Baker Sanctuary 2016 Year in Review

The article below represents an abridged version of the “Baker Sanctuary 2016 Year in Review” by Chris Murray, Land Manager and Educator at Travis Audubon. Click here to read the full report including additional details and data.

At the close of 2016, we celebrate another productive year at Baker Sanctuary. With the support of Travis Audubon volunteers, members, and partners, we were able to collect valuable data on bird populations, improve the health of native habitats, and inspire students and visitors to enjoy and learn from the beauty of our sanctuary. The summary below offers a glimpse into the many activities undertaken over the past year.

Golden-cheeked Warbler, photo by Julie Murray

Wildlife Monitoring & Sanctuary Management

Baker Sanctuary participated for the sixth year in a Golden-cheeked Warbler survey with Travis County and the City of Austin. Our analysis of 398 observations will assist the study in determining the population viability and habitat suitability of Golden-cheeked Warblers throughout the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve. During the month of June, we also conducted our own annual breeding bird survey for the sixth year. Other than a weak positive trend among the Lesser Goldfinch and Painted Bunting populations, analysis indicates that the populations of the 36 observed species are stable.

Baker Workday, photo by Al Morgan

The oak tree caging effort that started in 2013 continued this year with 24 additional cages placed around plateau, post, shin, and Spanish oak seedlings. Collecting data on these trees helps us to better understand factors affecting seedling growth so that we can enhance survivorship in the future. Meanwhile, the never-ending battle against invasive plants raged on. Gains were made in the control of various undesirable species throughout the Sanctuary, especially the Malta star-thistle and Tree-of-heaven groves.

Baker Open House, photo by Heather Valey

Outreach & Education

A total of 1243 visitors spent time at the Sanctuary in 2016, attracted by both day hiking and organized events. We maintained a busy schedule of guided hikes, field trips, and presentations as we continued to enhance community involvement and increase awareness of our mission. A partnership with Whitestone Elementary and Leander Intermediate School District (LISD) ensured that our programming reached hundreds of young students. Additional events, including a Youth Nature Camp, the annual Baker Open House, and the Great Backyard Bird Count, garnered participation from across the community.

Alex Massaro Eagle Scout Project

Last but certainly not least, a big thank you goes out to Eagle Scouts Nathan Sloey and Alex Massaro who provided the sanctuary a new entrance sign and brown-headed cowbird cage.

Volunteers at the sanctuary logged a total of 572.5 hours on a variety of activities. Once again many thanks to all the dedicated volunteers who made it possible!

We look forward to continuing and expanding our education and conservation efforts in 2017. We hope you will join us!


Sign Replacement by Eagle Scout Nathan Sloey