EVENTS 

Small deer in the brush

Hello! We're glad you're here! 

As an FYI, you don't have to be a Friend/Member to register for an event, but Friends/Members do receive early notice of upcoming events and the ability to register up to a week in advance of the general public.

To sign-up, select the specific event and click "Register".

Please note: Events are popular and fill quickly! If an event is full, we encourage you to add yourself to the waitlist.



Upcoming events

    • Saturday, October 01, 2022
    • 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Doeskin Ranch Trailhead: 9481 FM-1174, Bertram, Texas, 78605
    • 0
    Join waitlist

    Celebrate Fall at Doeskin Ranch!

    Cooler weather and migrating butterflies make for a magical hike in October at Doeskin Ranch!


    Did you know that US Fish and Wildlife Service named Balcones Canyonlands one of the five "super stops" on the monarch migration trail?

    Join us for a guided hike at Doeskin Ranch on RR 1174. We will look for butterflies, as well as all other insects, birds, plants and other amazing features of this portion of the wildlife refuge!

    We start with an easy hike along the 0.6 mile Creek Trail.  The trail leads us through grasslands, and along the north end of the creek.  You’ll see lots of diverse habitat and plants, and this is the first place where we may encounter butterflies!

    Then if you’re up for it, you can continue to hike with us south along the creek, up the hill, circling the ridge along the Rim Rock Trail!

    It’s a total of 2.2 miles with lovely hill country views through old growth cedar and oak savanna. 

    START TIME: Our October hikes begin at 9 AM, and this hike should take approximately 2.5 hours, however there may be some extra time taken if we see some exciting flora and fauna

    EQUIPMENT: As always, wear appropriate shoes, bring plenty of water, bug spray, and sunscreen. Due to slippery rocks on the trail, hiking poles are also highly recommended.

    PHONE RECEPTION: Some phone-based GPS’ will not work in this area. A printable/downloadable map can be found here.

    GROUP SIZE: Registration is limited to 15 participants for this hike.

    WEATHER ADVISORY & OTHER CANCELLATIONS: In the event that we need to cancel due to extreme weather or other unforeseen conditions you will be notified via email before 6:00 AM on the day of the hike.

    PARTICIPANT CANCELLATIONS: Our hikes are popular and often have wait lists, if you need to cancel, we ask that you try to do so at least 48 hours in advance so that a wait-list participant is notified in adequate time to be able to join us on the trail!

    • Saturday, October 08, 2022
    • 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Warbler Vista Trailhead
    Register

    If you love hiking the trails, here's a chance to roll up your sleeves and make a difference.  Trail workdays are scheduled each month, rotating among the trails. Come join this fun, energetic group of dedicated trail builders and tamers.  If you're willing to help, please connect with the trails team at trails@friendsofbalcones.org, or Ryan Beach at ryan@friendsofbalcones.org. Listed below are the remaining monthly trail maintenance workdays at Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge scheduled for 2022. Note that the ones in the summer months are all at Warbler Vista where we have lots of shade!

    8:00 AM – 12:00 PM         8 October                      Warbler Vista

    8:00 AM – 12:00 PM         12 November                Warbler Vista

    8:00 AM – 12:00 PM         10 December                Doeskin Ranch



    • Sunday, October 09, 2022
    • 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
    • BCNWR Headquarters: 24518 Ranch Road 1431, Marble Falls, TX
    • 0
    Join waitlist

    Adventure behind-the-scenes at the wildlife refuge with a hike on the Martin Tract!

    Join us for 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 experience this part of the refuge with the help of our guided hike leaders!



    Join experienced guided hike leaders on a walk through time on the Martin tract of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. Enjoy long ranging views, 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 an old 2-track ranch 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 - 3 hour hike. 

    Registration is required and is limited due to the nature of the hike and the hike location.

    FACILITIES:  Since this is on a closed portion of the refuge, restrooms and drinking water are not available at this hike location. 

    START TIME: Our October hikes begin at 9 AM, and this hike should take approximately 2.5 hours, however there may be some extra time taken if we see some exciting flora and fauna!

    EQUIPMENT: As always, wear appropriate shoes, bring plenty of water, bug spray, and sunscreenDue to slippery rocks on the trail, hiking poles are also highly recommended.

    PHONE RECEPTION: Some phone-based GPS’ will not work in this area. A printable/downloadable map can be found here.

    GROUP SIZE: Registration is limited to 15 participants for this hike.

    WEATHER ADVISORY & OTHER CANCELLATIONS: In the event that we need to cancel due to extreme weather or other unforeseen conditions you will be notified via email before 6:00 AM on the day of the hike.

    PARTICIPANT CANCELLATIONS: Our hikes are popular and often have wait lists, if you need to cancel, we ask that you try to do so at least 48 hours in advance so that a wait-list participant is notified in adequate time to be able to join us on the trail!


    • Saturday, October 15, 2022
    • 9:00 AM - 11:30 AM
    • Zoom webinar
    Register

    Photo courtesy of NOAA

    Photo courtesy of NOAA.

    To borrow from Churchill, Texas weather is riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.  From flash drought to flash flood, South Central Texas has a variety of extreme weather.  This weather discussion will try to explain not only the current weather pattern we are in, but also expand on other weather hazards that the area experiences including tornadoes, hurricanes, and winter weather.

    In preparation for this webinar, we asked for input from our membership. As you can imagine, the topics centered on rain, drought, the heat, the "new normal", snow-magedan, etc.  Here's a sampling:

    • My friends and I are scattered around the Llano, Burnet, and Blanco counties. Each of us swears that when the storms show up on radar and it promises rain, the clouds part over our particular spot and the rains skirt around our homes. Are the rains really as spotty as they seem?
    • When I look at the radar and see rain headed my direction, then it begins to dissipate and we miss out. Why does it do that? What causes the scattering of showers in the hill country?
    • What are the main drivers of rainfall in the Hill Country? In this time of drought, where will the best hope for significant rain come from?
    • Will reduction in rainfall over time cause significant change in vegetation?
    • Are these severe winters going to be the new normal?
    • Will the summers get so hot and dry that songbirds will nest further North?
    • A state meteorologist in 1927 famously described Texas climate by saying, "Texas is a land of perennial drought, broken by the occasional devastating flood." In the 95 years since that quote, how has his assessment played out?
    • Are there any projections for how long this drought will last? and how severe?
      What do you expect for our Central Texas weather for the next 5 to 10 years? Can we break out of this drought?
    • Is the drought of the 1950s still considered to be the "drought of record"? In evaluating the severity of drought how does the excessive heat figure in along with the lack of rainfall?
    • What is the impact of climate change on the weather in our region?
    • How do you come up with your predictions? Is there an assessment of how accurate the predictions turn out to be?
    • What does 50% chance of rain mean? Rain in 50% of the viewing area or a 50% chance you will get any rain in the viewing area? I've heard talk of seeding clouds to produce more chances for rain. Is that environmentally sound?
    • What impact do solar winds and solar cycles have on our weather? and why?

    The link to the Zoom meeting will be sent in the event reminder you will receive a few days before the event.

    Bio for Paul Yura

    Warning Coordination Meteorologist
    National Weather Service Austin-San Antonio TX
    Paul Yura was born and raised in Austin, went to school at the University of Texas before transferring to the University of Oklahoma where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in meteorology and attended graduate school.  While going to school, he worked summers at the Austin Weather Service Office and the Norman Oklahoma NWS office.  After graduation, Paul began his full time career with the National Weather Service in Brownsville TX as a forecaster. Paul transferred to the NWS office in Charleston SC in 2002 where he was a Lead forecaster and then Warning Coordination Meteorologist (WCM).  In 2008 Paul accepted the Warning Coordination Meteorologist position at the Austin-San Antonio weather office. As WCM, his primary job is to be the liaison between the National Weather Service and local media, citizens, county, state, and federal agencies as well as conduct storm damage surveys and community outreach.


    • Sunday, October 16, 2022
    • 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Doeskin Ranch Trailhead: 9481 FM-1174, Bertram, Texas, 78605
    • 0
    Join waitlist

    Celebrate Fall at Doeskin Ranch!

    Cooler weather makes a magical hike in October at Doeskin Ranch!

    Rolling hills full of grasslands and ashe juniper trees

    Join us for a guided hike at Doeskin Ranch on RR 1174. We will look for butterflies, as well as all other insects, birds, plants and other amazing features of this portion of the wildlife refuge!

    We start with an easy hike along the 0.6 mile Creek Trail.  The trail leads us through grasslands, and along the north end of the creek.  You’ll see lots of diverse habitat and plants.

    Then if you’re up for it, you can continue to hike with us south along the creek, up the hill, circling the ridge along the Rim Rock Trail!

    It’s a total of 2.2 miles with lovely hill country views through old growth cedar and oak savanna. 

    START TIME: Our October hikes begin at 9 AM, and this hike should take approximately 2.5 hours, however there may be some extra time taken if we see some exciting flora and fauna

    EQUIPMENT: As always, wear appropriate shoes, bring plenty of water, bug spray, and sunscreen. Due to slippery rocks on the trail, hiking poles are also highly recommended.

    PHONE RECEPTION: Some phone-based GPS’ will not work in this area. A printable/downloadable map can be found here.

    GROUP SIZE: Registration is limited to 15 participants for this hike.

    WEATHER ADVISORY & OTHER CANCELLATIONS: In the event that we need to cancel due to extreme weather or other unforeseen conditions you will be notified via email before 6:00 AM on the day of the hike.

    PARTICIPANT CANCELLATIONS: Our hikes are popular and often have wait lists, if you need to cancel, we ask that you try to do so at least 48 hours in advance so that a wait-list participant is notified in adequate time to be able to join us on the trail!

    • Friday, October 21, 2022
    • 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
    • Quarry Canyon Trailhead; Warbler Vista, West of Lago Vista on 1431
    • 16
    Register

    Come explore the trails of Warbler Vista and find out what makes it so very special!


    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.


    Check out all of the wildflowers, flowering trees and other native plants that support this diverse habitat.  Your guides are master naturalists, trail builders and nature enthusiasts.

    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.

    START TIME: This is an afternoon hike which will begin at 2:00 PM and end at 5:00 PM. 

    EQUIPMENT: As always, wear appropriate shoes, bring plenty of water, bug spray, and sunscreen. Due to slippery rocks on the trail, hiking poles are also highly recommended.

    GROUP SIZE: Registration is limited to 15 participants for this hike.

    WEATHER ADVISORY & OTHER CANCELLATIONS: Texas is currently experiencing extreme heat conditions. In the event that we need to cancel due to extreme weather or other unforeseen conditions you will be notified via email before 11:00 AM on the day of the hike.


    PARTICIPANT CANCELLATIONS: Our hikes are popular and often have wait lists, if you need to cancel, we ask that you try to do so at least 48 hours in advance so that a wait-list participant is notified in adequate time to be able to join us on the trail!
    • Saturday, October 22, 2022
    • 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
    • Doeskin Ranch Trailhead: 9481 FM-1174, Bertram, Texas, 78605
    • 14
    Register

    Celebrate Fall at Doeskin Ranch!

    Cooler weather makes a magical hike in October at Doeskin Ranch!

    Rolling hills full of grasslands and ashe juniper trees

    Join us for a guided hike at Doeskin Ranch on RR 1174. We will look for butterflies, as well as all other insects, birds, plants and other amazing features of this portion of the wildlife refuge!

    We start with an easy hike along the 0.6 mile Creek Trail.  The trail leads us through grasslands, and along the north end of the creek.  You’ll see lots of diverse habitat and plants.

    Then if you’re up for it, you can continue to hike with us south along the creek, up the hill, circling the ridge along the Rim Rock Trail!

    It’s a total of 2.2 miles with lovely hill country views through old growth cedar and oak savanna. 

    START TIME: This afternoon hike will begin at 2 PM, and this hike should take approximately 2.5 hours, however there may be some extra time taken if we see some exciting flora and fauna

    EQUIPMENT: As always, wear appropriate shoes, bring plenty of water, bug spray, and sunscreen. Due to slippery rocks on the trail, hiking poles are also highly recommended.

    PHONE RECEPTION: Some phone-based GPS’ will not work in this area. A printable/downloadable map can be found here.

    GROUP SIZE: Registration is limited to 15 participants for this hike.

    WEATHER ADVISORY & OTHER CANCELLATIONS: In the event that we need to cancel due to extreme weather or other unforeseen conditions you will be notified via email before 6:00 AM on the day of the hike.

    PARTICIPANT CANCELLATIONS: Our hikes are popular and often have wait lists, if you need to cancel, we ask that you try to do so at least 48 hours in advance so that a wait-list participant is notified in adequate time to be able to join us on the trail!

Annual HIGHLIGHTS

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 Returns in 2023!

Save the Dates: April 21-23, 2023.

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 birders from around the world add to their life lists.

Registration will open on February 14, 2023. 


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.


SUGGESTIONS/COMMENTS

We welcome your ideas for future events! 

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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