Bird City Texas Certifies Four Inaugural Communities

Communities Rise to the Challenge of Conservation

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Audubon Texas, partners in the Bird City Texas Initiative, are proud to announce that four communities have received certification during the inaugural application cycle. BastropDallasHouston and Port Aransas have been recognized as the leaders in community action and bird conservation. These certified communities took action in three categories: community engagement, habitat management, and threat reduction for birds. The Bird City Texas certification lasts through 2022.
“We’re excited to join Audubon Texas in recognizing these four communities for the incredible work that they’ve done for birds, wildlife habitat, and connecting people with nature,” said TPWD Urban Wildlife Program Leader Richard Heilbrun. “It’s not easy to become a Bird City Texas community; it takes dedication and vision. We are confident that their accomplishments will lead to stronger, more resilient communities for people and birds.”
After the Bastrop County Complex Fire of 2011, Bastrop has been committed to restoring their rare Lost Pines ecosystem for birds and other wildlife that dependent on it. They have also chosen to address light pollution by being a Dark Sky Community, specifically choosing not to light a prominent bridge in town for the benefit of migratory birds.
Dallas has restored hundreds of acres of native prairies throughout their city, benefitting many grassland bird species. They have worked to reduce to the amount of pesticides used to remove invasive plants during these restoration projects. They’ve also created an innovative outreach program that provides birding backpacks for urban youth.
Houston has done a fantastic job of creating nature centers throughout their entire community, providing outreach and bird-friendly resources for a wide range of demographics. This includes providing substantial resources about bird-friendly buildings. They have also promised to increase the number of prairies that are restored within their city limits.
After Hurricane Harvey, Port Aransas committed significant resources to restore coastal ecosystems and fix damages to birding amenities caused by the storm. They clearly understand the link between bird habitat and eco-tourism, and have a brilliant nature preserve system that is managed to provide excellent bird habitat for coastal and migratory birds. They are continuing to acquire surrounding land to buffer these preserves.
By undertaking these actions, these newly certified communities help their residents and their birdlife. Bird City Texas communities can use their bird-friendly designation to attract more of Texas’ 2.2 million birdwatchers who are major drivers in the state’s $1.8 billion wildlife-viewing industry.
In the coming months, certified communities will host a variety of events to continue promoting the importance of birds and healthy habitats. We encourage interested participants to visit each community’s Chamber of Commerce website, as well as TPWD and Audubon Texas’ websites for updates.
For communities interested in applying for certification, the 2020 Bird City Texas application cycle begins in early summer. Please visit for more information on how to apply for certification.
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Be Our Valentine!

Celebrate Valentine’s Day at a Texas State Park

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, Texans are making plans with the special people in their lives. Bring your best two- or four-legged pal to a Texas State Park and experience Valentine’s Day in the outdoors.
Texas State Parks are an ideal place to spend the day with the people closest to you. A few ideas for anyone looking for Valentine’s Day unique plans are:
  • Paddle Date: Many Texas State Parks have pedal boats, one- and two-person kayaks, and canoes available for rent so visitors can have a romantic date on the water. Exploring the park on the water offers a different perspective on even the most popular parks. A list of parks with rentable equipment is available on the boating and paddling page on Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s website. 
  • Peak Proposal Goals: Pop the question overlooking some of the most idyllic landscapes in Texas. Parks like Davis Mountains State ParkOld Tunnel State ParkFranklin Mountains State ParkLake Mineral Wells State Park and South Llano River State Park offer unique scenic overlooks, ideal settings for proposals with an outdoorsy twist. 
  • Fall in Love at a Waterfall: Take your valentine on a short walk to a waterfall at a Texas State Park. At Pedernales Falls State Park, visitors can venture on a short half-mile trail through the hill country to Twin Falls or take a separate trail to see the park’s namesake falls up close. For a more adventurous experience, the trek to the 70-foot spring-fed Gorman Falls at Colorado Bend State Park offers a 3-mile round trip hike over rocky terrain. 
  • Hook, Line and Sinker:  Grab a tackle box instead of a chocolate box and go fishing at a state park this Valentine’s Day. Park visitors don’t need a fishing license at a Texas State Park and some parks will even loan you equipment so you can learn to fish without making the investment. End your fishing date by preparing a romantic fish filet dinner by candlelight at a picnic area. Learn how to fillet a fish and choose a recipe you can prepare together. Find a list of parks where you can fish on the TPWD website. 
  • Sunset Walks with Your Sweetie: Walk hand-in-hand with your valentine on a sunset hike. With miles of trails available at parks around Texas, there are different types of paths for people of all skill levels. Some parks are also hosting guided evening hikes including the Valentine’s sunset hike at Dinosaur Valley State Park and a twilight hike at Inks Lake State Park.
  • Attend a Valentine’s Day Event: Parks around Texas are hosting a variety of Valentine’s events including a Galentine’s Day hike at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, a pine cone bird feeder making class at Goliad State Park and a Taco’bout Love taco-making event at Cooper Lake State Park- Doctor’s Creek Unit.
Find a full list of park events on the calendar page on the TPWD website.
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Ocelots Using Wildlife Crossing

Threatened cat spotted crossing under Laguna Atascosa road

You may recall our October 2018 article on wildlife crossings, which featured the plight of ocelots in South Texas. In a 10-month span, seven ocelots were killed by cars there, a statistic made even more significant when you discover there are only 80-100 ocelots left in Texas.

In response, the Texas Department of Transportation agreed to build 15 wildlife underpasses around Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. The crossings on Texas Highway 100 were completed in 2017; construction on several others around the refuge wrapped up last July. The crossings look like basic concrete culverts under the road. 

TxDOT also installed fencing, a key component of effective wildlife crossings, along Highway 100 to funnel animals toward the crossings.

The question remained: Would ocelots use them?

And now we hear that there’s success, as proved by photo evidence on Jan. 25, when an ocelot using one of those crossings was caught on camera.

According to a press release, the 5-year-old male, known as OM 331, used the crossing under FM 106 to cross from north to south.

Other animals, such as armadillos, javelinas, bobcats, long-tailed weasels, alligators and tortoises have used the underpass, however, officials said in the release this is the first documented use of an ocelot using an underpass crossing in the United States.

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