Learn to bird at Mitchell Lake Audubon Center in San Antonio, TX


Birding is the country’s fastest-growing leisure sport. | 📸. : @SATXtoday team

Table of Contents

Do you remember our Birdwatching 101 story we wrote at the beginning of May?

We decided to take our own advice and explore nature through a Beginner Bird Walk Tour at Mitchell Lake Audubon Center. With its extended summer hours beginning Sat., June 14, we thought it would be the perfect time to share what we’ve learned and what you can expect on your visit.

Once a sewage dump on the Southside of town, Mitchell Lake Audubon Center has become a bird refuge that focuses on connecting people to nature through conservation + community education on birds and their habitats.

🪶 The facts:

  • Opened in 2004 and owned by the San Antonio Water System, the park consists of Mitchell Lake — 215 acres of wetlands and 385 acres of upland habitat.
  • It’s one of the few places in Texas where you can actually drive through the preserve. Pro Tip: our guide, Ray, recommended doing a bird watching tour first followed by a drive through the center.
  • Before you reach Mitchel Lake, you will encounter two polders and five basins on the property.
  • Once the home of the first director (John Leeper) of the McNay Art Museum, the 1910 Leeper House was transported to the grounds of Mitchell Lake and is now the visitor center/gift shop.
  • Each year, 300+ species of birds visit the area, making it a critical stopover spot for migrating birds and one of the last before many species fly hundreds of miles across the open ocean.

While the preserve is a safe haven for birds, native plants are another crucial part of the center’s mission. More than 120 plant species have been identified and live on the property. Visitors can learn all about them through a stroll in the center’s native gardens or by visiting its website. Bonus: check out and listen to The Birdsong Project.

🪶Other conservation efforts and how you can help:

  • Currently, the center is working on two restoration projects for its grassland + wetland area.
  • Become a part of community science by joining the Christmas + Great Backyard Bird Count initiatives.
  • The center is always looking for volunteers. Think: Visitor Center Naturalists, clean-up crews, community outreach + more.

🪶 Plan your visit:

  • 2nd Saturday Habitat Work Day | Sat., June 11 | 8-11 a.m. | Free | Help keep the center clean by volunteering — training provided.
  • Guided Bird Tour | Sun., June 12 | 8-11 a.m. | $10 | Grab your binoculars and get ready to see 30+ different bird species with an expert guide.
  • Garden Pollinators: Birds, Bugs, & Bats | Thurs., June 23 | 6 p.m. | Virtual | Free | Learn about beneficial native pollinator species, the native plants that attract them, and tips on how to incorporate these plants into your outdoor space.
  • Beginner Bird Walk | Sat., June 25 | 8-11 a.m. | $10 | Recommended for the beginner birder — traveling by foot, your guide will go over birding identification and the proper use of binoculars.
  • Snake Saturday at Sunset | Sat., June 25 | 6:30-8:30 p.m. | $5+ | Sssspend the evening learning about native snakes with interactive activities.