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National Wildlife Refuge

The Retreat at Balcones Springs

February 6-8, 2015
Balcones Springs LogoRegister before January 15, 2015

SparrowFest Retreat 
Sparrow Identification Workshop 

Birding & Learning at its BEST!

Texas Hill Country 
The ever-popular sparrow workshop celebrates its 10th Anniversary with a weekend retreat in the Hill Country of Texas.

Join our talented leaders as they take you to refuge tracts beyond the trails where 'little brown birds' play. Learn how to identify the subtle differences and behavior of Texas wintering sparrows. Relax at The Retreat where good food and good friends will meet.

All-Inclusive package includes 2 nights lodging, 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners, 2 social mixers + a Friday night bonfire, keynote speaker, all classroom sessions and field trips. With access to 250 acres of recreational Hill Country property during your stay.

$349 per person(quad or higher occupancy)
$449 per person(double occupancy) 
This price includes the 18% Service Charge and $100 to Friends of Balcones for the workshop. 
We can assist in pairing up roommates to take advantage of the lower rate. Please call us!

The Retreat at Balcones Springs offers a perfect setting for learning sparrow identification Texas style! Cozy, country style cabins sleep 4-6 comfortably. Options for double and single occupancy available at additional costs. 

Contact The Retreat at Balcones Springs to register for the event! REGISTRATION FORM


Organize a group of 4 birding buddies to share a cabin and save significantly! 

Watch for our RGVBF promo Nov 4-9 and get a discount! Visit our booth.

for reservations call the resort

101 Balcones Springs Drive  
Marble Falls, TX 78654

Read about the Leaders

See The Retreat at Balcones Springs

Contact Cathy Harrington with questions 

Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum) Photo courtesy of Byron Stone
 Byron Stone -Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum)

About the Workshop
Level of physical difficulty - moderate
Level of birding difficulty - moderate to difficult
Fun - extreme!

During winter and early spring, central Texas is one of the best locations in the United States for the study of native sparrows. This workshop will focus on field identification of the twenty-plus species of native sparrows that occur regularly each year in central Texas. We will alternate classroom sessions with field trips to a variety of habitats to give participants the best opportunity to practice identification techniques and to maximize the chance to observe the large numbers and variety of sparrows present in the grasslands and scrub environments of the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. The workshop leaders, Byron Stone, Bill Reiner, Randy Pinkston, and Jeff Patterson. all have a great deal of experience with teaching and conducting field trips to observe sparrows and other specialty birds of central Texas. Participants should be prepared for a variety of weather conditions, ranging from mild to bitterly cold. Average highs in February are in the low 60's; average lows are in the 40's. Chance of rain on any given day in February is about 25%. The most important consideration is to bring sturdy footwear, since we will be walking in rocky, brushy terrain, often among prickly-pear cactus. Ideal footwear for this type of trip would be waterproof, leather hiking boots. We will spend several hours walking, although the pace will be slow, as we will (hopefully) be spending a fair amount of time observing flocks of winter sparrows and other birds. Participants should bring binoculars and other appropriate birding gear. Each of the instructors will have a spotting scope and tripod, but workshop participants are encouraged to bring their own scopes if they wish. A water bottle and a small pack to carry snacks and gear are highly recommended. Field trips will be split into four groups of approximately 12 persons each, in order to maximize opportunities for bird study. The instructors expect that workshop participants will have a good chance to see over 15 species of sparrows during the course of the day.


Cancellation Policy

There are no guarantees with respect of Hill Country weather. The workshop will be conducted regardless of conditions.


C. Coxwell - Sparrowfest 2014FRIDAY
3:00 p.m. Check-in starts
4:00 p.m. Social mixer
5:00 p.m. Dinner
Dusk: Owling and Bonfire

6:00 a.m. Breakfast
7:00 a.m.- field trips 
11:30 a.m. Lunch
12:30 p.m. Classroom 
1:30 p.m. Siesta, Bonus Walk 
2:30 p.m. field trips 
6:30 p.m. - Dinner, keynote Speaker

6:00 a.m. Breakfast
7:00 a.m. field trips
11:30 a.m. Countdown

--Schedule subject to change.
--Transportation to field trips sites will be via a combination of mini-van and carpool to Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. 

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