Latin: Rynchops niger
Brown Pelicans on Chester Island Photo: Peggy Wilkinson
Audubon Texas's Coastal Conservation program is conserving 175 islands along the Texas Coast and sustaining the bird populations that nest and forage on them.
Texas has one of the most biodiverse yet threatened coastlines in the nation. Stretching over 600 miles, much of the Texas coast is suffering from severe erosion, lack of freshwater inflows, and pollution. This rich ecoregion is the wintering grounds and stop over sites for over 98% of the long-distance migratory bird species in North America. The coast is also a stopping ground for the litter pollution carried through Texas's river system, meaning many of the conservation issues on the coast are at the mercy of the choices made by those across the Lone Star State.
In 1923, Audubon established a system of island sanctuaries along the Texas Coast. These sanctuaries are home to 20+ species of colonial waterbirds, several of which are considered endangered or threatened. The majority of waterbirds that nest along the coast nest on an Audubon owned or leased island. Our coastal sanctuaries host the largest Reddish Egret and Roseate Spoonbill colonies in the world.
Audubon wardens and TERN volunteers manage these islands, patrolling and censusing bird populations by boat during nesting season, controlling fire ants, planting shrubs and trees, and monitoring predator activity and erosion. In addition to managing the islands, wardens communicate with local media, organize volunteers, educate citizens, and work with recreational and commercial anglers. For decades this model of community-based stewardship has sustained one of the most effective bird conservation programs in the country. Audubon‘s coastal management program has been recognized through the Governors’ Blue Ribbon Committee on Environmental Excellence.
This year, Audubon Texas is celebrating its 100-year anniversary of coastal conservation along the coast. We look forward to celebrating our history throughout the year, while collectively taking on a future-focused lens and using the past to inform our future endeavors. Audubon Texas will look beyond our legacy stewardship work at coastal bird islands and develop new strategies to protect coastal habitats and increase coastal resiliency in key geographies.
From where it all began with stewardship and conservation along the Texas coast, to where we are today with programs and centers across the state.
Listen in on this podcast with Alexis Baldera to find out how Audubon Texas works to keep island bird sanctuaries from losing ground.
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