Water for Wild Birds Publication Now Available in West Texas

ALPINE TX –West Texas landowners and residents are encouraged to lend a hand in conserving the birds of the Trans-Pecos. A new publication Water for Wild Birds: Tools for Arid Landscapes is now available to help folks who enjoy seeing birds provide the resources they need so birds can thrive in the Chihuahuan Desert. The project originated with the Davis Mountains Hummingbird Celebration and was guided by Trans-Pecos Bird Conservation Inc. and the Tierra Grande Master Naturalists’ chapter. Additional support was provided by the Borderlands Research Institute at Sul Ross State University and private funding.

“We’re very appreciative of the funding provided by Apache Corporation to print 1,500 copies that will be available to landowners and others who are interested in bird conservation,” said Cecilia Riley, who is president of Trans-Pecos Bird Conservation Inc. “Thanks to the Borderlands Research Institute, the publication is also available online. Everyone can play a role in bird conservation, and every drop of water that we can provide for birds will help them survive in our arid West Texas environment.”

Engaging more people in bird conservation is an urgent issue. An analysis of North American bird populations that was published in the journal SCIENCE documents that the number of birds in the United States and Canada has declined by 29 percent in the last 50 years, a statistic that has shocked researchers and conservation organizations. Compounding that issue in West Texas is the ongoing drought, categorized as an “exceptional drought” by the National Weather Service. Native West Texas birds have adapted to the climate, but drought conditions can make it harder to survive, and can make it especially difficult for migrating birds to make it through alive.

“It’s more important than ever that we each play a role in taking these birds under our wing,” said Madge Lindsay, Vice-President of Trans-Pecos Bird Conservation Inc. “It’s so easy to provide just a little bit of water, and especially for migrating birds, it makes a huge difference in their survival.”

More than 500 species of birds have been documented in West Texas, and the booklet describes the birds that are of highest conservation priority. It also provides tips for what you can do to help, along with specific suggestions for rainwater collection and disbursement to benefit wild birds. The publication is inspired by the work of Brad Lancaster, author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond. That book goes into much more detail about what landowners can do to harvest rainwater to benefit wildlife. Funding for the project will also be used to purchase copies of that book for local libraries so that it can be made available to area landowners. Water for Wild Birds: Tools for Arid Landscapes will also be available in libraries and will be distributed to local landowners through the Borderlands Research Institute.

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“We really hope we can inspire more West Texans to take an active role in bird conservation,” said Lindsay. “The fact is that this needs to be done, or we’re going to lose these beautiful creatures that give us so much joy.”

Find the publication online at https://bri.sulross.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/2020-WATER-FOR-BIRDS.pdf

Hard copies of the booklet are also available for pick-up at the Borderlands Research Institute office in the Range Animal Science Center on US Highway 90 in Alpine, Texas.

For more than a decade, the Borderlands Research Institute has encouraged effective land stewardship of the Chihuahuan Desert. Housed at Sul Ross State University, the Borderlands Research Institute builds on a long-lasting partnership with private landowners, the university’s Range and Wildlife Program, and cooperating state, federal, and non-governmental organizations. Through research, education, and outreach, the Borderlands Research Institute is helping to conserve the last frontier of Texas and the Southwest.