The Balcones Songbirld Festival, April 26 – April 28, 2019, is set in the heart of the Central Texas Hill Country, not far from the Mustard Seed Bed and Breakfast on the Llano. The Festival is hosted by the Friends of Balcones and Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. This annual event offers a wide variety of interpretive events for learning about and experiencing birds and their Central Texas habitat. Leaders of the small group tours regularly lead birding field trips. They include Texas Master Naturalists, biologists, and expert birding guides. Registration opens February 14, 2019. Space is limited for each tour, and they often sell out.
Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge offers some of the best bird habitat and bird watching in Texas, and is designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. The 25,000 acre refuge hosts over 270 bird species during part or all of the year, and provides critical habitat for the endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler during its migration.
Please visit the Festival website for the schedule of each of these 2019 tours and their leaders:
- Chasing Rare & Endangered Ones will look for Golden-cheeked Warblers in the Refuge’s shady woodlands at one end of the Refuge, and for Black-capped Vireos in and around thickets at the other end. Participants will see and hear many other Hill Country birds as well.
- Hill Country Birding will look for many of the spring migrant birds as well as those that nest on the Refuge at the eastern edge of the Hill Country’s Edwards Plateau. The many species of birds targeted on this tour range from Ash-throated to Vermillion Flycatchers, Black-throated to Rufous Sparrows, Blue-headed Vireos, and more.
- Avian Photo Capture, Getting Started is an introduction to birding photography with an emphasis on having fun while in nature. It includes technical pointers about light capture, camera settings, and equipment, different kinds of birding shots, and composing photographs of birds in their natural environments.
- Bird on a Wire, based at the Refuge Headquarters, focuses on help identify different species by learning about some common bird behaviors and their purposes. This session is offered for all skill levels in a relaxed atmosphere. Binoculars, bird books, and chairs are provided, and it is handicap accessible.
- Birding Balcones by Sight & Sound focuses on improving birding skills and experiences by learning about bird songs. This hike in the Refuge includes brief discussions of birdsong, plus listening to, and identifying springtime birds nesting in the Hill Country. Bird songs and vocalizations can help identify birds, distinguish between closely related species, and may help interpret some of the complex communications between birds.
- Leader’s Choice, including its location, is not finalized until the Festival, depending on birds seen.
From the Mustard Seed Bed and Breakfast on the Llano, the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge is about an hour’s drive through the beautiful Hill Country spring landscape. On your evenings in Llano, you can relax in one of our three unique guest rooms with patio, kitchenette, plus access to our outdoor hot tub and fire pit areas in the evening. Our unhosted breakfasts each day make it convenient for leave for morning tours at Wildlife Refuge each day. Later, you’ll have plenty of time to return to Llano, where our B&B is just one block from downtown with its shopping, restaurants, wine bar, coffee bar, and more. Space is limited for the Balcones Songbird Festival tours, and registration opens February 14, so reserve your room at our bed and breakfast and the Festival tours soon!
Please visit the Festival website for detailed information.
NOTE: Many field trips sell out. Registration may be paid online for immediate confirmation. If paid by check, registration is not confirmed until payment is received. (There is a waitlist option.) Tour reservations may only be canceled until April 6, 2019, to receive a refund. After April 6, 2019 are no refunds.
Tours are conducted regardless of weather conditions including rain and temperature. Some may be delayed but will be held on the day of the event.
The Refuge is an unimproved, semi-wilderness state. Participants assume full responsibility for all loss, damages, harm, or expenses incurred by submitting their registrations. The Festival is hosted by the Friends of Balcones and Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge and supported by local and national sponsors.
Photo of rock dove by Javardh on UnSplash