This spring Fredericksburg celebrates natural flight by hosting its first annual Wings Over The Hills nature festival at Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park.
Scheduled Friday, April 29, through Sunday, May 1, the event salutes the varied and unique winged creatures of the Texas Hill Country – birds, butterflies, dragonflies and bats – with guided tours, lectures, photography class, exhibits, and more.
“We’ve got something for everyone from the curious child to the seasoned birder,” said Mike Elvir, president of the Fredericksburg Rotary Club and co-chairman of the festival. “Our goal is to provide a wide range of educational and entertainment opportunities suitable for the whole family.”
“We are especially pleased to be offering birding tours to private ranches and localities not previously open to the public,” said naturalist Bill Lindemann, the other co-chairman of Wings and founder of the Fredericksburg Nature Center.
With a diverse habitat that ranges from rivers and still-water wetlands to oak woods and native prairie to rocky granite hills, the Texas Hill Country is home to a thrilling diversity of more than 160 species of native and migratory birds.
The festival kicks off at the park on Friday, April 29, with a juried trade show, kids’ activities tent, and a series of lectures beginning at 1 p.m. Guided park nature trail walks, lectures, kids’ tent, and trade show continue Saturday, April 30, until 6 p.m.
One event Friday evening is open to the general public. John Karger’s Last Chance Forever is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Fredericksburg High School Auditorium (1107 S. Highway 16); tickets cost $5/person and are available at the door. Karger’s program of practical environmentalism features rescued birds of prey.
All tours are scheduled for Saturday, April 30, beginning as early as 7 a.m. Travel is by motor coach and tour sizes are limited. Each tour is accompanied by an experienced guide.
Full-day birding tours are scheduled to Pedernales Falls State Park, Lost Maples State Natural Area (SNA), West Kerr County, and Junction Vicinity. Half-day birding tours are scheduled to Enchanted Rock SNA, Texas Parks & Wildlife Fish Hatchery and Mountain Home Ranch, Willow City Loop, and Quiet Hill Ranch.
Birding tour participants can expect to see native Texas species such Vermillion Flycatcher, Green Kingfisher, Black Phoebe, and spring migrants. Lindemann added, “This is a good opportunity to add two endangered species to your life list: the Black-capped Vireo and the Golden-cheeked Warbler.”
Noted entomologist James Lasswell will be leading a full-day “Dragonfly Chase” beginning in Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park and ending in Kerr County. “We’ll be walking in a stream,” Lasswell advised, “so rubber boots are a necessity.”
Other tours include a full-day Butterfly Chase and an evening visit to the Old Tunnel Wildlife Management Area, home to more than 3 million Mexican Free-tailed and Cave Myotis bats.