Check out Armand Bayou’s Rookery Tour this weekend and witness the incredible sight of over 400 colonial waterbirds raising the next generation.

In 2008, a Rookery spontaneously formed at ABNC and it continues to grow every year, with over 400 colonial waterbirds gathering to raise the next generation every Spring at peak nesting season. Our dedicated Stewardship team and volunteers have built and maintained 300 nesting boxes over the year to enhance nesting opportunities on this secluded Rookery! Check out our Rookery Tour this weekend to see this amazing testament to the high-quality complete habitat mosaic of our nature preserve.

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The innovative Girl Scout Troop 143059 is on a mission at Armand Bayou to uncover bat secrets.

Girl Scout Troop 143059, mostly from the Pearland area, has been working on a Silver Award Project in conjunction with Amber Bearb, Fish and WIldlife Biologist USFWS and Jennifer Smith-Castro, USFWS White Nose Syndrome/Bat Coordinator. The Troop has been studying bats and taking bat hikes at ABNC with Kevin Bauman since the Fall of 2023. Today they deployed an acoustic listening device on the preserve as part of the North American Bat Monitoring Program. The data collected from this monitoring post will be used to compile the kind of bats in a specific location over time. Later in the Spring. the Troop plans to share this information with ABNC and the surrounding community.

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Dive into nature’s playground at Armand Bayou with family dip-netting, bayou safaris, and sunset cruises, where ospreys and eagles soar.

If you’re looking for a great way to reconnect with nature this weekend try an Ospreys and Eagles Tour, Family Dip-netting, Bayou Safari Tour, or Sunset Cruise! We will also be open Monday for even more time to explore ABNC! Learn more and book your adventure at https://www.abnc.org/

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Scout Troop 848 and Camden are conservation heroes at Armand Bayou Nature Center.

Thank you Scout Troop 848 and Camden Redden who lead a conservation project at Armand Bayou Nature Center. The project was to repurpose the bobwhite quail LyondellBasell Aviary to prepare it for the arrival of Skyler, our red-tailed hawk ambassador. They worked hard to power wash the aviary, remove soil, and add new soil to create a habitat for Skyler. A big thanks goes out to Camden and his troop for all the work they are doing.

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Armand Bayou: The important role of shad as nature’s fertilizer and food source.

Gulf Menhaden, which local fishermen call shad, can detect ultrasound used by predators. “Menhaden” comes from a Native American word for fertilizer in which they used to bury the fish under the corn crops for a better yield. They are filter feeding omnivores who not only filter zooplankton but also algae in the water. They are considered to be the most important fish in the ocean because they are an extremely important food source for many marine animals including fish, mammals and birds. This small fish is also a key food source for wildlife like dolphins and whales which shows the interconnectivity of our bayou to the ocean. Menhaden are a pelagic schooling fish that migrate inshore during the summer and off-shore in the winter months. A great blog by our late Chief Naturalist and Director of Conservation Emeritus, the late Mark Kramer can be found here. abnc.org/nature-blog/living-water. Photos by Gary Seloff & Stacy Holcomb
#WildlifeWednesday #fish

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Shining a light on fireflies, Armand Bayou was paid a visit from renowned researcher Lynn F. Faust.

Thank you to our Firefly volunteer team and to internationally renowned author and firefly researcher, Lynn F. Faust who dropped by to visit Armand Bayou’s firefly habitats in January. This was truly a golden opportunity for the firefly team to learn from the best! Faust refers to her fellow firefly enthusiasts as sparks, but she really is the catalyst that generates the interest and concern for these bioluminescent insects. She remarked on the beauty and diversity of ABNC’s ecosystems! Currently, five species have been identified on site using Faust’s field guide, but she suggested that more would most likely be identified as the research progressed. Faust spent the entire day and evening at Armand walking the trails with Mary Dobberstine, Alyssa Goforth, Leda Parker and staff member Wren Bradley. #thankyou #thankfulthursday #fireflies

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Unplug and unwind the kids at Armand Bayou’s EcoExcursions for teens to enjoy nature this Spring Break.

This Spring Break ABNC will be offering EcoExcursions for ages 13 to 18 years old. Teens can take a break from the Virtual World to Canoe, Fish, Bird, Hike, Picnic and more. Each day will be a new outdoor adventure, March 13 & 15. Registration required, sign up for one day or both! abnc.org/teen-ecoexcursions

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ABNC celebrated a whopping 13,500 hours of volunteering making a difference in 2023.

We could not do all that we do at ABNC to preserve this vast urban wilderness without our amazing, dedicated volunteers. Last night we had our volunteer appreciation dinner to honor and thank them for all they do. In 2023 our volunteers logged over 13,500 hours. Also, thank you to all the volunteers of the year awarded to Greg Nenninger, Nadia Olsen, Sharon Tummins, Clare Hansen and Niels Udengaard.

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Check out how river otters get a long in the cold.

River otters do well in the cold. Texas A&M researchers found that they are internally warmed by thermogenic leak from their skeletal muscle, which in turn, elevates their metabolic rate keeping them warm in frigid waters and ice. We had some otters visit recently. Thank you Donald Parrott for sharing photos of this happy sighting.

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Check out some of the up and coming Armand Bayou EcoPrograms. It’s all about nature adventures for kids 18 months to 14 years old.

ABNC’s EcoPrograms provide kids 18 months to 14 years old with unique opportunities to explore and learn about nature. Every week we offer fun new topics, book one week or many. Registration is now open abnc.org/eco-programs. Some upcoming EcoProgram topics are on Pelicans, Bison, Bugging out, and woodpeckers. Photo credit: Stacy Holcomb and Tyson Vodochodsky

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We had a big Texas freeze in 1983 and Armand Bayou remembers with some marine death stats.

Thankfully this week’s freeze was only a few days, but back in 1983 the Texas coast had a freeze for 7 consecutive days which caused a massive fish kill, the largest on record for the state of Texas. When water temperature drops below about 45 degrees and remains there for a day or so, fish like spotted seatrout, redfish, black drum, sheepshead and a lot of other smaller fish begin seeing their cold-blooded metabolism slow too low to keep them alive. The final estimate from Texas Parks and Wildlife coastal fisheries was that at least 20 million marine creatures perished and at least 14 million finfish from the freeze in 1983. This photo from December 25th 1983 was donated by Stacy Holcomb and was taken in Timbercove on Taylor Lake, just about a mile south of Armand Bayou Nature Centers boundary of preserved land on the other side of Red Bluff. Armand Bayou Nature Center’s boundary also has part of Taylor bayou that is just north of Taylor Lake.

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An inside look at alligators and how they survive in extreme weather at Armand Bayou.

When the weather dips to freezing or below, many people express concern about our own local wildlife. A lot of wildlife tend to go dormant and hide from the wind and elements as best as they can. Very few mammals hibernate in Texas because of our mild climate. Reptiles like alligators and turtles do not hibernate but they do go into a lethargic state called brumation. Mamma Alligators will dig holes like this one did in August to help regulate their temperature in the heat and in the colder months. Photos by Tyson Vodochodsky
#arcticblast #alligator

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Check out the fun EcoPrograms for kids to learn about animals and science only at Armand Bayou’s Nature Center.

EcoPrograms give kids a fun hands-on way to learn about animals, like raccoons, possums, otters; animal facts, like hibernation and food webs; and scientific elements like acids and bases and energy. Spring classes start this week, book one week or many. abnc.org/eco-programs

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Armand Bayou welcomes Skyler their new red-tailed hawk ambassador.

Welcome our new ambassador “Skyler” who is a red-tailed hawk! She has an injured wing and can’t be released back into the wild. Thank you Bay Area Wildlife Rehabilitation with Michele Johnson, Patty Simmons, Brian Cain and Rhonda Murgatroyd for caring for her and working with her and ABNC. We are also thankful for our zoologist Chris Vazquez for his time and dedication putting in over 250 plus hours of falconry training. We are truly grateful to LyondellBasell for sponsoring the aviary. And we’d love to thank Camden Redden and his troop 848 for helping prepare the aviary for her new home.

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Check out the critters for your kid to learn about in Armand Bayou’s EcoPrograms for kids 18 months to 14 years old.

ABNC’s EcoPrograms start January 10th, providing kids 18 months to 14 years old with unique opportunities to explore and learn about nature. Every week we offer fun new topics, book one week or many. Registration is now open abnc.org/eco-programs. Some upcoming topics include raccoon, skunk, woodpeckers and pelican. Photos by Stacy Holcomb and Tyson Vodochodsky

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Armand Bayou is celebrating 50 years with exciting plans for 2024.

Happy New Year!! 2024 is ABNC’s 50th anniversary, and we have many exciting plans to mark this momentous year, including the new Welcome Center, which will be completed in mid 2024. Thank you to the many supporters over the past 50 years who have made ABNC the amazing place it is today, we are truly grateful!
Photo by Stacy Holcomb

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Preserving the coastal tallgrass prairie, a 2,500 acre haven for wildlife and native plants at Armand Bayou.

Buck saunters through our coastal tallgrass prairie. As part of our 2,500 acre nature preserve, ABNC meticulously restores and conserves 900 acres of coastal tall-grass prairie. This remnant of historic prairie supports a huge diversity of plants and animals. These native plants and grasses provide critical breeding, nursery, feeding and cover habitat for prairie-dependent wildlife. Photo courtesy of Gary Seloff

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Unleash your child’s inner EcoExplorer during this Winter Break at Armand Bayou Nature Center.

Winter Break EcoExplorers are for kids 4 to 11 years old. Cool topics include The Secret Life of Mammals like skunks, opossums, bats and bobcats. Radical Reptiles like alligators, snakes and turtles and last but not least Fantasy Animals, Dragons and Dinosaurs, Mermaids and fish. Learn more and book at abnc.org/winter-ecoexplorers

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Armand Bayou conserving coastal prairies and helping to protect the unique Northern Harrier.

Northern Harriers are the only harriers found in North America. They hunt by surprising prey while flying low to the ground in open areas, such as the one seen over our prairie recently. They have an owl-like facial disk that allows them to hunt by sound as well as by sight. males and females are dimorphic meaning they differ in color so the male is also called gray ghost. All northern harriers have that white rump patch. Northern Harrier numbers appear to be declining in North America because of the loss of natural open habitats which is why it’s extremely crucial to conserve coastal prairies like ours. Up to 95% of their diet comprises small mammals such as rodents, and is why farmers often saw them as good hawks because they pose no threat to poultry. Photo courtesy of Gary Seloff 

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Get Ready for Christmas by the Bayou to welcome Santa at Armand Bayou Nature Center today 10-3pm.

We’re getting ready for a special visitor tomorrow at Armand Bayou Nature Center. Join us for Christmas by the Bayou to take pictures with Santa, meet our friendly elves, Paint Tree Cookies, and shop our General Store full of homemade crafts, handmade jellies & baked goodies. Learn more and book at abnc.org/christmas-bayou.

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Cooper’s hawk with colorful eyes and distinct calls hanging around at Armand Bayou Nature Center.

One interesting fact about a Cooper’s hawk, their eyes change colors, chicks will usually hatch with yellow-green eyes that slowly turn orange and then red when they get older. Sharp-shinned hawk and Cooper’s hawks look a lot alike even for seasoned birders. A Cooper’s hawk is about the size of a crow whereas a sharp-shinned hawk is the size of a blue jay or dove. Their calls can be very distinct as well. If you listen closely, a Sharp Shinned Hawk will sound higher pitched, whereas a Cooper’s Hawk is lower and sounds like “kak-kak-kak” or a laugh instead of high pitched “kik-kik-kik.”
Photo taken by Gary Seloff

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The remarkable role of Blue Jays in Oak Tree expansion and how they can start a forest.

Blue jays have been found to cache somewhere between 3,000-5,000 acorns each in one fall and will bury seeds up to 2 ½ miles from their original source; they can start a forest in their lifetime. Because of the birds’ habit of burying acorns over a wide area, 11 species of oak trees have become dependent on them for the dispersal of their acorns. It is thought that Blue Jays are the reason oak trees spread north so rapidly after the last glacial period. Video by Stacy Holcomb

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Reconnect with nature and family this Thanksgiving break at Armand Bayou. They got it all.

Reconnect with your family and nature this Thanksgiving break at ABNC. Try a Kayak Tour, Pontoon Cruise, Night Hike, or fun Holiday Paint by Nature. And don’t miss Texas Recycles Days which will include fun demos and free Bayou Safari Tours. Learn more at https://www.abnc.org/reconnect-with-nature

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TPC Group’s Annual Charity Golf Tournament wrote a check to Armond Bayou’s Animal Ambassadors Program.

This #thankfulThursday we are truly grateful to TPC Group for choosing ABNC as a beneficiary of their Annual Charity Golf Tournament again this year. Thank you, your support this year helped us to build outdoor habitats for our rescued animal ambassadors including a skunk, opossum, Texas tortoises and box turtles! The goal of our animal ambassadors program is to educate people of all ages about the importance of protecting wildlife for the health and sustainability of our local ecosystems, biodiversity, and communities. 

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How restoration efforts at Armand Bayou brought least bitterns back to the bayou.

There was a time in Armand bayou when there were no bullrush grasses and because of that, there was also no least bittern. Through the hard efforts of people like Mark Kramer who created the bullrush bomb (he engineered a system where clumps of California bullrush roots, held together by chicken wire and weighted down) and the efforts of many hard working volunteers, we can now see the fruits of their labor like this beautiful least bittern which are now frequently seen on the bayou. Least bitterns have not only come back, they are nesting and thriving as proof of the successful restoration and conservation efforts. This photo is of a female least bittern that is in bullrush snagging minnows called gulf menhaden.
https://www.abnc.org/nature-blog/avian-acrobat 

Photo courtesy of Gary Seloff .

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Explore with Winter Break in Armand Bayou’s EcoExplorers, a journey into the secret lives of animals.

Winter Break EcoExplorers are for kids 4 to 11 years old. Cool topics include The Secret Life of Mammals like skunks, opossums, bats and bobcats. Radical Reptiles like alligators, snakes and turtles and last but not least Fantasy Animals, Dragons and Dinosaurs, Mermaids and fish. Learn more and book at abnc.org/winter-ecoexplorers.

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Armand Bayou get a hook up from The Garden Club of Houston with a generous binocular grant.

The Garden Club of Houston was here checking out our new sets of Binoculars. We are truly grateful to them for the grant they awarded to purchase the Binoculars, and we are very thankful to our amazing volunteer GEM crew for installing them at the Rotary Pond and Prairie Platform. The stand-alone binoculars provide ABNC visitors with the ability to see details they would otherwise miss while viewing wildlife and our restored native prairie. 

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Disappointment in the forecast, Armand Bayou’s Fall Festival is cancelled.

Us when we saw the weather forecast for this weekend. Photo courtesy of Gary Seloff. Like many of you we are also very disappointed that our annual Fall Festival is not happening this year. Thank you for your patience and understanding. We’re unable to reschedule the festival, but we are planning some fun activities and events for Thanksgiving break, so please stay tuned for details coming over the next week.

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League City Intermediate students give back to the community at Armand Bayou’s Annual Fall Festival.

In preparation for ABNC’s upcoming Annual Fall Festival, students in Ms. Fahey’s class “The Gift of Giving”, cleaned the Hanson Farmhouse, the hay barn, pole barn, milking shed for aquatic supplies and also washed windows in our Environmental Learning Center. These amazing kids from League City Intermediate School make a practice of cheerfully giving back to the community. Thank you to the students, teachers and chaperones for helping out on a very cold day! #thankyou #ThankfulThursday #grateful

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The majestic brown pelican is a conservation success story of overcoming extinction at Armand Bayou and the coast.

The majestic brown pelican is a success story of what can happen when people come together to help bring a species back from near extinction. The chemical DDT, banned in 1972, nearly wiped them out along with many other species of animals that are now frequently seen along the Gulf Coast and at Armand Bayou thanks to successful conservation efforts. In 2009 they were taken off the endangered species list. To learn more check out our Pelicans and Pirates Pontoon or Kayak tours happening this weekend.
Photo of colorful adult and darker juvenile brown pelican along with a red-breasted merganser taken by Stacy Holcomb

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Armand Bayou volunteers and generous sponsors turned it up for the Prairie Pandemonium.

We are truly grateful for all of the amazing volunteers who came out on Saturday for Prairie Pandemonium to plant over 3,000 native tallgrass prairie plants. We also want to thank our generous sponsors whose support made this important conservation event possible! Thank you H-E-B Our Texas Our Future, REI, Galveston Bay Area Chapter – Texas Master Naturalist, Wild Birds Unlimited and Bay Area Meat Market & Deli for making such a big difference! Please support these businesses and organizations to show gratitude for their support of Prairie Pandemonium and ABNC’s conservation efforts. 

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Gulf pipefish and juvenile bald eagle observed during ABNC Bayou Lab Class last week.

During an ABNC Bayou Lab class with San Jacinto College last week, we caught and released a beautiful gulf pipefish. It is a member of the pipefish and seahorse family. Males possess a deep ventral pouch for incubating eggs and developing embryos. The Gulf pipefish is a marine species that inhabits a variety of freshwater habitats including bayous, creeks and rivers. We also saw a juvenile bald eagle. Photos by Stacy Holcomb

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Amazing volunteer groups transformed Armand Bayou for Creepy Crawlers coming soon.

We are grateful for all of the amazing volunteer service groups this week who have helped us with several important projects! Celanese Corporation brought Halloween decorations and helped to decorate for our upcoming Creepy Crawlers. The Texas Conservation Corps a Program of American YouthWorks has been working hard to help with important trail maintenance. 

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Birding Armand Bayou’s monthly count reveals 46 bird species, including rare limpkin sighting.

Last Saturday Birding Armand Bayou held their monthly bird count at ABNC, they counted 46 species of birds and wouldn’t you know it, a limpkin was spotted the next day. Limpkins have only been found in Florida, but for the past few years or so they have been spreading throughout parts of the US mainly because of invasive apple snails. They also eat freshwater mussels like the ones we have in May’s Pond. Photo courtesy of Stacy Holcomb

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Armand Bayou’s Winter EcoExplorers learn the secret life of mammals, radical reptiles, and fantasy animals for fun and learning.

This winter break your kids could be EcoExplorers, learning about The Secret Life of Mammals, Radical Reptiles, and Fantasy Animals. Our Winter EcoExplorers blend nature exploration with active outdoor experiences under the guidance of knowledgeable camp counselors. #stemkids #wintercamp #STEM #outdoorfun

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Energy Institute High School students embarked on a day of adventure and learning at Armand Bayou Nature Center.

The Energy Institute High School field trip was a blast! Everyone had so much fun! We connected with nature by hiking through the riparian forest to Armand Bayou, dip-netted in the freshwater pond, caught butterflies and insects while prairie sweeping, met some prairie ambassador bison and learned about local reptiles and mammals.

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Dragonfly dominance, an unusual sight Armand Bayou as dragonflies outnumber birds.

Last week there were far more dragonflies than birds on the Bayou, hundreds mostly like these pairs. The female green darner alighted on a reed stalk to deposit eggs in the shallow, still water of a small lagoon while the male, attached to the back of her head, remains airborne in case they need to make a quick escape. Another pair of green darners, very attached to each other, launches after depositing eggs in floating vegetation on ABNC’s Bayou. Info and photos courtesy of Gary Seloff. 

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Armand Bayou getting down to the importance of Transect Monitoring with Diane Humes and dedicated volunteers in their prairie conservation efforts

We are truly thankful to Diane Humes for sharing her expertise during our recent Transect Monitor training! We are also very grateful to our dedicated volunteers who help us evaluate the success of our preservation efforts through transect monitoring of ABNC’s prairie. Volunteers count the number and diversity of the plants at various data collection points on the prairie and record them in a log with more than 20 years of data. ABNC’s stewardship team uses this crucial data to determine what should be planted in various sections of the prairie and what invasive plant species need to be eradicated.

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Video: Armand Bayou’s ambassador opossum chowing down.

It’s feeding time for Alice, ABNC’s ambassador opossum. She has limited vision and would not survive in the wild. Opossums are North America’s only marsupial. Areas with large opossums populations have less Lyme disease because they just love eating ticks.

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