18th Annual SparrowFest

  • Saturday, January 29, 2022
  • 7:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Doeskin Ranch, 9481 FM-1174, Bertram, Texas, 78605
  • 0


  • In-Person Sparrow Identification Workshop

The 18th Annual SparrowFest 

January 29, 2022 @ Doeskin Ranch

All Day: 7:00am - 5:00pm

In-Person Sparrow Identification Workshop

Hosted by the Friends of Balcones Canyonlands NWR

Facilitated by Byron Stone, Bill Reiner, Randy Pinkston & Jeff Patterson

The central Texas Hill Country is one of the best locations in the United States for the study of native sparrows in late winter. 

This extended workshop will focus on field identification of the species of native sparrows that are regularly seen each winter in central Texas. Our talented leaders will take you to refuge tracts beyond the trails where 'little brown birds' play. 

In-person participants will learn how to identify the subtle differences and behavior of Texas wintering sparrows.

Note: For those unable to attend our limited capacity (Max: 18) in-person event, we will also host a SparrowFest Identification Webinar, led by Texas Nature Trackers Biologist Craig Hensley, free of charge. The webinar will also feature a “report from the field”.  Webinar Registration will be open to all.  Further details will be shared closer to the day of the event.

What to Expect @ the In-Person Workshop        

·       Level of Physical Difficulty – Moderate

·       Level of Birding Difficulty - Moderate to Difficult

·       Level of Fun - EXTREME!

Participants will be split into smaller groups to maximize opportunities for bird study and will visit a variety of habitats that provide 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 instructors expect that workshop participants will have a good chance to see over 15 species of sparrows during the course of the day.

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 late January are in the low 60's; average lows are in the 40's. Chance of rain on any given day in late January is about 25%. 

Sturdy footwear is also encouraged, 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.

Registration includes a light breakfast, a hot lunch, afternoon snacks and a hot drink.  Participants are encouraged to bring their own reusable beverage containers.   

Last Day for Cancellation is January 3, 2022.

Health/Safety Requirements

For the protection of all involved, we will require proof of full COVID-19 vaccination for all in-person attendees at SparrowFest.  We ask that you provide your vaccination card or a photo of your vaccination card prior to the event to verify your vaccination status.  The event will be held outdoors and will be limited to 18 participants, allowing for social-distancing. 


Changes to attendance prerequisites, procedures and other protective measures are subject to change, based on the public health recommendations at the time of the event.  Any updated protocols and/or changes to the event structure will be shared with participants via email closer to the event date.  We appreciate your compliance and understanding.

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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