March is greeted with a flurry of news. Mostly exciting news, but one development is a call to action. Good news first! After a rigorous verification process by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, Houston Audubon’s accreditation as a land trust is renewed. Accreditation is a mark of distinction, and we are proud to have earned this recognition once again. This renewal underscores our commitment to lasting stewardship of the sanctuaries we own and manage for birds, healthy habitat and thriving wildlife. Lasting stewardship requires diligence, including fighting against actions that could negatively impact our sanctuaries. We are fighting one such threat today—the Bolivar Beach Housing Development. See how you can help protect our globally important Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary in this issue.
We are also thrilled to introduce a new bird survey at Jesse H. Jones Park and Nature Center, making it our 19th bird survey location. Bird surveys remain great resources that help build our data and information systems, and we are appreciative of the partners and community of volunteers that continue to enhance our work and expand our capacity. We are also excited to introduce a new logo for our spring fundraiser, Birdathon, featuring a colorful array of migratory birds by Advisory Board Member Cin-Ty Lee. Here's to another spring of welcoming birds and people to our sanctuaries, inspiring community action towards conservation, and fostering a direct connection with nature through Houston Audubon programs.
- Helen E. Drummond, Executive Director
We're calling all Texans to go Lights Out to protect migratory birds during spring migration. Turn off or dim non-essential lighting outside and inside from 11 pm to 6 am during March 1 - June 15. With the simple flip of a switch, each of us can do our part to protect millions of migrating birds soaring across our Lone Star skies.
Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary
Look up! As you walk through the sanctuary this month, look up for birds and copious flowers of the Redbud, Mexican Plum, Crossvine, and Cherry Laurel. But don’t forget to watch your feet for the lizards, snakes, frogs, and cool bugs also coming out in the spring weather. And if you happen to see a piece of trash, we appreciate your help picking it up to keep the sanctuary clean and safe for wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for other changes at the sanctuary!
Edith L. Moore Sanctuary is open daily but certain amenities such as the cabin and restrooms are not available on holidays and Sundays. We welcome wildlife photographers and families taking pictures of each other, but professional photo sessions do require a permit. Be sure to stop by and enjoy the trails!
Raptor and Education Center
The Raptor and Education Center is ready for spring and migrating birds! Be sure to visit to see our education raptors, the wild birds that frequent the sanctuary, and the spring blooms that are popping up. Carolina Cherry Laurel and Mexican Plum are in full bloom and the forest is dotted with spring daffodils. For a guided visit, check out a Behind-the-Scenes Tour. We also offer other fun programs like Raptor Photo Shoots, Art with Raptors, and the upcoming Raptor Fest on April 8!
The Raptor and Education Center is open for visitors on Fridays from 10 AM - 4 PM and by appointment. Call (713) 640-2407 to make an appointment outside these hours. Admission is free for Houston Audubon members and $5/person for non-members.
On the Coast - High Island and Bolivar Flats
With spring just around the corner, our coastal staff have been busy preparing the sanctuaries for the busiest (and most exciting) time of the year! Thank you to the volunteers who helped us on February’s High Island workday clearing privet and enhancing our trails. It will be much easier to see the myriad of migrants that use the understory/forest floor in Gast Red Bay Sanctuary this spring now that the privet within the inner loop of trails has been cleared! Our final workday before spring migration season will be Saturday, March 11.
During our February Coastal Nursery workday, we were able to bump-up over 100 Cherokee Sedge, adding to the growing inventory at the nursery. Many of these were planted at our Horseshoe Marsh Sanctuary in Port Bolivar, and the remainder will be planted at our new Morse Field Station in March.
The final section of trail at Horseshoe Marsh has been cut with the help of Texas Conservation Corps. One hundred native trees and shrubs were also planted at this site with the help of volunteers at the end of February. With this additional infrastructure and habitat enhancements, we’re excited for folks to explore this sanctuary in the spring. During our Frenchtown Road clean-up (adjacent Horseshoe Marsh), volunteers removed 733 pound of trash! Houston Audubon collaborated with SPLASh Texas and Keep Texas Beautiful to conduct this clean-up.
Our first spring migrants of the year appeared at High Island on February 9th, a trio of Purple Martins! We’re anxiously awaiting the deluge of migrants that should begin arriving by mid-March. At Smith Oaks, the Neotropic Cormorants and Great Egrets have begun displaying and nest-building right on time for the nesting season. We’ve also observed a dramatic increase in Roseate Spoonbills in the last week, so we may see them nest a little earlier than usual this year. We hope to see you at High Island this spring!
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