You’ve come to the right place if you want to be in the know about what’s going on in our organization. Be sure to check back regularly to get our latest news updates.
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.
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 email@example.com.
Date: Saturday, February 3, 2018
Time: 10 AM - Noon
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.
Our monthly email newsletter for December 2017 was sent out today. Click this link to view it online if you did not receive a copy.
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!
Our monthly email newsletter for November 2017 was sent out today. Click this link to view it online if you did not receive a copy.
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.