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Welcome to Friends of

National Wildlife Refuge


Board Meetings are normally at 5:30pm the 4th Tuesday of every Month, at the Refuge Headquarters. If you would like to attend, please send an email to friends(at) for current information.

See our Event Blog for post-event information!

Paid Memberships can now share photos. Login and upload them to your very own Photo Album!

Looking for Lodging?  click here.....

Looking for Balcones Songbird Festival Events? click here.......

Upcoming events

    • Saturday, October 04, 2014
    • 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
    • Doeskin Ranch, Balcones Canyonlands NWR

    Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge 
    invites you to participate in free activities
    at Doeskin Ranch on RR1174.


    FREE, fun programs, workshops & nature walks
    * Comfortable hiking shoes, water, binoculars and cameras are encouraged

    Guided walks & programs include:

    Hiking Ancient Seabeds 9:00-10:00am
    Landscaping for Wildlife 9:00-11:00am
    Marvelous Monarchs 10:00-11:00 am
    Native Grass Walk 11:00-12:00pm
    To Be a Bee 11:15-12:00pm
    Snakes Alive! 12:15-1:00pm
    Dragonfly Walk 1:00-4:00pm
    Useful Native Plants 1:30-3:00pm
    Nature Photography Workshop 2:00-4:00pm
    Spider Walk with Spider Joe (10:00 – 11:15am & 1:15 – 2:30pm)

    And more! Look for bizarre water creatures, learn about watersheds, catch and tag Monarchs (if they are here), watch for migrating hawks and enter the butterfly tent

    All events are at the Doeskin Ranch Unit of the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge on RR 1174 

    Directions: From FM 1431 (connecting Marble Falls and Lago Vista), go north on RR 1174 for approximately 5 miles. From Hwy. 29 (connecting Liberty Hill and Burnet), go south on RR 1174 for about 10 miles. Doeskin Ranch is on the east side of the road.

    For more info call the Refuge at 512-339-9432
    • Groups: please call in advance to register 
    • Times & Activities subject to change
    • Sunday, October 12, 2014
    • 6:30 AM - 5:00 PM
    • Doeskin Ranch, Balcones Canyonlands NWR

    Last year this event was canceled due to the Refuge being closed for the government shutdown. Join us this year as we sit twice as much to make up for missing our birds last year!  ( :

    The Big Sit! is an annual, international birding event hosted by Bird Watcher's Digest and sponsored by Swarovski Optik and Eagle Optics. It is more informally known as a "tailgate party for birders." The object is to see how many species you can count in a 17-foot diameter circle within a 24-hour period. This is usually done while sitting, visiting with fellow birders, eating, drinking, and relaxing!

    This will be the fifth year for The Big Sit! circle at the Balcones Canyonlands NWR on the Doeskin Ranch tract. The count will officially start around 6:30 a.m. and will likely end around 5:00 p.m. or so, but feel free to join us at any time during the day. It is a great way to spend the day in a beautiful place with good friends watching the birds. So bring a comfortable chair and join us! The count location is also wheelchair accessible. Reserve your spot by registering online or just show up. If you have questions, contact Shelia Hargis at or 512-294-0272.

    Visit the Bird big_sit_logo04.gifWatcher’s Digest website to see a video about the event and read more about it.

    The Big Sit!-  the most sedentary event in birding. Don’t miss it!

    • Saturday, November 01, 2014
    • 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
    • Flying X Ranch
    Exclusively for Members and FWS Volunteers

    Nature Day & Annual Meeting

    Saturday, November 1, 2014

     Please join us! Please RSVP BY October 27

    If you are a Friends member and/or a refuge volunteer, join us for a fun-filled day on the Refuge. And, if you aren’t a member yet, it is not too late to join. (FREE SUBSCRIBERS must upgrade to a full membership).  Join online and then join us for the fun.



    The morning will be filled with field trips Choose the one that fits your interest and then register.

    7:30am: Bird Walk with John Harrington  Meet at Flying X Ranch

    8:00am: Useful Plants with Lynette Holtz  Meet at Doeskin Ranch

    Please note that these field trips are subject to change depending on attendees and weather.
    Please come prepared to get off the beaten trail when needed. Closed-toe shoes and long pants are recommended on our walks, due to primitive trail conditions. Be sure to bring your sunscreen, hats and binoculars!


    10:00 am:
    Welcome & Announcements
    Scott Parker - The Trust for Public Land (click for bio)
    Board Elections
    Refuge Report
    LUNCH provided by FRIENDS
    Volunteer Appreciation Awards

    We need a quorum for elections. You can validate your membership status on the website! LOGIN and right click your name. If you haven't logged in yet, enter your email and click 'forgot password'.

    Family and business members have one vote.
    Please check in with the registrar when you arrive.
    Can't make it? Submit a Proxy form with an attendee.


    Re-elect Term
    Bill Carr (2010) Secretary
    Gary Caylor (2011)

    Dub Lyon (returning)
     Incumbent Members 
    Kelly Smith (2012) President
    Pat Wilkinson (2012) Treasurer
    Bill Seawell (2013)
    David Johnston (2013)
    Joan Mukherjee (2013)
    Lynette Holtz (2013)

    The following members term expire this year. While she will still be within our reach, we would like to thank her for years of dedicated service. 
    Sharon Macut (Vice-President 2008-2014)

    Additional candidates for Directors may be nominated by the membership at the meeting. All candidates must be active members in good standing and must have agreed to accept the position of Director.


    Flying X Ranch:
    89365 S. FM 1174, Bertram, TX

    The Flying X is on down the road and on the other side of the road from Doeskin Ranch. To get to the FLYING X RANCH, take FM 1431 west out of Lago Vista. Some 1.5 miles past Balcones Retreat turn right (north) onto FM 1174 and drive about 5.2 miles. 1 mile past Doeskin Ranch (on the right). You will find the entryway to the Flying X on the left hand side of RR 1174. It is made of stone and has a small sign that says Flying X. The lane from the entryway to the Flying X parking area is nearly a mile long.

    • Sunday, November 09, 2014
    • 7:30 AM - 11:30 AM
    • Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge
    • 15
    Registration opens in mid-October!
    Please join us for a bird walk at the Balcones Canyonlands NWR. The trip will run from 7:30 AM to 11:30 AM. We will be looking and listening for wintering birds, as well as our year-round residents. The trip is moderately strenuous and will include walking for approximately four hours on rocky, hill country terrain. The trip is limited to 15 participants and reservations are required. After you register, you will receive more details on the trip. For further questions, contact Deb Wallace at
    • Monday, December 15, 2014
    • 6:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    • The Balcones NWR Circle

    Seaon GreetingsThe Balcones
    Christmas Bird Count

    Monday December 15th, 2014

    Join us on Monday, December 15th, for the annual Balcones Christmas Bird Count (CBC). This count has enjoyed steady growth in participation over the past few years, and as a result our species total has continued to climb as well. We would love to continue this trend - more eyes in the field gives a better view of the birds life there.

    The Christmas Bird Count is the longest running wildlife census in the world and provides critical data on bird population trends and movements. The Balcones CBC is sponsored by the Friends of Balcones Canyonlands NWR. The circle includes all the tracts of the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge and the surrounding area (see the map on our website). We need many birders of all skill levels to adequately survey the birds in the circle area to find all of the expected species and the rare species visiting the area. We would especially like to have some feeder watchers this year, so if you live within the circle and have bird feeders, please participate.

    Thank you for participating in this important citizen-science project!

    For more information about CBC’s in general, see
    Email with questions or to register. Exisitng team leaders and member should email us to confirm you are returning.

    Not on an established Balcones CBC team yet? Please read the NEWCOMERS FAQ.
    • Friday, February 06, 2015
    • 3:00 PM
    • Sunday, February 08, 2015
    • 12:00 PM
    • The Retreat at Balcones Springs
    • 40
    See for details on the event.

    Please contact The Retreat at Balcones Springs to reserve your spot! 830.693.6639

    • Friday, April 24, 2015
    • Monday, April 27, 2015
    • Balcones Canyonlands NWR


    Our Mission

    The Balcones Songbird Festival encourages the preservation of the Refuge's critical habitat through the festivals educational tours, exhibits and children's activities which provide an opportunity to experience the animals, plants and habitats of the Texas Hill Country.
    We envision;
    .....a world in which people, plants and animals live in harmony
    .....a world in which the practice of green living comes naturally
    .....a world in which ecosystems around the world are protected for future generations


    Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge 
    Located about 30 miles NW of Austin, TX. 
    call: (512) 965-2473 

2014 © Friends of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge

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