AUGUST 6, 2020: ONLINE PRESENTATION ABOUT PHIL HARDBERGER PARK & BIRDS

San Antonio Audubon Society featured member Patsy Kuentz, an avid birder and Alamo Area Master Naturalist, in an online program August 6. Patsy discussed Phil Hardberger Park, a 311-acre natural treasure in the city's rapidly developing North Central area, and the bird species that have been found in various locations within the park. Click here to view a recording of the presentation. You will need to type in the password D@p^*0Dv.

Red-shouldered Hawk by Patsy Kuentz
Sage Thrasher by Lora Reynolds
Eastern Phoebe by Patsy Kuentz

JULY 21, 2020: CIBOLO NATURE CENTER & FARM, BOERNE, TEXAS

Just 45 minutes northwest of San Antonio, Cibolo Nature Center is a 100-acre wildlife preserve with riparian, prairie and marsh habitats, allowing for diverse bird species. Summer Tanagers, American Robins, White-eyed Vireos, Western Kingbirds, Northern Parulas and Green Herons are around during the summer. In winter, it's a great place to find native sparrows.

Cypress Creek
Western Kingbird
Cypress Creek
Green Heron at Wrede Marsh
Cypress Tree Roots
American Robin

JUNE 30, 2020: CANYON LAKE, TEXAS

Canyon Overlook Park is on the eastern edge of Canyon Lake, at the lake's dam. The park is about an hour northeast of San Antonio. At the end of August 2012, birders began reporting a Brown Booby sitting on a concrete structure near the dam. The story goes that an employee who works at the lake asked what everyone was looking at when hordes of birders descended on the lake to see the bird. When he was shown the bird of interest, he said the bird had been there all summer. The Brown Booby is normally found off the coast of southern Florida and is sometimes seen off the coast of Texas. Now, in the summer of 2020, the booby is back at Canyon Lake! Since the Brown Booby can live to be 16 years old, it's quite likely that this is the same individual who enjoyed the summer of 2012 at Canyon Lake. Birders can find other interesting species around the dam, too, including Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and Eastern Bluebirds. The Guadalupe South River Natural Trail across the road from the dam is also a good birding location and is where the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron photo was taken.

Brown Booby, 9/1/2012
Brown Booby, 6/30/2020
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

APRIL 2, 2020: SPRING MIGRATION IN SAN ANTONIO

Backyard birding in San Antonio during spring migration is always interesting because you never know what you'll see. On a cloudy, drizzly day, several warbler species appeared, the wrens were singing, a Northern Cardinal was bathing, Chipping Sparrows were foraging, and a Cooper's Hawk dropped by for a brief visit.

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Cooper's Hawk
Chipping Sparrow
Bewick's Wren
Northern Cardinal

FEB-MARCH 2020 WINTER BIRDING AT SAN ANTONIO BOTANICAL GARDEN

The presence of a Red-naped Sapsucker drew big crowds at the San Antonio Botanical Garden for several weeks from late January to mid-February. The young female bird was first identified on January 25 and last seen on February 22. She was frequently seen on a Thornless Mesquite tree, which is the same tree a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker later visited for many days.

Female Red-naped Sapsucker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

JANUARY 4, 2020: ACEQUIA PARK

Birding along the San Antonio River at Mission Espada, 18 members of a San Antonio Audubon field trip saw more than 50 species during a very chilly winter morning. Highlights were Ferruginous Hawk, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Pied-billed Grebe, Least Grebe, and a Little Blue Heron foraging with a Snowy Egret.

Lilttle Blue Heron
Snowy Egret
Least Grebe

JANUARY 1, 2020

Happy New Year! And the bird counting begins anew for 2020. One lone pecan remains on a tree in the yard, which made a female Ladder-backed Woodpecker happy as she gripped the pecan with her feet and drummed on the shell to retrieve a snack.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker with a pecan.

DECEMBER 2019: WINTER WARBLERS IN SAN ANTONIO

Three warbler species have made backyard appearances this winter—Orange-crowned, Pine and Yellow-rumped—and all three are found in local parks and natural areas. Black-and-white Warblers also winter in San Antonio.

Pine Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler

SEPTEMBER 17, 2019: SAN ANTONIO BOTANICAL GARDEN

Most birders hear White-eyed Vireos long before they see them. Today at the botanical garden, however, these vireos were singing, calling and posing! Other birds seen today included Black-and-white Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, Red-shouldered Hawks, lots of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and a female Wood Duck.

White-eyed Vireo
White-eyed Vireo
White-eyed Vireo
Female Wood Duck

SEPTEMBER 6, 2019: BRACKEN BAT CAVE

Join Bat Conservation International and with your membership you'll receive a trip for four to visit the Bracken Bat Cave just outside of San Antonio. Millions of Mexican free-tailed bats emerge at dusk over the course of several hours during summer months, streaming overhead as you watch in awe. Check out the video below and you'll see why the emergence is called a "batnado"—it really is like a tornado of bats!

2019 FALL BIRD MIGRATION SAN ANTONIO

The fall migratory birds began appearing in the backyard in mid-August, with a surprise visit by a male Hooded Warbler. Yellow Warblers, Summer Tanagers, Bullock's Orioles, Orchard Orioles and a Black-throated Green Warbler followed. The week of September 8, a male Baltimore Oriole appeared and stayed for several days, repeatedly visiting a container full of grape jelly. And two Gray Catbirds visited for a week in October to feast on American Beautyberry fruit! The Black-chinned Hummingbirds that breed here are now gone until next March, but entertaining Ruby-throated hummers chase each other around the feeder as they prepare to depart for destinations to the south for winter.

Hooded Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Baltimore Oriole Female
Bell's Vireo
Yellow Warbler Female
Black-throated Green Warbler Female
Summer Tanager
Bullock's Oriole
Female Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole eating grape jelly
Gray Catbird
Lesser Goldfinch eating basil
Yellow Garden Spider

2019 SUMMER SCENES IN HARDBERGER PARK

Early mornings in Hardberger Park are best for seeing the greatest number of bird species, but butterflies appear a bit later in the day. The Demonstration Garden on the NW Military Highway side of the park has proven to be an excellent location for finding birds, butterflies, deer and lizards.

Eastern Phoebe
American Basket-Flower
Eastern Fox Squirrel
Black Swallowtail
White-tailed Fawn
Texas Spiny Lizard
Female Lesser Goldfinch
Carolina Wren
Young Crested Caracara
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Rose-bellied Lizard

JULY 15, 2019: TEXAS HILL COUNTRY RANCH

While visiting friends at their ranch near Enchanted Rock, north of Fredericksburg, Texas, we saw 19 species of birds, including some you don't find in San Antonio in summer. Lots of cool lizards, too!

 

Black-throated Sparrow
Painted Bunting
Female Orchard Oriole
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Canyon Towhee
Texas Spotted Whiptail

JUNE 13, 2019: SAN ANTONIO BOTANICAL GARDEN

During a NABA butterfly survey at the garden, we couldn't help but do some birding, too.

American Robin
Purple Martin

MAY 3, 2019: SAN ANTONIO BOTANICAL GARDEN

The Texas Ornithological Society held its Spring 2019 meeting in San Antonio. One of the field trips included a visit to the San Antonio Botanical Garden.

Couch's Kingbird
Curve-billed Thrasher

APRIL 6, 2019: LOVE CREEK PRESERVE

Love Creek Preserve is a 2,508-acre preserve near Medina, Texas, on land that was once part of a private ranch and now owned by The Nature Conservancy. Access is restricted, but an event on April 6 for volunteers included hiking and birdwatching. Golden-cheeked Warblers and Black-capped Vireos were seen and heard throughout this wildflower-rich Bandera Canyonlands landscape.

Golden-cheeked Warbler
Black-chinned Hummingbird

MARCH 16, 2019: LAND HERITAGE INSTITUTE

San Antonio Audubon Society held a field trip at this 1,200 acre "living land museum" on the city's south side along the Medina River. Highlights were a Grasshopper Sparrow, Eastern Bluebirds and Vermilion Flycatchers. Our list totaled 45 species.

Longhorn at LHI
Grasshopper Sparrow
Medina River at LHI
Eastern Bluebird
Female Vermilion Flycatcher

MARCH 15, 2019: HEADWATERS SANCTUARY AT INCARNATE WORD

The monthly third Friday walk was chilly and windy. Many Cedar Waxwings were flying overhead and White-eyed Vireos were singing from the trees. Finding Savannah Sparrows was a nice surprise.

Savannah Sparrow

MARCH 14, 2019: AVENUE A IN BRACKENRIDGE PARK

A male Vermilion Flycatcher and a Barred Owl were among the highlights seen during a walk along Avenue A in Brackenridge Park.

Barred Owl
Vermilion Flycatcher

MARCH 4, 2019: BEST PLANTS FOR BIRDS AND BUTTERFLIES

Provide food and nectar for birds and butterflies in San Antonio with these three plants, even if you have limited space and need to keep them in pots. During a presentation at the Witte Museum recently, Lee Marlowe from the San Antonio River Authority recommended Texas Frog Fruit (Phyla nodiflora), Mealy Blue Sage (Salvia farinacea) and Four-nerve Daisy (Tetraneuris scaposa).

Frog Fruit
Mealy Blue Sage
Four-nerve Daisy

JANUARY 27, 2019: ROCKPORT, TEXAS

Less than 3 hours from San Antonio, Rockport is a great spot for coastal birding. Wintering Whooping Cranes are found here, as well as a Great Blue Heron rookery.

Whooping Cranes
Great Blue Heron
American White Pelicans

JANUARY 22, 2019: SAN ANTONIO RIVER WALK

During a Bexar Audubon Society field trip to downtown San Antonio, we found a male Peregrine Falcon on the AT&T building at N. St. Mary's Street and Brooklyn. A female Peregrine Falcon was sitting in the starburst logo of the old Frost Bank Building at 100 W. Houston. The falcons have bands on their legs and are not a mating pair. The male, Triumph, spends the breeding season in Minneapolis. The female, Radisson, returns to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for breeding. We also found a Yellow-throated Warbler (photo by Mariana Outlaw) on the River Walk at N. St. Mary's and Crockett near Selena's bridge.

 

Female Peregrine Falcon
Birdwatching near Selena's Bridge
Yellow-throated Warbler

JANUARY 19, 2019: SA BOTANICAL GARDEN

The Third Saturday Bird Walk at SABG started out cold (38 degree wind chill) and very windy (gusts to 37 mph), but the sun was shining and the sky was clear. We saw 26 species of birds, including American Robin, Cooper's Hawk, Loggerhead Shrike, Red-shouldered Hawk, White-throated Sparrow and Long-billed Thrasher.

American Robin
Loggerhead Shrike

DECEMBER 14, 2018: CATHEDRAL PARK

Tucked into a residential neighborhood in Alamo Heights, Cathedral Park is truly a hidden gem for birdwatchers. The park is part of the Bishop Jones Center, the headquarters of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas. Springs of the San Antonio River flow through the property when rainfall is abundant. Birds seen here on a December walk included Yellow-rumped Warbler (photo by Mariana Outlaw), Blue-headed Vireo, Black-and-white Warbler and Summer Tanager.

 

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Springs at Cathedral Park

Bear Cave

Exercise Station

APRIL 1, 2018: STONE OAK PARK

Curve-billed Thrasher

Stone Oak Park is a refreshing green space in the midst of surburban development in north central San Antonio. The park is a reliable location for wintering wrens along the dam, Rufous-crowned Sparrows, and the Curve-billed Thrasher. Two caves are located in the park, Bear Cave and Cub Cave, but neither are open to the public. However, you can work out at the exercise stations located throughout the trail network.

SEPTEMBER 29, 2018: BLUE HOLE AT HEADWATERS SANCTUARY, UNIVERSITY OF THE INCARNATE WORD

The Blue Hole is considered the source spring of the San Antonio River and is located in the 53-acre Headwaters nature sanctuary on the campus of the University of the Incarnate Word. Headwaters is a non-profit sponsored Earth care ministry of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. Headwaters is adjacent to but not part of the University. Abundant rainfall in September raised the Edwards Aquifer level above 672 ft., causing the Blue Hole waters to flow again following a long period of drought.

Sign tells story about the Blue Hole
Inside the Blue Hole
Blue Hole at the Headwaters Sanctuary

OCTOBER 6, 2018: HARDBERGER PARK WEST

Groundbreaking for the Robert L. B. Tobin Land Bridge took place with former Mayor Phil Hardberger speaking to the public, along with several City of San Antonio representatives and Parks and Rec personnel. The bridge will span Wurzbach Parkway to connect the two sides of the park.

Land Bridge illustration
Land Bridge groundbreaking

OCTOBER 8, 2018: HARDBERGER PARK EAST

The Bird Water Feature is a small pond fed with recycled water and surrounded by rocks. It's located on the east side of the Salado Classroom building near the Blanco Rd. parking lot. A cedar post fence with cut-outs for viewing and photography stands in front of the water feature.

Hardberger Park East Bird Blind
Bird Water Feature at Hardberger Park East

OCTOBER 27, 2018: SAN ANTONIO BOTANICAL GARDEN

Couch's Kingbird is the kingbird you're most likely to find in San Antonio this time of year.

Couch's Kingbird