Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Sparrow Fest Workshop held at Balcones Canyonlands NWR
Southwest Region, February 12, 2006
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The inaugural Sparrow Fest sponsored by the Friends of Balcones Canyonlands was held at Balcones Canyonlands NWR, northwest of Austin.  During the winter and early spring, central Texas is one of the best locations in the United States for the study of native sparrows.  This two-day workshop focused on field identification of the 20-plus species of native sparrows that occur regularly each year in the Texas Hill Country.  The workshop alternated with classroom sessions and field trips to a variety of habitats to give participants the best opportunity to practice identification techniques and to maximize the chance to observe the large numbers and variety of sparrows present in the grasslands and scrub environments of the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge.  The workshop leaders, Byron Stone and Bill Reiner, both have a great deal of experience with teaching and conducting field trips to observe sparrows and other specialty birds of central Texas.  Twenty-two people attended the event, held on February 10-12, 2006.  Participants stayed at the nearby Balcones Springs Retreat and Conference Center.  The group viewed 21 sparrow species for a total of 61 bird species.  Neal Templin was one of the participants and he wrote an article on his experience that appeared in the Wall Street Journal on February 23.

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov
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