• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
Feel the intensity, not your equipment. Maximum image quality. Minimum weight. The new ZEISS SFL, up to 30% less weight than comparable competitors.

Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge - BirdForum Opus

Revision as of 01:58, 18 August 2017 by HelenB (talk | contribs) (update on annual events)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)

Stub.png This article is incomplete.
This article is missing one or more sections. You can help the BirdForum Opus by expanding it.

Photo by HelenB
The Shin Oak Observation Deck at Balcones Canyonlands NWR, May 2005

United States, Texas


Balcones Canyonlands NWR is located in the Texas Hill Country, on the northern side of Lake Travis, between Marble Falls and Austin. The most important purpose of this refuge is to conserve the nesting habitat of two endangered songbird species, the Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo.

The Balcones Songbird Festival is held in April each year


Notable Species

Black-capped Vireo and the Golden-cheeked Warbler.


To do


Birds you can see here include:

To do

Other Wildlife

To do

Site Information

History and Use

The refuge was established in 1992 to protect the nesting habitat of the endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo. It has been designated an official Globally Important Bird Area and receives about 20,000 visitors a year. The refuge is about 1 hour's drive NW of Austin.

Areas of Interest

Balcones Canyonlands is a very large refuge with 3 areas suitable for bird watching:

  • Doeskin Ranch
  • Warbler Vista
  • Refuge Headquarters

Access and Facilities

  • Refuge Headquarters is open Mon-Fri, 8am-4:30pm, except for Federal Holidays
  • Refuge Headquarters is located on FM 1432, about 5 miles west of Lago Vista
  • For a location map, see in External Links, below
  • Public entry is permitted to all units which are open to the public, from sunrise to sunset, daily
  • No entrance fees
  • No camping, open fires or pets allowed
  • There are trails ranging from 0.2 to 2.2 miles in length at Doeskin Ranch, Warbler Vista and the Refuge Headquarters.

Contact Details

Balcones Canyonlands NWR
24518 FM 1431
Marble Falls, TX 78654

External Links

Content and images originally posted by charri & HelenB


Steve Gross's review I've spent quite a bit of time here, and I really enjoy the fact that it's not a "touristy" location. Golden-cheeked Warblers and Black-capped Vireos give often great views at close quarters to those willing to be persistent. The priority at this refuge is clearly the endangered species that breed here, and that's fine by me. There is a Songbird Festival that offers field trips into not-usually-public sections of the refuge with knowlegeable trip leaders. Chuck Sexton is a fantastic guy and a great biologist. It's a pleasure to bird with him.

The Doeskin Ranch offers hiking opportunities through a nice variety of habitats, including Golden-cheek territories.

Make sure to bird along the Cow Creek Road when you pass between Warbler Vista and Doeskin Ranch. Pros

  • Great access to endangered species
  • no crowds


  • (Minor negatives) No visitor center
  • few amenities

ajmeyer5's review I spent several hours in the refuge one Saturday in early May 2006. I managed to find and photograph my first Golden Cheeked Warbler (very active little guy) at the Doeskin Ranch area by the creek about 100 yards from the parking lot. At the Shin Oak observation deck I heard and got a brief view of the Black-capped Vireo (very reclusive), and saw the Yellow-throated Vireo. Several other area residents and a late migrant or two made for a great outing. The temperature was still pleasant at that time of year. You can expect it to be very hot June through August in central Texas. Pros

  • No fees
  • no crowds


  • limited observations points several miles apart