On The Katy Prairie

Houston's bird land receives international recognition: 20,000 acres of winged paradise

Houston's bird land receives international recognition for conservancy

Katy Prairie Conservancy IBA Designation
The Long-billed Curlew is just one of more than 300 bird species found on the Katy Prairie Conservancy preserves that were just designated a Global Important Bird Area. Greg Lavaty

Katy Prairie Conservancy, a nonprofit land trust dedicated to preserving an ecologically vital tall grass prairie and wetland area on Houston's far west side, was just designated a Global Important Bird Area (IBA). This recognition is given to sites that have been deemed "exceptionally important" for bird conservation.

KPC's 20,000 acres of protected land are home more than 300 species of birds, several of which are of global conservancy concern. The preserve includes a wide variety of habitats which means the area is home to an extremely diverse group of birds. Bird species include rare varieties like the Long-billed Curlew, Henslow's Sparrow and Northern Bobwhite.

 KPC's 20,000 acres of protected land are home more than 300 species of birds. 

"Designation of KPC lands as a Global IPA is scientific recognition of how important our lands are as a habitat for birds and other wildlife," says Bob Honig, secretary of KPC's board of directors. "It puts KPC on the map as an important contributor to global bird conservation."

Conservation efforts at IBAs will allow land stewards like KPC to enhance biodiversity and mitigate the effects that habitat loss and degradation have on birds and other species.

The designation of the area as an IBA was a longtime goal of the preserve and the achievement required significant effort from both Conservancy staff and volunteers. Data gathered on KPC's lands from the annual Christmas Bird Count, eBird and personal birding records of volunteers were used to document the importance of the land and ultimately led to the Global IBA designation.

In the United States, the National Audubon Society administers the IBA program which "recognizes that coupled with global warming, habitat loss and fragmentation are the most serious threats facing populations of birds across America and around the world."

"The Katy Prairie Conservancy is a shining example of how local grassroots conservation efforts support conservation on a global scale," says Iliana Peña, director of conservation for Audubon Texas. "Their work ensures that struggling grassland species continue to find critical habitat along their migration route even amid an ever expanding urban footprint."