Thursday, November 4, 2010

ATX: Your poo promotes birdwatching. Indirectly.

Birdwatching at Hornsby Bend (Photo credit: Meredith O'Reilly)
Hornsby Bend, Austin’s premier birding location, is a biosolids recycling facility.  

Say what? Your beatific contribution to the sewer system via flushing toilet travels through pipes and goes to a wastewater treatment plant. After treatment, the biosolids (or, if you want to sound like a nerd, primary and secondary waste-activated sludges) go to Hornsby Bend, where they are manipulated again ultimately composted with yard trimmings collected from Austinites to make Dillo Dirt (Read page 3 of this doc for more details on how this is done.)  The liquid waste portion of the biosolids make outdoor ponds, whose waters irrigate onsite fields.  

The birds love Hornsby Bend.  They like the ponds, the drying basins, woods and fields:
The biodiversity is present both because of the nutrient rich biosolids treatment  processes used by the facility and because of the diversity of habitats at the site stretching along 3 miles of the Colorado River. (source)
We built it, so they came, enjoyed, and returned.  And now we can go watch them. Meredith at GreatStems wrote a very nice blog post on Honsby Bend's birdwatching and history.

If you haven’t had a chance to visit Hornsby Bend's neat avian-friendly ecosystem, you should fer reals go. 

Here are some visiting tips:

You can go by your lonesome or join the group activities as listed on The Dirt on Soil's calendar, which include:
  • A monthly bird survey every 2nd Saturday of the month @ 7am,
  • Birder led "field trips" every 3rd Saturday of the month, and
  • Eco-literacy day every 4th Saturday of the month @ 9am -1pm
    • 3 hours of outdoor volunteer work; 1 hour of ecological education
Also, Hornsby Bend is open daily to the public from sunrise to suneset.

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