SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) has completed a multi-year avian study which documents the abundance and diversity of birds using the restored habitat in the Mission Reach section of the San Antonio River Walk. A total of 201 bird species and over 62,000 individuals were recorded actively using the restored habitat in and along the San Antonio River. The results are being shared in honor of World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD), which is taking place on October 12, 2019.
“The Mission Reach is a very important ecosystem restoration project because we took on the challenge to restore a native ecosystem in a very urban environment,” said River Authority General Manager Suzanne Scott. “The River Authority will continue to fund the avian study because we want to build on the database that we’ve already collected, and we want to see if any new migratory birds come through as the ecosystem continues to change and grow with time.”
Data collected over a three-year period indicates that the intensive restoration and management efforts to provide quality habitat have been successful for the avian community. The Mission Reach serves as an important local habitat corridor, as well as being a part of the Central Flyway for migratory birds, and a thoroughfare for monarch butterflies and other important pollinators.
“We studied birds along the Mission Reach because they are an indicator species that can reflect the health of the habitat and the quality of the ecosystem community composition,” said Lee Marlowe, Sustainable Landscape Ecologist at the River Authority. “The diversity of birds present on the Mission Reach and the ease with which they can be observed demonstrate the ecosystem restoration is working and it allows for ample opportunities for the public to be engaged such as attending bird-focused events and the promotion of birding ecotourism along the San Antonio River.”
WMBD is an international education program that celebrates the migration of nearly 350 bird species between their nesting habitats in North America and wintering grounds in Latin America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. This year, WMBD focuses on the challenges of plastic pollution in the environment and the dangers plastics produce to migratory birds and offers solutions that people can implement to reduce their use of plastic items. The River Authority encourages the public to properly dispose of plastics, including the reduction, reuse, or recycling their plastic goods as it aligns with our mission to promote clean, safe, and enjoyable creeks and rivers.
To learn more about the Mission Reach, the Mission Reach Avian Study, and the migratory bird species that utilize the San Antonio River Basin, as well as steps the public can take to reduce litter and plastic debris in the San Antonio River, visit www.sara-tx.org.