Travis County is home to lots of amazing wildlife. In addition to the white tailed deer, opossums, raccoons, armadillos, skunks, and birds you may see near your home, the Texas Hill Country is host to a number of plants and animals found nowhere else in the world! Travis County and its partners manage the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve to protect these plants and animals native to the Hill Country of Texas.

Learn More about the Wildlife of Travis County

Golden-Cheeked Warbler

GCWA sidewaysThe golden-cheeked warbler is a small songbird about the size of a sparrow. These tiny birds fly to the Hill County to build nests and raise their babies in the spring and summer, and then fly south to Mexico and Central America to spend the winter. Fun fact: Golden cheeked warblers only build nests made of the shredded bark of juniper trees. That’s why these birds only live where large old junipers are found.

Black Capped Vireo

BCVI SandeeAnother Texas native songbird found near Austin is the black capped vireo. These songbirds also make the trip from the warmer winters in Central America to Texas each spring to build nests and raise their young. The black capped vireo builds its nest in low bushy trees and shrubs such as shin oak and evergreen sumac.

White-Tailed Deer

Texas has more white-tailed deer than any other state in the nation, and the Hill Country has more white-tailed deer than any other part of Texas. Fun fact: That’s why some scientists call the Hill Country the “Deer factory of the World”.

Nine-Banded Armadillo

The State Mammal of Texas is the nine-banded armadillo.armadilloThese armor-clad creatures are powerful diggers and are found throughout the Hill Country and across most of Texas. Though sometimes despised for eating the eggs of birds such as turkey or quail, scientists have learned that the armadillo’s diet is made up almost exclusively of insects. Fun fact: The armadillo has four babies at a time each spring, and all four are always identical!

Texabama Croton

One of the rare plants that Travis County works to protect is the Texabama croton. This small shrub has beautiful white flowers when it blooms in the spring.croton CUOne of the things that makes this showy plant so special is that the only other place to find this plant is over 1,000 kilometers (over 620 miles) away in the state of Alabama. Scientists are working now to determine just how these plants made it to Texas!

Tooth Cave Pseudoscorpion

Under the rolling hills of Central Texas exists a world of caves and springs that are filled with specialized creatures found nowhere else! One of these is the Tooth Cave Pseudoscorpion. Fun fact: These tiny creatures have lived in the dark underground world of the Texas Hill Country for so long, that they have lost the need for eyes. Though they only grow to be about the size of a grain of rice (about 4 millimeters), these tiny predators hunt small insects and catch them with their pincers.

sinkholeBarrScientists call the limestone caves and sinkholes with underground streams like those found in the Texas Hill Country karst, and animals that don’t have backbones are called invertebrates (which means “no backbones”). Because the Tooth Cave Pseudoscorpion has no backbones and lives in caves, they are sometimes called “karst invertebrates”.

Jollyville Salamander

The Jollyville Salamander is a relative of the Barton Springs Salamander that lives in Barton Springs Pool in Austin’s Zilker Park. Very little is known about these small amphibians that live in or around the springs of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve. If you look closely, you can see the gills that extend like feathers on either side of the salamander’s head. Most salamanders only have gills when they are young. Fun fact: Jollyville Salamanders keep their gills for their entire life. Because the springs where they are found sometimes dry up in the summer, scientists believe that the salamanders crawl into caves underground to keep their gills wet so they can breathe.

Animals that threaten native wildlife

MudPigThere are also animals that live in the Preserve that threaten our native wildlife. Fire ants sometimes eat the specialized creatures that live in our caves, and have even been known to attack baby birds. Feral hogs are wild pigs that uproot native plants and destroy fences. Feral hogs can also be dangerous to livestock and ranching operations. Brown-headed cowbirds are birds that lay their eggs in other bird’s nests. When the baby cowbirds hatch, they kick the other bird’s babies out of the nest. Travis County works to manage all the wildlife on the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve to reduce dangers faced by our native wildlife.

To visit the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, click here for information about Wild Basin Preserve. Wild Basin Preserve provides miles of hiking trails as well as numerous activities for the young as well as the young at heart.Deer silhoutte Travis County’s Hamilton Pool Preserve is another portion of the BCP that is open to the public. Be sure to watch carefully and listen when you visit these Preserves. If you are lucky, you might just hear a golden-cheeked warbler!

You can download a copy of a word-find game about the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve and the plants and animals that live there!
The next time you venture outside be sure to look around and think about the wildlife that we live with right here in the Texas Hill Country!

For more information about the plants and animals of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, visit the BCCP Species page.

Learn about an Eagle Scout clean up project.

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Contact Us

PO Box 1748
700 Lavaca street, Suite 540
Austin, Texas 78767
Phone: (512) 854-9437

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