Since its $384.1 million river improvement project in 2013, San Antonio has revitalized 13 miles of the San Antonio River by reintroducing native vegetation to improve the area's natural ecosystem.
"As a result of these efforts, wildlife, including a large number of avian species, and plant life native to south Texas, began to inhabit the area. This stretch of river runs through the heart of the city, connecting downtown to the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park, which along with The Alamo, is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site," says a Visit San Antonio representative.
The improvement project led to the Mission Reach Avian Study, which currently reports more than 63,000 birds from 197 bird species along the Mission Reach of River Walk, including rare and endangered species.
"For more than three centuries, the San Antonio River has played a crucial role in the survival of the city’s inhabitants, including the lives of plant and animal species that flock to its banks," a Visit San Antonio representative says. "In today’s modern world, a renewed focus on nature is of the utmost importance in San Antonio as evidenced through recently completed and ongoing projects."
The birding program was inspired by the desire to create a sustainable ecosystem for birds and other wildlife in a culturally significant area of San Antonio, which was previously largely uninhabitable by native species. "The area is also a major draw for the public, offering them a beautiful recreational space to learn more about the incredible ecosystem that surrounds them," says a Visit San Antonio representative.
The overall mission of this project is to enrich and sustain life in the San Antonio River Watershed, and residents and visitors are encouraged to get involved by tracking the flora and fauna that they spot along the Mission Reach using the iNaturalist app.
For visitors, the San Antonio River Authority occasionally offers public birding activities along the Mission Reach of the River Walk. Planners can check the Visit San Antonio online events calendar to see if any events coincide with their meetings. For private birding tours, groups are encouraged to contact the San Antonio River Authority, and advance notice and a private tour fee are required.