Local citizens have a chance to spot a rare endangered bird newly returned to Texas.
A pair of golden-cheeked warblers were spotted in Cedar Hill in Dallas. These birds were spotted within the Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center.
This marks the first time this bird was spotted in the area in roughly two decades, according to NBC DFW.
Golden-cheeked warblers are a species of bird indigenous to Texas. The bird comes to Texas to breed in March and leaves in June to spend the winter months in Central America. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) reported that of the 360 bird species that breed in Texas, this is the only species that exclusively nests in Texas.
The bird typically inhabits the Edwards Plateau.
According to TPWD, the bird became endangered in May 1990 due to habitat disruption as a result of juniper and oak woodlands being cleared for development and crops. Flooding from the construction of lakes also removed habitats.
Golden-cheeked warblers then became one of the eight endangered species to be protected by the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan.
Austin officials report that 1,140 acres of the Bull Creek Nature Preserve were acquired for the specific purpose of protecting this bird.
While it is unclear as to why these birds have appeared in North Texas, officials and citizens hope that the appearance of both a male and female could reinvigorate the species. Julie Collins, director of the center, told NBC DFW that she hopes more sightings will come.
Following the sighting, the center encouraged citizens to reach out to their local members of the House of Representatives to vote against House Bill 2239. This bill would effectively remove protections for the Ashe juniper tree, in which the golden-cheeked warbler is known to make its habitat.
“Eliminating the ability for local government to protect against cutting Ashe juniper would devastate our Hill Country and habitat for this endangered species,” said the organization on its website.