hoping victory would be theirs. The Owls however had a Le Conte's Sparrow and Wilson's Snipe under their feathers and they pulled ahead for the win. The Goatsuckers will reflock and make plans for Super Bird 53.
Join us next year for another epic battle! February 3, 2019!
On January 12th, Ms. Mary Anne Weber and Ms. Dawn Monachino of the Houston Audubon Society came to speak about special characteristics of Texas raptors. They began by introducing John James Audubon (1785-1851), who drew many birds for the reference of future generations in the spirit of protecting bird species and maintaining peaceful coexistence between humans and the environment. Ms. Weber said bird-watching is the second largest hobby for humans (second only to gardening). Houston is a prime location for bird-watching because migratory birds travel through Texas.
She brought three different raptors with her: Amelia the Purple Martin, Skeeter the Mississippi Kite, and Juliet the Barred Owl. She described their various habits and displayed six other specimens for everyone to study: Cooper’s hawk, Mississippi kite, American kestrel, barred owl, red shoulder, and peregrine falcon. We learned a lot about raptors, and the children especially enjoyed them.
Article written by Lain Wu, Taiwanese Heritage Society of Houston
Tributes are being collected from Flo's co-workers and friends. They provide a moving testimonial to Flo's achievements.
Our monthly email newsletter for February 2018 was sent out today. Click this link to view it online if you did not receive a copy.
Read about a new bird survey at the Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve in the northwest quadrant of Houston.
A new website has been created for the Coastal Texas Study. This is a joint effort by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in partnership with the Texas General Land Office.
This provides a way to keep up to date on issues discussed in our conservation article on the Galveston Bay Coastal Spine.
Simon, the Great Horned Owl, was rescued from the side of a road near Rozet, Wyoming on November 1, 2016. Read the story of how Simon came to Houston Audubon to join our group of education raptors.
Saturday, January 27, 2018 was a big day at Edith Moore. The early morning bird walk led by Paul Fagala, Wild Birds Unlimited, saw a barred owl very clearly.
Over 60 volunteers, more than normal, braved the damp conditions to participate on the workday. These are people that love the sanctuary and want to give back. They split up into teams to do a variety of much needed tasks. One team removed over 10 bags of trash from the boom in Rummel Creek. You can see before and after photos in the gallery. Other people on the team worked on the banks downstream to painstakingly remove trash including some remants left over from Hurricane Harvey.
Another team demolished the Midway Crossing boardwalk which was damaged by Harvey and declared beyond repair. A big team spread out on the trails, adding caliche gravel at the entrance to bridges plus sweeping and clearing the pathways. Some people tended the beds around the cabin removing the winter leaves and cleaning the homing pigeon roost.
There is work remaining to finish repairing damaged bridges, but this Saturday's crew accomplished a major amount of clean-up. Thanks to all in attendance.
Click on the link to view a photo gallery showing the barred owl and our industrious volunteers.
The Katy News published an article about a library program that will be presented by Mary Anne Weber on January 29, 2018.
Mary Anne Weber will talk about the amazing array of birds that can be found in the Houston metropolitan area. Learn about both the better- and lesser-known birds, their migration patterns, and how to identify and classify them. Special focus will be on Purple Martins and local raptors. Weber will bring an assortment of live birds to show during her presentation.
The Purple Martins are coming to Houston and you can watch a short 2-minute video with some very interesting facts produced by the news team at TV station CW39 featuring Mary Anne Weber.
There is also an article in Houstonia magazine entitled Winter is for the Birds. Specifically, Purple Martins.
Read about our newest bird survey starting February 1, 2018 at the Houston Botanic Garden.
Edith Moore Herp Survey
Here's the counts from this past weekend survey on Saturday, January 20, 2018.
Scincella lateralis (Little Brown Skink)
Plestiodon fasciatus x2 (Common five Lined Skink)
Euletherodactylus cystignathoides (Rio Grande Chirping Frog)
Tadpole (Probably bullfrog)
Lithobates catesbeiana x4 (Bullfrog)
Dillon will be leading an informative presentation for us on his Edith L Moore Nature Sanctuary Herp Monitoring (amphibians & reptiles) Research and on Texas Herps in general on February 17, 2018 10am-12pm.
Flo Hannah, Houston Audubon Conservation Specialist, passed away on January 10, 2018. Flo will be missed beyond measure and remembered always for her steadfast dedication to the plants, birds, and people of the Texas Gulf Coast. Flo was our dear friend and colleague. She was a champion of endangered coastal prairies and a remarkable advocate for nature. She was loved and respected by the many people she encountered. Houston Audubon feels a significant loss and will miss Flo’s passion, expertise, and sweet humor. We plan to honor Flo and her remarkable contributions to Houston Audubon and to our community, and we will share details when we have them. May we all carry her prairie fire forward.
Houston Audubon’s Senior Bus Trip for the month of January 2018 took the hearty group to two new parks in Harris County.
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.