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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Inks Dam National Fish Hatchery Seeks Important Bird Area Designation from the Audubon Society

Region 2, July 15, 2013
Photo of a Bell's Vireo
Photo of a Bell's Vireo - Photo Credit: n/a
Photo of a Northern Bobwhite quail
Photo of a Northern Bobwhite quail - Photo Credit: n/a
Photo of a Painted Bunting
Photo of a Painted Bunting - Photo Credit: n/a

What do you think of when you hear the words National Fish Hatchery (NFH)? If you are like me, you think of fish. In contrast, Sherry Bixler, a member of the Friends of Inks Dam National Fish Hatchery friends group, Texas Master Naturalists, and the Highland Lakes Bird and Wildflower Society, thinks birds. She and several other bird enthusiasts began surveying the birds around Inks Dam NFH in March of 2013 and in just three months they documented about 100 different species that they have seen or heard while there. Additionally, Sherry expects the list of documented birds to surge upwards to 200 different species after the winter birds come through.

Why would so many birds be coming through the hatchery? Well, Inks Dam NFH is on about 100 acres of land in the central Texas Hill Country with only approximately 30+ acres used for fish culture, leaving plenty of space for other wildlife to utilize the land. The Hatchery has four major areas that provide habitat for birds including a meadow with mature trees, riparian habitat along Lake LBJ, and semi-arid rocky hill areas. Finally, the fish culture ponds at Inks Dam NFH provide shoreline for wading birds and resting or nesting areas for waterfowl.

According to Sherry, there are three birds commonly found at the hatchery that are on the Audubon Society’s Watchlist: the Painted Bunting, Northern Bobwhite quail, and the Bell’s Vireo. These birds have been sighted frequently at the facility by bird watchers. To help these birds, Inks Dam NFH, will be seeking designation as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by the Audubon Society. With Sherry’s diligent work she may be able to shorten the process, and Inks Dam NFH could be designated as an IBA by the Audubon Society, which normally takes three years.

*Additional Wildlife Contributions by National Fish Hatcheries

Contact Info: Jessie Jobs, 505-248-6970, jessie_jobs@fws.gov