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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

TXST alumnus leads in bird walks and nature

Stephen+Ramirez+and+San+Marcos+bird+walkers+explore+different+bird+species+on+the+monthly+bird+walk%2C+Saturday%2C+July+1%2C+2023%2C+at+the+River+Recharge+Natural+Area.

Stephen Ramirez and San Marcos bird walkers explore different bird species on the monthly bird walk, Saturday, July 1, 2023, at the River Recharge Natural Area.

Right after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in geographic information science in the spring of 2011 from Texas State, Stephen Ramirez began leading monthly bird walks in September 2011 through the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance (SMGA).
With nearly 12 years of introducing various birds to hundreds of people in the San Marcos community, Ramirez’s love for nature and birds wouldn’t be without his time at Texas State.
“I started bird watching when I was a student at Texas State,” Ramirez said. “I was really captivated by birds and really soaked it all up and I felt compelled to share the experience with the community. When I first started, I would go drive around the state trying to see as many birds as I could. I learned a whole lot in the process so I felt like I had a lot of knowledge that I could share with the local community.”
As a student at Texas State, Ramirez started his bird watching journey through The Meadows Center and got involved in student organizations including the student chapter of the Wildlife Society. Through these resources and traveling around Texas, he acquired a newfound love for nature and the environment, one that he wasn’t able to fully grasp on a few camping trips as a child.
Now, Ramirez has found many different birds including painted buntings, ospreys, ladder-backed woodpeckers and so much more all in San Marcos. Ramirez also likes to venture out to different locations every bird walk, with some tours being in the River Recharge Natural Area, the Five Mile Dam, Blanco Shoals and other places.
With the opportunity to meet new wildlife and venture to new places in San Marcos, Ramirez is adamant about keeping the bird walk beginner-friendly with low expectations in hopes of starting new interests throughout the groups, whether it’s 10 attendees or 40.
“I always keep a beginner-focus,” Ramirez said. “I kind of assume that everyone has been out there for the first time. I also keep the expectations low because you can’t really force the birds to show up. Sometimes we’ll get really good looks at cooperative birds but sometimes you don’t really see much, so I make sure people don’t expect that much.”
Even with the low expectations, many members have been able to expand their love for nature through Ramirez’s bird walks.
Colton Robbins, a Texas State alumnus, has always had a heart for nature and the environment. After joining Ramirez’s monthly bird walks in 2015, Robbins grew to love it so much that he became a co-leader of the bird walks in 2017.
Robbins is content with being a helping hand, especially with his knowledge in bird identification as well as having a safe space to spread his love for nature.
“My love for nature has always been high, but the bird walks have been a great outlet for me to channel that excitement through,” Robbins said. “It’s always more fun doing what you love alongside others that are equally as excited, sort of like you’ve found your people who really get you.”
Along with being beginner-friendly, Ramirez finds the bird walks important because it created the community that Robbins now values. Not only has it created an inclusive community for birds and nature, but other skillsets could be mastered through these walks such as sound distinction of different birds.
“A lot of bird watching is actually just listening, it could be pretty difficult to learn a sound that you keep hearing and what’s making the sound,” Ramirez said. “So, being able to provide some sort of rudimentary and fundamental skillsets for people who maybe want to learn more about it or just enjoy the nature around them. That’s my main purpose in doing this.”
Regulars of the monthly bird walks have been able to acquire this skillset as well as acknowledge the importance of protecting nature.
Jennifer Bauerkemper, a San Marcos resident, has been on bird walks alongside her husband Tim Bauerkemper since 2018. Through all of these walks, she has overall been able to see the environmental value through the birds and nature she has discovered.
“I think it’s good because it helps you see the nature around us,” Jennifer said. “It really brings it to your attention and how we want to preserve the environment for all this nature that’s around us.”
Whatever the intention, for people that are interested in bird watching, Ramirez recommends looking in common outdoor areas first. For him, it’s always a delightful surprise on what he and other bird watchers may discover.
“Whether it’s just in your front yard or one of our green spaces, there’s so many birds around us all the time,” Ramirez said. “We’re certainly in a good place to observe, look at birds and find birds. You don’t necessarily have to drive around the whole state or do anything crazy like that.”
The San Marcos monthly bird walks occur every first Saturday of the month, rain or shine. To participate in the monthly bird walks in San Marcos, email Ramirez at [email protected] or follow the Facebook page “San Marcos Bird Walk.”

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