Interview with Austin nature expert, Mikael Behrens

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Spotted Sandpiper
A taste of what Mikael can show you

At Everything Austin Apartments, we work hard to help people get around Austin and we like to think we do a good job.  We also want you to meet other people that can help you get around Austin.

Allow me to introduce you to Mikael Behrens. He is the man behind the Birding on Broadmeade blog. Using a friendly style and amazing photography, he will show you there is a lot more to nature in Austin than just walking around Town Lake.  He took some time to talk to us about his life and experience in Austin.

EAA: What is your goal for your blog?  Describe your ideal reader.

Mikael: Originally my goal was to increase awareness among my neighbors of the birds we have in the neighborhood. Now it has broadened a bit to show people inside the neighborhood and outside of it the diversity of birds and other wildlife that can be found in a relatively small suburban space, and to share the joy of local nature observation.

EAA: How did you get into birding/nature observation?  What would you recommend to people getting started?

Mikael: I earned a degree in computer science at the University of Texas back in the early nineties. And while I was working on it I started taking one zoology course per semester for fun. I seemed to have a knack for birds, and they are one of the most accessible forms of wildlife to see and enjoy. So birds stuck with me.

If you’re getting started with birding or any other kind of nature observation, find a green space near your home or your office and explore it
on a regular basis. The natural world is not separate from the city, and it can be incorporated into your weekly routine to greatly enhance your life. Find a local society or club that’s interested in what you’re focusing on, like the Native Plant Society or Travis Audubon. Or if you’re not focused on a particular area check out the Capital Area Master Naturalists.

Embrace technology. iNaturalist has been a wonderful learning and networking tool for my nature observation, and my iPhone might be my single most valuable observation tool out in the field. There are many internet-based citizen science projects like eBird offering opportunities to share your observations in a meaningful way. It’s a great time to be an amateur naturalist!

EAA: How can people get involved with your monthly Birding on Broadmeade walk?

Mikael: I organize the monthly walks by email, so send me an email and I’ll add you to the list. I usually try to lead a walk on the first Sunday of each month.

I also lead a monthly bird walk on Hill Country Conservancy’s Nalle Bunny Run Wildlife Preserve. These walks have been a great opportunity to promote this small local land trust and to share their beautiful little preserve next to the Pennybacker Bridge with the public. You can register for these walks at their website.

EAA: Are there any other resources you would recommend for local birders?

Mikael: We have an excellent local Audubon society — Travis Audubon. They have field trips going on almost every weekend, and even have classes you can take to learn birds and other wildlife topics. If you live closer to Georgetown, check out the Williamson Audubon Group too. On the southeast side of town we have the best place to find birds in central Texas, Hornsby Bend.

EAA: What advice would you have for someone that is moving to Austin?  Any tips?  Any things to look out for?

Mikael: Enjoy our fantastic green spaces, but watch out for the traffic!

EAA: What would you put on your Austin Bucket List?  What are the first things people should do/eat/see in town?

Mikael: This time of year go to the Highland Mall parking lot in the evening to witness one of the largest gatherings of Purple Martins in the state. It’s estimated to be near half a million birds and is more impressive than the Congress Avenue bats!

EAA: Thanks again for your time Mikael

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