Long characterized as a land of wide open spaces, the Lone Star State is increasingly defined by its burgeoning cities and suburbs.
Photo: Sean Fitzgerald
Fueled by booming economic growth, Texas is currently the 3rd-fastest growing state in the nation. Eight of the fifteen fastest growing large cities in the United States are in Texas, and today, roughly 85% of Texans live in a major metropolitan area. This unprecedented growth is taking a heavy toll on resources vital to the health and stability of both Texas's urban and natural landscapes.
Texas is critical to North American birds throughout the year, providing vital breeding, wintering, and migratory stopover habitat for 623 different bird species. Reflecting the variation in Texas’s landscape, Texas birds are widely diverse, from tiny Rufous Hummingbirds that weigh less than a nickel to the stately, 5-foot-tall Whooping Cranes that winter on the coast. Texas is the southern gateway to North America’s Central Flyway, a migration corridor that leads from the Texas Gulf Coast through the heart of the continent and up as far as the Canadian tundra. Roughly 98.5% of North America’s long-distance migratory birds pass through Texas; that’s over 330 species!
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Over the last 100 years, urban sprawl has transformed 150 million acres of farmland and native habitats across the United States into buildings, hardscape, and 40 million acres of highly manicured lawns. Filled with exotic plants, these urban landscapes no longer support the healthy, functioning ecosystems that birds and wildlife need.