EVENTS

Small deer in the brush

You don’t have to be a member to register for an event. Members get early 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 guidelines regarding the wearing of masks and social distancing. Weather cancellations are sent to registered participants by 7:00 am on the morning of the event.

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


Upcoming events

    • Saturday, December 04, 2021
    • 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
    • Doeskin Ranch Pavilion, 9481 FM-1174, Bertram, TX 78605
    • 6
    Register

    Dear Member,

    Please join us for our upcoming Annual Membership Meeting on Saturday, December 4, 2021 from 10:30am-11:30am at the Doeskin Ranch Pavilion.

    We’ll be sharing reflections from 2021, highlighting what’s on the horizon for 2022, and will have the opportunity to tour the Refuge’s new Mobile Ranger Station.  Member awards and recognitions will also be part of our agenda. 

    It is sure to be a great opportunity for us to come together as a community and connect with one another.  A post-meeting hike is also encouraged!  

    Capacity is limited, per COVID-19 protocols, so we ask that all attendees register in advance.  Thank you for your help in this regard.  Light refreshments will be served.  

    Lastly, if you have any questions or comments that you would like to submit ahead of the meeting, please send them to sarahmeyer@friendsofbalcones.org.

    We look forward to seeing you out at the Refuge soon!  

    • Sunday, December 12, 2021
    • 9:00 AM - 11:30 PM
    • Meet up at the Quarry Canyon trailhead at Warbler Vista, just west of Lago Vista on 1431.
    • 0
    Join waitlist

    Come learn what makes Warbler Vista unique!


    In the spring and summer, this is prime golden-cheeked warbler territory. In the fall and winter, there's still lots to see.  On the hike, you will pass moss-covered seeps that feed the Colorado River watershed, wander through the forested hillside, see huge limestone boulders and canyons, and learn about unique Texas plants and animals that call the refuge home. Plus you may spot some of the  more than twenty species of sparrows along with countless other winter birds that come here to escape the snow.

    Meet at the Quarry Canyon parking lot near the trailhead. This is a moderately difficult hike through a beautiful oak-juniper forest. This 2.1 mile hike will meander up the steep new Quarry Canyon trail, then over to Vista Knoll and Cactus Rocks before descending on the Boulder trail.

    As always, wear appropriate shoes, bring plenty of water, bug spray, and sunscreen.

    NOTE:  Registration is required as total hike participants is limited due to COVID-19 guidelines.

    In the event we need to cancel due to weather or other circumstances, you will be notified by 7:00 on the morning of the hike.

    If you can no longer participate, log in to your profile on the Friends website and use the my event registration link to cancel your registration.  This will allow folks on the wait list the opportunity to hike in your place.

    • Tuesday, December 14, 2021
    • Various
    Register

    Calling all bird lovers!

    Join us for the annual Balcones Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on Tuesday, December 14, 2021.

    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 below). 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. If you live within the circle and have bird feeders, you can still join in on the fun!

    For more information on the areas on which we will focus, plus the list from last year's count, click here.

    To register, email Brad James/Lori Malloy @ balconescbc@gmail.com

    For more information about CBC’s in general, see http://birds.audubon.org/conservation/join-christmas-bird-count.

    Due to COVID-19, activities must comply with all current state and Municipal COVID-19 guidelines.  The refuge has asked that we follow Travis County guidelines. As a result, we will not have a compilation gathering, but will instead, we will use a drop-off location to be named.

    CBC areas of focus for 2021:



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 on the refuge. The Balcones Canyonlands 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 live in 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.


BAlcones Christmas Bird Count

Every December, birders from around the area gather to count birds and document the species count. This is part of the citizen-science projects program. This is the longest running wildlife census in the world and provides critical data on bird populations and movements. You don't need to tramp through the wild, although that is lots of fun.  You can also contribute by monitoring the visitors to your feeders. In 2020, we counted 13,804 birds, 106 different species. The invitation to join is typically published in early November. Come be a part of this worldwide effort!


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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