EVENTS

Small deer in the brush

You don’t have to be a member to register for an event. However, membership does entitle you to first notice of upcoming events and the ability to register up to a week in advance of the general public. With COVID restrictions, we’ve had to limit the number of participants so the events fill up quickly.

We follow all Federal, State and local restrictions regarding the wearing of masks and social distancing. An event may be cancelled depending on the mandate of local COVID restriction levels. Weather cancellations are sent to registered participants by 7:00am on the morning of the event.

To register for an event, just select the event and click on register.


Upcoming events

    • Saturday, May 22, 2021
    • 9:00 AM - 11:30 AM (CDT)
    • Meet up at BCNWR Headquarters
    • 0
    Join waitlist

    This hike has been so popular we are scheduling more. Hope to see you on the trails, before the summer heat hits!

    Have you ever wanted to take a peek behind the curtains of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge? Most of the refuge is closed to the public to allow for restoration and habitat management but now you can see closed parts of the refuge though our new Guided Hike series!  

    Join an experienced guided hike leader on a walk through time on the Martin tract of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. Learn about how the refuge has changed over time and the conservation work done today to enhance habitats for native Texas Hill Country plants and wildlife. 

    This 2.8 mile hike will be along a 2-track road that has 377 feet of elevation gains. The loose rocks combined with short steep slopes make this mostly unshaded trail a moderately difficult 2.5 hour hike. 

    Registration is required. Total hike participants is limited due to COVID-19 guidelines. Masks are required on all federal lands when 6 feet of social distancing cannot be maintained. 

    Please note that restrooms and drinking water are not available at this hike location. 


    • Saturday, May 22, 2021
    • 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM (CDT)
    • Doeskin Ranch
    • 0
    Join waitlist

    When:  Saturday, May 22nd, 2021   

    Time: 9:00-11:00

    Location: Doeskin Ranch

    Due to COVID restrictions participation is limited: 25

    Masks are required when social distancing is not possible.

     

    Useful Plants of the Hill Country

     

    Native peoples had few resources, so they made the most of what they did have.  Everything that could have a useful purpose, did – from edibles such as herbals, medicinals, and  ceremonial plants, to fibers, leaves and stalks for basketry, construction and weapons.  Think of nature as your favorite big box store.

     

    Master Naturalists Karyn and Mike Parker will share how native peoples made the most of what they had in their environment, as well as what they use themselves such as agarita jellies and yaupon holly teas.

     

    The event starts at the newly constructed amphitheater followed by a plant hike along the creek and pond where Karyn and Mike will show you some of the plants as they grow in nature.

     

    Suggestions for post field trip activities:

     

    If you want to explore the little town of Bertram, just north up 1174:

    • Lunch at Fratelli's– a authentic Italian pizza and pasta
    • Arts and crafts – Mosaic Gardens – fused glass, jewelry, goat milk soap, mosaics, and other art from local artists
    • Distillery – Flanigan’s Distillery – a fun tasting experience
    • The Pecan guy – his pecan cake won the Texas-wide HEB cook off contest.  He has a little coffee shop in the lobby of the Bertram library.  (warning – it’s addictive!)

     

    If you’re heading back to Austin on 1431:

    • Lunch at Flat Creek Winery just down Singleton Bend Road, about half way to Lago Vista, wood fired pizza, salmon, risottos and pastas, a lovely view and some of the best wines in the hill country (they have the awards to prove it!)  They also have a disc golf, a fun wine-theme gift shop and a variety of tastings.

     

    Map to Doeskin Ranch:



    • Sunday, May 23, 2021
    • 9:00 AM - 11:30 AM (CDT)
    • Meet up at BCNWR Headquarters
    • 0
    Registration is closed

    This hike has been so popular we are scheduling more. Hope to see you on the trails, before the summer heat hits! (Rescheduled from May16th)

    Have you ever wanted to take a peek behind the curtains of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge? Most of the refuge is closed to the public to allow for restoration and habitat management but now you can see closed parts of the refuge though our new Guided Hike series!  

    Join an experienced guided hike leader on a walk through time on the Martin tract of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. Learn about how the refuge has changed over time and the conservation work done today to enhance habitats for native Texas Hill Country plants and wildlife. 

    This 2.8 mile hike will be along a 2-track road that has 377 feet of elevation gains. The loose rocks combined with short steep slopes make this mostly unshaded trail a moderately difficult 2.5 hour hike. 

    Registration is required. Total hike participants is limited due to COVID-19 guidelines. Masks are required on all federal lands when 6 feet of social distancing cannot be maintained. 

    Please note that restrooms and drinking water are not available at this hike location. 


    • Saturday, June 05, 2021
    • 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM (CDT)
    • Doeskin Ranch Pavilion
    • 100
    Register

    This event was such a success pre-COVID, we've invited Ed and his birds back for another visit!


    From owls to hawks, eagles to falcons, Texas is home to a wonderful variety of birds of prey.  We typically focus on song birds in so many of our activities, we thought it would be interesting to spend some time learning about these amazing creatures.  

    To that end, we invited an expert, Ed Sones, with Austin Wildlife Rescue, to share some of his bird and their stories. Ed is very passionate about his feathered friends, their plight and restoring them to the wild. He will be bringing some of these friends with him.  These are birds that have been rehabilitated but that are not able to be released back into the wild.

    Well respected in the wildlife rehabilitation and conservation communities in and around Austin, Ed is also an engaging speaker.  Join us to learn more about birds of prey and see some of these fierce-some predators up close and personal. 

    AWR is a public, 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization operated by permitted rehabilitators and other animal lovers. Their areas of focus are wildlife rehabilitation, public education and conservation.  AWR serves as a resource for anyone who has found a sick, injured or orphaned wild animal, or has a question about nuisance wildlife or wildlife in general. Their licensed rehabilitators provide care for wildlife in need, with the ultimate goal of releasing them back into their native habitats.

     Note: Masks are no longer required for those who are fully vaccinated.  The event may be cancelled in the event of a change in the COVID restrictions or in the case of inclement weather.  Any cancellation notice will be sent to all who have registered by 7:00 the morning of the event. 

EVENT HIGHLIGHTS

In partnership with the Refuge, we also host three major events each year.

Sparrow

Sparrowfest

Typically scheduled in February, this event celebrates the little brown birds that flock to our feeders in the winter. More than 20 species spend their winters here. Guided by experienced birding guides, local bird lovers flock to the Refuge to see how many different sparrows they can spot and celebrate the diversity of the little bird.

Songbird on a branch

songbird festival

Typically scheduled in April, we celebrate the return of many neotropical songbirds who come to nest in the Canyonlands. The Balcones Songbird Festival is a celebration of nature through a collection of interpretive events designed to help you experience both bird species and their habitat. Experienced guides host bird walks on closed portions of the Refuge and help birds from around the world add to their life list.

Child and man with a hose

refuge week

A free event, it is typically scheduled in October. The Refuge and the Friends group host a myriad of activities celebrating the wildlife, the habitat and the people that make up the Canyonlands. It’s timed with the migration of hawks, many of whom head to South America for the winter. Lots of activities for both children and adults, including being part of the fire crew or working as a game warden, hiking ancient seabeds, nature photography, archery, native plants, habitat restoration, birds of prey, reptiles, and more.

PAST ACTIVITIES

Here’s some examples from previous events.  

Keep an eye on the calendar as many of these previous events and activities were so popular that we will be scheduling them again!

Opt Outside Hike: Where would you rather be on Black Friday, fighting the crowds or enjoying the peace and quiet of nature on a lovely guided hike. We started with an easy-to-moderate hike through grasslands, and along the north end of the creek. We saw lots of diverse habitat and plants, and heard lots of birds. Then we continued the hike along the creek, up the hill, circled the ridge along the Rim Rock Trail for some amazing, long-range views. A much better place to be on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
Native Plants: Are you ready to go native? What makes a plant a “native”? Why should we care? If I buy Lantana at a box store, isn’t it a native? If I want to attract birds, bees and butterflies, what should I plant? Are cedars and mesquite native? Are their good and bad natives? What's wrong with St. Augustine? Presenters from the Native Plant Society of Texas, Linda O’Nan and Jan Warren, answered these questions and so many more. Their talk was followed by a plant walk along two of our most popular tails.
Reptiles: Daniel Carter talked about native reptiles. A great activity for kids. Daniel shared some of his turtles, snakes, salamanders and lizards, and discussed their unique characteristics and explained their importance to our habitat.
Science Mill: From their bio lab to exploring the human body, a slice at a time, from the story of water to the mystery of fractals in nature, our tour guide helped us experience how nature, science and art intersect to create a world of curiosity and beauty in their creative and interactive exhibits. By igniting the curiosity of students, it inspires them to pursue post-secondary education, the Science Mill experience starts students on the path to a life-long career in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Olive Oil: We took a field trip to the Texas Hill Country Olive Company is family-owned and they are passionate about what they do, and the most awarded olive oil company in Texas, located in the beautiful and beloved "Texas Hill Country" of Dripping Springs Texas. Since day one the focus has been on preserving the natural beauty of the area while providing fresh locally produced extra virgin olive oil and other premium quality products. We had a private tour in the olive grove and went into the Mill to see (and taste) some of their award-winning olive oils. It was a fascinating education on olive tree growing and producing extra virgin olive oil with a wide range of flavors.


Suggest an event!

Inquiring minds want to know… We’d love your input on topics you’d like to see, hear, and experience at the Refuge. Do you have an interesting speaker that you think our visitors would enjoy? Do you have a topic you’d be willing to share? Let us know what you think.

Owl

About Us

The Friends of Balcones Canyonlands NWR is a 501(c)(3) organization whose primary purpose is to support the mission of the Refuge in restoring and protecting the habitat. The Friends are committed to building a diverse, vibrant community that appreciates, supports, and connects with nature in a meaningful way.

Become a Member

Join the Friends in protecting the wildlife and habitat, and supporting the mission of the Refuge. Start by taking a hike or  attending an event, by watching the seasons change through what’s blooming, or by just watching a hawk soar, or even just sitting still and listening to the songbirds sing. You can have a positive impact. Come find your refuge at the Refuge and join the fun!

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