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.
Recently Reported Bird Sightings
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.
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.
If you are interested in volunteering with the Bird Banding or Birdhouse Network programs, please contact the
Heard's Volunteer Coordinator, Darlene Sumerfelt at firstname.lastname@example.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
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
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
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). The Heard is currently working on plans to make some of our trails accessible to our guests in wheelchairs and regular strollers. Call 972.562.5566 for details.