AUSTIN (KXAN) – Audubon Texas and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced Austin and Cedar Hill as the newest additions to the Bird City Texas flock. Since the Bird City Texas program began in 2020, eight other cities have been certified.

Austin and Cedar Hill have displayed leadership as Bird Friendly Cities by excelling in three criteria areas: community engagement, habitat enhancement and protection, and creating safer spaces for birds.

Meteorologist Sean Kelly spoke with Chloe Crumley of Texas Audubon to learn more about this certification program. Read the interview below to learn more.

Sean Kelly, KXAN News: Austin received a very important designation. Can you tell us about that?

Chloe Crumley, Texas Audubon: Bird City Texas is a is a certification program run by Audubon Texas and Texas Parks and Wildlife to recognize cities and their efforts to protect birds and their habitats where people live, work and recreate and do this cities must engage in science based initiatives and community centric actions. And since 2020, when the program began, 10 cities have been certified

Kelly: And how long is this program going to continue? For how long are we going to continue to add cities?

Crumley: We hope to continue to add cities indefinitely. The goal of the program is really to ensure that birds, wildlife and people thrive in our communities. We know that we live in a human-dominated landscape and to support functioning ecosystems, we can really take steps from an urban center or little rural towns to all benefit birds and us in turn. Research actually shows that bird-friendly habitat increases property values, helps control insects and generates tourism dollars.

Kelly: What’s an example of a community or a city doing something specific where they help to enhance and protect and create some safer spaces for these birds?

Crumley: So certified cities must display leadership by excelling in three criteria: community engagement, habitat enhancement and creating safer spaces for birds. So, for example, when we talk about community engagement — we require at least one community science program annually — Austin excels by having at least four annually. So that was one way that they helped to engage a community to learn about birds across the city itself.

One other areas of achievement that the city of Austin is doing is that they are working with the city and watershed program and the climate equity plan to approximately have about 10,000 acres across the city of Austin and turn it from its current state of degradation, due to invasive species and other human stressors, to be more resilient and plant native ecosystems to withstand climate change and provide new habitat for birds. So what about bird-friendly building standards? Many birds, when they see a reflective glass, unfortunately will collide into that. And so Travis Audubon, and other partners across the city are working to implement more bird-friendly standards and to have glass that is bird friendly.