As we celebrate this delightful time of year, gather with family, join friends for winter birding, and delight in festivities of the season, Houston Audubon is remembering with gratitude the long-standing commitment and support that has fueled our 53-year legacy of accomplishments. Year after year, we have built on the incredible work of those that came before us and we continue to grow our impact with steadfast determination to ensure a future where nature abounds and birds thrive in our region. While the challenges are many, Houston Audubon remains a driving force for avian conservation, and your support makes all the difference. We hope you enjoy reading this issue of the Owl Post. It highlights achievements in the FY2022 annual report, features new items like our Holiday Raptor Fest and the Birdy Holiday Gift Guide as well as traditional winter activities like the Christmas Bird Counts, and it provides a glimpse of what’s been happening in our sanctuaries. Happy holidays to all!
- Helen E. Drummond, Executive Director
Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary
It’s really fall even though we are having some 80 degree days! The cold weather set the trees ablaze with color and the rain has spurred a flush of mushroom growth. Our winter resident birds are here, so listen and look for species like Pine Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets to increase in number. Turtles and frogs are laying low in the mud to keep warm and cozy.
As a reminder, 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
Fall programs are in full swing at the Raptor and Education Center, with the holiday edition of Raptor Fest coming up this weekend! We've also welcomed our newest raptor, Hamilton, a second-year female Broad-winged Hawk. We anxiously await the arrival of Riviera, a first-year Swallow-tailed Kite with a wing injury, who will be a companion to Skeeter, our Mississippi Kite.
We are open for visitors and holiday shopping at the Nature Store on December 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30 from 10 am-4 pm. Call (713) 640-2407 to make an appointment outside these hours. Admission is free for Houston Audubon members and $5/person for non-members.
Join us at our Holiday Raptor Fest! ✨
December 3, 2022 from 3-7 PM
Raptor and Education Center
Celebrate the holidays with our feathered friends at Raptor Fest! This new event at the Raptor and Education Center gives visitors an opportunity to meet our education ambassador birds up close and learn about their conservation in the wild. Enjoy holiday crafts, games, and food, and take a festive photo with our raptors at the Hoot Shoot!
On the Coast - High Island and Bolivar Flats
The momentum of the restoration season hit its stride on the coast in November. We were joined by a dozen volunteers at Horseshoe Marsh on November 5th and managed to plant approximately 300 grasses and forbs. We will continue to work on developing the infrastructure at this sanctuary this month. Once completed, the trails, boardwalks, and plantings should provide an exciting new birding site for those exploring the Bolivar Peninsula during spring migration. We will have another volunteer planting day at this sanctuary in February 2023.
The first significant cold front of the fall/winter made it to High Island the night before our monthly workday. Our stalwart group of volunteers braved the cold temperatures and wind but were rewarded with few mosquitos and flocks of notable species for the immediate coast such as Cedar Waxwings, American Goldfinches, and American Robins. We’d also like to thank Valero for sponsoring a workday in November and providing 20 staff members to assist with the removal of invasive Chinese Tallow and Deep-root Sedge from the east prairie of Smith Oaks sanctuary. November also saw the inaugural volunteer workday at the Entergy Coastal Natives Nursery in High Island. This was a huge step for creating the momentum needed to keep the nursery in tip-top shape. The prolonged summer/fall dry spell was also broken as we received measurable rainfall on 10 days this month. It made removing invasive species from the sanctuaries a challenge, but we are grateful for the precipitation.
Notable bird sightings for the month included a California Gull at Bolivar Flats in mid-November that was relocated a few days later across the ship channel at East Beach (where it was seen for several days). A rather shy Great Kiskadee at Smith Oaks in the Southwest corner of Grackle Pond (near marker 34) was a treat in late November. An influx of Golden-crowned Kinglets, Brown Creepers, and Winter Wrens that began in late October continued into November. Wintering numbers of these species are quite variable in High Island, especially in recent years.
Your year end donation will help us protect more critical habitat, provide more native plants to urban communities, make our community science efforts more robust, and reach more people with nature-based education.
Give the birds a holiday gift by shopping our Amazon wish list! Your donation will help our staff and volunteers carry out their critical work. Be sure to shop AmazonSmile and select Houston Audubon as your charity of choice.
Support the care of our education ambassador birds with an honorary adoption - perfect as a gift to yourself or the raptor lover in your life. Proceeds go towards housing, food, and vet care.
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