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wildlife observation

From bats to bluebirds, from golden-cheeked warblers to ring-tailed cats, wildlife abounds on Balcones Canyonlands NWR. In fact, the purpose of the refuge is wildlife. Since its founding in 1992, the refuge, with the help of the Friends group, has been working hard to restore and conserve the unique habitat that is the Canyonlands.

You can get a full list of documented species from the refuge website.


Did you know that more than 290 species of birds have been documented on the refuge? Many neotropical birds migrating north from South and Central America actually nest on the Refuge. Birding enthusiasts come from all over the world to fill in their life-time lists with species such as the golden-cheeked warbler (endangered) and the black-capped vireo (recently delisted, thanks to the success of the habitat restoration program at the refuge and across the hill country). You can track your own sightings using this handy bird checklist.


Our wildlife biologists have catalogued 55 species of mammals including raccoons, ring-tailed cats, grey fox, skunks, deer, beavers, and even 18 different species of bats, nine of which are neotropical migrants. Reptile and amphibian species include anole lizards, rat snakes, cricket frogs and the western hognose snake totaling almost 70 different species. And let's not forget all the insects from native bees to a plethora of dragonflies and damselflies and a kaleidoscope of butterflies!

plant life

Plant life is equally diverse including ferns and watercress along springs and creeks, impressive native grasses with roots that go down 8-10 feet, seven species of oaks, and an amazing mosaic of wildflowers with fun names like scrambled eggs, pearl milkweed, and leather flower. 750 species of plants have been documented. Each season brings its own kaleidoscope of shape and color, from the rainbow of spring wildflowers to the patchwork of reds and golds of the trees and native grasses during the fall.  


What creates such a diverse collection of plants and animals? From grasslands and meadows to shrublands, dense forests and woodlands, it’s the land and the habitats it supports. Fully one-third of Texas' threatened and endangered species live or move through this part of the Hill Country, the Edwards Plateau. Plus, the refuge has much of the watershed areas for Cow Creek, Big Sandy Creek, Hamilton Creek, and San Gabriel River all of which flow into the Lower Colorado. Many communities like the city of Austin depend solely on the the Lower Colorado River for their water. It’s important that we continue to protect this habitat and the watershed both for wildlife and the people who find refuge here.

There is just so much to see! Take a walk, listen to the sounds of the life around you, see what you can see, and enjoy the wildlife. Hope to see you out on the trails.

About Us

The Friends of Balcones Canyonlands NWR is a 501(c)(3) organization whose primary purpose is to support the mission of the Refuge in restoring and protecting the habitat. The Friends are committed to building a diverse, vibrant community that appreciates, supports, and connects with nature in a meaningful way.

Become a Member

Join the Friends in protecting the wildlife and habitat, and supporting the mission of the Refuge. Start by taking a hike or  attending an event, by watching the seasons change through what’s blooming, or by just watching a hawk soar, or even just sitting still and listening to the songbirds sing. You can have a positive impact. Come find your refuge at the Refuge and join the fun!

Find Us

Mailing Address:

PO Box 4678

Lago Vista, TX 78645

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