One of the Austin area’s most famous residents has returned home. The golden-cheeked warbler is now back in the Texas Hill Country after a winter spent in southern Mexico and Central America.
What’s so special about this little bird?
Well for starters, it’s very rare. As Austin Water explains, of the nearly 360 birds that breed in Texas, the golden-cheeked warbler is the only one that nests exclusively in the state (and primarily in the Hill Country). That means that we as a region are responsible for its protection, especially as its habitat continues to be threatened by massive population growth and development pressures.
Recognizing the threat to this little bird’s habitat, years ago city and county officials got together and created the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan, the first major urban habitat plan in the country. Along with protecting the golden-cheeked warbler, the plan sought to preserve the habitat of seven other local endangered species (including the black-capped vireo) while still allowing for development in other parts of Travis County.
So where can you spot the golden-cheeked warbler?
- Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge
- Baker Sanctuary
- Pedernales Falls State Park
- Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center
- Bull Creek Nature Preserve
New to birding? Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center is hosting several guided hikes throughout the spring. You can check out a full list of dates here. They’re also hosting a “Birds and Brew” social event and golden-cheeked warbler listening session on Saturday, May 5th from 5:30pm to 8pm. You can reserve your ticket here>>