The New Year at Chaetura Canyon

By Georgean and Paul Kyle, Sanctuary Stewards

January was a month of preparation at Chaetura Canyon: tree-trimming, trail maintenance, nest-box and Chimney Swift tower cleaning, and much more. To hold disturbance of the wildlife to a minimum, all of this must be completed before the local birds begin nesting. The locals’ nesting generally precedes that of the arriving migrants by several weeks. This January we made some great progress.

All of the nest boxes and towers were serviced. We were disappointed by the apparent lack of use of most of the nest boxes, but there are a lot of natural cavities on the sanctuary. Productivity in the Chimney Swift towers was also less than average, but we have no hypothesis on the cause.

340 feet of new trail and 51 steps were completed and mulched. More than 100 cubic yards of Juniper slash created by trimming and thinning was hauled out of the Canyon with the help of nine hearty volunteers (pictured below) at the January 28th Stewardship Day. All participants started the day with a continental breakfast around the indoor fire pit, and were treated to a hearty lunch after the work was completed. Thanks so much to our great volunteers!

Chipping Sparrows as well as Lesser and American Goldfinches frequented the feeders in good numbers with the colder than usual temperatures (18° was the coldest night). The .37” of rainfall for the month was below normal, but there was a light dusting of snow. In addition to the regular feeder birds (Northern Cardinals, Black-crested Titmice, Carolina Chickadees, Ladder-backed and Golden-fronted Woodpeckers, and Yellow-rumped and Orange-crowned Warblers), a Great-horned Owl (pictured below) and juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk were photographed near the residence.

Thanks to the following individuals for donations of useful items to Chaetura Canyon in January:

  • Wild Bird Center of Lakeway: 26 pounds of wild bird seed
  • Dale Zoch-Hardilek and Charles Hardilek: Safflower bird seed, and assorted cookies, crackers, canned goods, and tea for events and work days
  • Richard and Linda Knowles: 1 pound of gourmet coffee for events and work days
  • Jake’s Tree House Gardens: 4 pints of marmalade for events and work days
  • Sarah and Rafael Ruiz: Chirpy Top wine pourer for events
  • Kay and Kevin Rolfes: Truckload of hardwood firewood for the wood stoves

Wish list: We recently completed construction of the permanent benches (pictured below) at the top of the Canyon Rim Trail on the north end of the sanctuary. We are seeking donations to build similar ones on the south end. These can include a memorial or dedication plaque. Please contact us for more information (

A full slate of events is scheduled for 2018. Check the TAS calendar for Chaetura Canyon for something that suits your fancy, and come see us!

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