The Heard has been awarded The Audubon Society's designation as an important birding area. Texas has preeminence as a bird-watching area due to its placement on major migratory paths. However, The Heard offers special opportunities for bird-watching by providing a unique resource in a large metropolitan area. Dedicated volunteers aid The Heard in participating in on-going scientific work in bird banding and annual bird counts.

Checklist of Heard Sanctuary Birds
Recently Reported Bird Sightings
Second Saturday Bird Walks
Migratory Bird Banding
Birdhouse Network
Get Involved
Bird Banding Project Results
Annual Christmas Bird Count
Prairie & Timbers Audubon Society
Birding Photography
The Mindful Birding List of Ethical Birding Guidelines 

Recently Reported Bird Sightings

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Second Saturday Bird Walks

Saturday of each month (September - May only), 8AM

Monthly Bird Walks at the Heard The Heard Museum and Prairie & Timbers Audubon Society (PTAS) offer guided bird walks on the Heard Sanctuary. Walks begin promptly at 8 AM and last 1.5 hours. If you come a few minutes late the group may have already started their walk so it is important to be on time. Walks are included in regular admission. These bird walks are intended to help beginning and intermediate birders with bird spotting and identification techniques. There will also be plenty of opportunity for questions. Prairie, woodland, and wetland habitats are included in these walks.

Migratory Bird Banding

Bird banding contributes vital knowledge of habitat use. More than 25,000 birds have been banded at the Heard since the station’s establishment in 1978 and has provided information to evaluate habitat breeding quality. The station shares data with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) and participates in The Institute for Bird Populations (IBP) “MAPS” program (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) by contributing our data to an international effort. MAPS measures reproduction on breeding grounds and combines data from the U.S., Canada and Mexico so scientists can determine global populations of most songbird species.

Birdhouse Network

The Heard Birdhouse Network includes trained volunteers who conduct daily maintenance and monitoring of nesting boxes. Wood Duck, Hooded Merganser, Prothonotary Warbler, Eastern Bluebird, Carolina Wren, Purple Martin, Carolina Chickadee and Tufted Titmouse nest regularly in Heard nest boxes. This year the first Eastern Screech Owls nested here. The Heard also participates in Cornell University’s The Birdhouse Network, which provides a website showing cavity-nesting birds while they raise their young, including Heard Prothonotary Warbler and Wood Duck nest boxes.

Get Involved

If you are interested in volunteering with the Bird Banding or Birdhouse Network programs, please contact the Heard's Volunteer Coordinator, Darlene Sumerfelt at dsumerfelt@heardmuseum.org.

Fore more information about Heard volunteer opportunities, please visit our volunteer information page.

Bird Banding Project Results

The Heard operates a bird banding station on the wildlife sanctuary that monitors the flow of migrant songbirds during spring and fall migration each year. The station was established in 1978 and is the oldest bird banding station in the state of Texas. During the summer months the banding station actively participates in the MAPS program (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship).

During this program, mist nets are operated from late May through August to catch and band neotropical species that breed on the sanctuary. Bird banding programs such as these help determine the local population status of target species throughout their continental ranges.

Overview of the MAPS project

Bird Banding Census Reports & Summaries

Annual Christmas Bird Count

Each year, the National Audubon Society sponsors a nation-wide Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on the day after Christmas. The Audubon Society’s local chapter, Prairie & Timbers Audubon, organizes the McKinney count, collects the data and sends it to the National organization. Every state is divided into areas and every area is divided into sections. The same sections are counted every year and thus trends in population increases or decreases can be determined.

The event is not only a great excuse for birders to go birding, but an opportunity for less experienced or perhaps new birders to get out in the field with the long-time birders and hone their bird watching skills. The count lasts all day, usually from dawn ‘till dusk with a lunch break at noon, which is often provided. If you were not able to join us this year, please put it on your calendar for next year.

As in other years, the total number of species found at The Heard is only what was observed the day of the count. Species that are frequently on the sanctuary at this time of year include cowbirds, red-winged blackbirds, meadowlarks, common grackles, grasshopper and LeConte’s sparrow, lark, tree, and swamp sparrows, eastern towhee, loggerhead shrike, Bewick’s, house, and sedge wrens, pied-billed grebe, white pelican, hooded merganser, Forester’s tern, wigeon, shoveler, ring-neck duck, coots, yellowlegs, harriers, Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks, Swainson’s hawk, kestrel, barred and screech owls, roadrunner, and red-headed woodpecker.

Prairie & Timbers Audubon Society

PTAS has monthly meetings at the Heard Museum that feature programs with guest speakers on topics of interest to birders. For additional information see their website at prairieandtimbers.org 

Birding Photography

The Heard Nature Photographers Club meets the 2nd Saturday of each month at the Heard at 1:30PM. Visit their website for more details.

While our indoor exhibits are wheelchair and stroller accessible, the Heard nature trails are not currently wheelchair nor walker accessible. The trails are not paved and are only accessible to running strollers (not umbrella strollers). Call 972.562.5566 for details.