h-town is for the birds

Houston flies high with new 'Bird City' parks and wildlife honor

Houston flies high with new 'Bird City' parks and wildlife honor

Yellow crowned Night-Heron Bird of Houston
Meet the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, the official Bird of Houston.  Photo by Kathy Adams Clark

Spring in the Gulf Coast means thousands of visitors from across the nation and globe descending on High Island on the Bolivar Peninsula for a chance to see millions of migrating birds passing through the Lone Star State.

But, as it turns out, Houstonians don’t need to head south to see our feathered friends. Houston has been honored with the “Bird City” designation from Audubon Texas and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s inaugural Bird City Texas certification program.

The growing popularity of planting native plants, restoring the native prairies, bird-friendly education programs, and Houston Lights Out for Birds program for migrating birds were among the many efforts and programs that gained Houston the designation, according to a press release. The new, community-focused certification program has been created to help people protect birds and their habitats.

Houston has a significant community-wide effort underway in the support of native plants that support wildlife, including birds. One of many properties is White Oak Parkway, a pilot “Bird-Friendly Park,” where efforts are currently underway for invasive removal, native plantings, pop-up birding stations, bird surveys, volunteer days, and community science programs.

“This certification recognizes the significant bird conservation efforts by the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Houston Audubon, and many other organizations throughout the greater Houston area,” said Kelli Ondracek, Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Natural Resources manager, in a statement. “We will continue to work collaboratively with our partners to advance habitat restoration and education efforts to benefit birds and other wildlife.”

“The Bird City designation is a great affirmation of the heroic conservation work and growing appreciation of birds in the Greater Houston Area. I commend the city for their vision and for recognizing the important role birds and nature play in our quality of life and economy,” said Helen Drummond, Houston Audubon’s executive director, in a statement.