IS THAT A CARDINAL?
Austin nests top 10 spot in new rank of best U.S. cities for birdwatching
Calling all Austin ornithophiles: It's time to bust out the field guides and binoculars. Austin just placed No. 9 in a new national ranking of the best cities for birdwatching, and during Great Outdoors Month no less.
The 2023 report by Lawn Love ranked Austin highly based on the popularity of the activity in the city, and its accessibility. One of the biggest perks is the Travis Audubon, which has been in operation for 71 years to promote avian and environmental conservation. Their website says birding "appeals to all ages and provides a great family activity."
"Time spent in nature provides positive physical and mental benefits," they say. "Birding is a gateway activity to connect people with nature, building a deeper understanding of our relationship with the natural world and the role we all serve as stewards of the environment."
The Audubon also hosts several annual feathered festivities, including the Birdathon and Birding Brawl, where locals can spend time outdoors and compete to see as many birds as they can in a single trip.
Austin also earned high regard in the report for having the third highest number of Audubon centers and sanctuaries, in a three-way tie with Seattle, Washington and Columbus, Ohio.
Lawn Love's report analyzed 14 different metrics to rank 200 of the largest U.S. cities, including number of wildlife refuges, bird species, birdwatching groups, festivals, organizations, and more.
The only other Texas city to outrank Austin was Houston (No. 3), with New York (No. 1) and San Diego (No. 2) rounding out the top three best birding cities.
The top 10 American cities for birdwatching are:
- No. 1 – New York City
- No. 2 – San Diego
- No. 3 – Houston
- No. 4 – Seattle
- No. 5 – Los Angeles
- No. 6 – San Francisco
- No. 7 – Philadelphia
- No. 8 – Phoenix
- No. 9 – Austin
- No. 10 – Chicago
Dr. Dustin Reichard, an assistant professor of biological sciences at Ohio Wesleyan University, provided three tips for beginner birdwatchers in the report. He suggested tagging along with the local Audubon society for those first few birding trips, getting to know the basic birds around the area first, and always remember that it gets easier to identify birds over time with practice.
"It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of bird species and give up on trying to learn to identify them," Dr. Reichard said. "You will learn which birds to expect in different habitats and that will narrow the list of possible species substantially. Also, remember point one: go out with someone experienced who can help you with these identifications initially."
The full report and its methodology can be found on lawnlove.com.