National Wildlife Refuge
|24518 FM 1431
Marble Falls, TX 78654
Phone Number: 512-339-9432
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|Endangered black-capped vireo in nest and golden-cheeked warbler.|
Continued . . . If you surveyed Balcones Canyonlands NWR from the viewpoint of a circling turkey vulture you'd see that the refuge straddles the divide between the Colorado and Brazos watersheds.
The canyons facing Austin are deeply etched by erosion from the Colorado River tributaries. This rugged terrain has spared old ashe juniper and oak woodlands from logging and shelters some of the best golden-cheeked warbler habitat.
The Brazos tributaries to the north cut only shallow canyons. Here, the refuge foothills ease into savannahs. The open country supports oak shinneries(head-high thickets) that are vital to the black-capped vireo.
Both endangered songbirds share a common dilemma. They depend on very specialized habitats to make a living, and those places grow fewer by the day in the wake of development and human activity. That's why this refuge has a critical role to play in both preserving and restoring their homes.
Beneath the homes of songbirds lies a mysterious world of caves, rivers and sinkholes called "karst". Over time, naturally acidic water dissolved the limestone and sculpted a labyrinth inhabited by night creatures.
Ringtail cats and raccoons retreat into cave entrances for shelter. Cliff chirping frogs and whitethroat slimy salamanders squeeze into moist crevices. Cave crickets and daddy longlegs live within caves, but leave to feed and return. Some spiders, beetles and pseudoscorpions never come out to the light, living all their lives in reclusive darkness.
Say vermilion flycatcher and you'll have at least one captive audience. The refuge harbors some of the most eastern nesting pairs of these stunningly red birds, along with 245 bird species part or all year. Almost half are neotropical migrants that breed in the U.S. and winter south of the border.
This refuge has been identified as being significant for world bird conservation and officially designated a Globally Important Bird Area.
The American Bird Conservancy recognized Balcones Canyonlands NWR as an IBA for its significant role in conserving the Golden-cheeked Warbler, the Black-capped Vireo, and their habitats.
Roadsides and prairies transform to brilliant wildflower gardens each spring, accenting the emerald, olive and forest green of the Hill Country woods. The flowers in turn attract a myriad of butterflies. In summer, at least 37 kinds of dragonflies zip across ponds, streams and meadows in hot pursuit of their insect prey.
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