Skip to main content

Welcome to Javier Salas, Houston Audubon's New Environmental Educator!

We're excited to welcome a new team member to the Education Department - Javier Salas! Javier considers himself an artist but holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from The University of Texas at San Antonio. There, he ran cross country and worked as an ecology summer camp counselor and in monarch butterfly conservation. Since then, he has volunteered and worked at three different wildlife rehab centers, including the Alaska Raptor Center doing public education programs. After relocating for seasonal work at Lake Houston Wilderness Park in 2020, he became enamored with the diversity of birds in Houston and eventually discovered the Houston Audubon Raptor Center. Now that he is a part of the Houston Audubon team, he is excited to get people passionate about conservation through birds. In his spare time, he runs his personal art business and goes on trail hikes throughout the Houston area.

Javier answered a few questions for us so everyone can get to know him a little better. 

1. What’s your job title?

I am the new Environmental Educator and Staff Naturalist for Houston Audubon. I am excited to be a part of the team!

2. What sort of duties do you have at work?

I work primarily at the Houston Audubon Raptor Center and assist with the animal care, education programs, and general maintenance. 

3. What’s the most exciting part of your job?

What is most exciting to me is that the Houston Audubon Raptor Center just opened to the public in 2019. I see a lot of potential for growth and public outreach, and I am looking forward to being a part of that process. 

Working with the raptors and being able to teach people about them is also one of my favorite parts of the job. Honestly, there is nothing else quite like interacting with a bird of prey and gaining their trust. 

4. Where did you work before this position?

Before coming to Houston Audubon, I was a Seasonal Naturalist with Lake Houston Wilderness Park. I was very fortunate to have work in my field during the pandemic. Before the pandemic, I had worked two jobs in Alaska, as an Avian Handler with the Alaska Raptor Center and a Tour Guide with the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary. 

5. What animal do you connect with the most?

Definitely a raven! What I admire most is their adaptability, cleverness, and instinctive curiosity. In many cultures and mythologies, ravens are revered for their intelligence and are even said to be the messengers of gods. How neat is that?

6. Are you a coffee or tea person?

Coffee, coffee, coffee. 

7. Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Definitely a night owl…this may also explain my preference for coffee.

8. Do you have any hidden talents or hobbies?

I have a small art business that I hope to expand into something greater very soon. Color pencils are my favorite media, but I also do digital art, ink, watercolors, and even wood carving! 

9. What is your favorite memory?

One of my favorite memories from high school was qualifying for state in both track and in art, all in the same week! Working with my first hawk, flying to Alaska, and all the moments I have shared with my family are also among my favorite memories. 

10. Do you have any personal goals for the future?

My biggest personal goal is to become a licensed falconer. Traveling for seasonal work made that goal impossible, but now that is something I am hoping to start as early as 2022. 

Please join us in welcoming Javier to the Houston Audubon family. We hope you'll have the chance to meet him at an upcoming program!


Popular posts from this blog

Pine Siskins and Salmonellosis - How to Identify and Prevent the Spread

Backyards across the United States have had an unusually high number of small, heavily striped finches, known as Pine Siskins, making a recent appearance. This year’s irruption of Pine Siskins has been one of the largest in recorded history! An irruption typically occurs during periods of food shortage in a species’ home range, causing them to spread out southward in search of resources. Pine Siskins, whose range is typically limited to the boreal forests of Canada and the northernmost U.S. states, faced an extreme shortage of conifer seeds, resulting in their takeover of bird feeders in a yard near you! Learn more about the irruption. Unfortunately, these birds are facing yet another threat across their irruption range. Salmonellosis outbreaks in Pine Siskins have been documented heavily in the Pacific Northwest, resulting in mass die-offs of this species and others that use feeders alongside them. This disease has now, unfortunately, made its way to Texas.  Salmonellosis is caused by

From Avian Absence to Bountiful Bird Haven: How One Yard Finally Got It Right

On Christmas Day 2018, my 7 year-old daughter joyfully opened a gift we had both long-awaited, that of a DIY birdhouse kit. I had envisioned a project we could complete together, one that would develop her budding interest in bird watching and give us something to do during the cold winter days ahead. Indeed, after applying a haphazard coat of brightly-hued paints - as only a first-grader can do - twisting in the tiny screws on every corner of the aviary abode, we hung 3 bird houses from our live oaks in the front yard. With noses pressed against the living room window, we eagerly anticipated a flurry of feathers and happy chirps. Yet, surprisingly, no birds arrived. A week went by, then a month, soon migrating flocks returned north and not one bird took an interest in the houses. Not a parent to shrug off a child’s genuine interest or attempt, I began wondering what could have gone wrong. I attempted to solve the problem with a trip to our local retail chain hardware garden c

Creating a Pocket Prairie in an Urban Backyard

In September of 2017, my girlfriend Amanda and I, along with our dog Scout, moved out of our apartment and into a house in Houston’s Sunset Heights. One of the selling points of this house was that it had a small backyard the three of us could enjoy together. It was a simple space comprised of zoysia grass, Japanese yew, and bamboo. In June of 2018, Scout was sniffing around our backyard and decided to eat a couple of Japanese yew berries that had fallen on the ground. This led to her getting sick and spending the next two nights recovering at a veterinary clinic. This is the event that made me start to question everything growing in our backyard. Why did we have grass, shrubs, and bamboo from Asia? Why had we never seen a butterfly in our yard? We decided we needed to make some changes. To begin my research, I read The Houston Atlas of Biodiversity by Houston Wilderness, Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy, and Native Texas Plants by Sally Wasowski and Andy Wasowsk