Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge
When Spanish explorers first saw the layers of hills northwest of what is now Austin, Texas, they named the land Balcones. These limestone hills and spring fed canyons make up most of the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, located north of Lake Travis. The primary purpose of the refuge is to conserve the nesting habitat of the endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo. Both of these birds nest in Central Texas, the warbler exclusively.
The refuge falls at the juncture of the Great Plains and Gulf Coast bioregions. In addition, the refuge straddles the divide between the Colorado and Brazos watersheds. Beneath the land lies a mysterious labyrinth of caves. Add the unusual limestone geology of the Edwards Plateau and it’s not surprising to find plants and animals adapted to live here and nowhere else. At least a third of the state’s threatened and endangered species live or migrate through the area. Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge offers some of the best bird watching and habitat left in Texas for two endangered songbirds-the Black-capped Vireo and the Golden-cheeked Warbler. Try stopping at the Doeskin Ranch for a hike along the Rimrock trail to see Golden-cheeked Warbler country.