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21 July . 2016

Enjoy these 6 great bird watching spots near Rancho Sienna

Did you know that the Texas Hill Country is home to approximately 430 bird species, including the endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo?

Bird watching is one of the biggest and fastest-growing activities in America, enjoyed by more than 60 million bird-lovers of all ages. The health and mental benefits are many, from learning patience and developing quick reflexes, to getting more exercise as you follow the flock.

You don’t have to leave Rancho Sienna to enjoy some great birding. With more than 100 acres of parks and trails, there are plenty of opportunities to peep at feathered friends, especially around the feeders at The Sienna House and at the bird blind in Greenleaf Park.

If you’d like to spread your birding wings a little farther afield, here are 6 popular bird watching hot spots that make an easy day trip from Rancho Sienna. To read more about each of the places mentioned, click the title links.

Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge 
Approximately 25 miles from Rancho Sienna, this refuge between Austin and Marble Falls has been identified as an internationally Important Bird Area. It has unique importance to the Golden Cheeked Warbler, the only bird species that nests exclusively in Texas, and the Black-capped Video, a small “spectacled” bird that hangs upside down to feed on insects. You can meet these birds along miles of trails through old growth cedar forests and rocky creeks.

Courtesy of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge

Courtesy of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge

Fredericksburg
Fredericksburg is home to the new Live Oak Wilderness nature trail in Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park. More than half of the birds residing in Gillespie County were spotted in the park, including rare species like the zone-tailed hawk, yellow-crowned night heron and MacGillvray’s warbler. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, about 18 miles north of Fredericksburg, is a premier bird watching location.

Inks Lake State Park
Approximately 40 miles from Rancho Sienna, straight down S.H. 29, this 1,200-acre park in Burnet is home to turkey vultures, great blue herons, snowy egrets, mallard and wood ducks, cardinals, flycatchers, swallows, wrens, quail and sparrows. Birds of prey include great horned owls, barred owls, screech owls, red-tailed hawks and ospreys. Depending on the season, migratory birds like Canada geese, hummingbirds and pelicans also reside in the park.

Pelicans resting atop a buoy at Inks Lake State Park

Pelicans resting atop a buoy at Inks Lake State Park

Pedernales Falls State Park
Spanning 5,212 acres along the scenic Pedernales River, this park is home to more than 150 bird species, including ravens, vultures, herons, quail, doves, owls, roadrunners and wild turkeys, rufous-crowned sparrows and western scrub jays. The endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler nests in the park in the spring. 

South Llano River State Park
This 2,630-acre park has the typical Hill Country terrain, including large trees, diverse woodlands and two miles of river frontage along the South Llano River. The wooded bottomland is home to the Rio Grande turkey and is one of the oldest winter turkey roosts in Central Texas. Visitors can view green kingfishers and black phoebes foraging along the river. Other species include ringed kingfishers, zone-tailed hawks, painted bunting and black-throated sparrow.

Lost Maples State Natural Area
Thanks to its great biological diversity and botanical resources, Lost Maples State Natural Area is one of the best birding areas in the Hill Country. The Black-capped Vireo and Golden-cheeked Warbler nest and feed in the park in spring and early summer. Year-round species include the rare green kingfisher.

Right Here at Home
You can always stay right here in Rancho Sienna to enjoy bird watching.  The popular Greenleaf Park is home to a unique bird-watching blind and The Sienna House has newly-installed bird feeders - enjoy the view from right inside! 

The bird blind at Greenleaf Park in Rancho Sienna

The bird blind at Greenleaf Park in Rancho Sienna

The bird blind is nestled amongst the natural landscape of the Texas Hill Country.

The bird blind is nestled amongst the natural landscape of the Texas Hill Country.

The Sienna House bird feeders

The Sienna House bird feeders