Winter Birding Hot Spots in Texas

September 29th, 2016
Green Jay /Chara Verde (Cyanocorax yncas)

Green Jay /Chara Verde (Cyanocorax yncas)

This is Passport to Texas

Birders in the know travel to south Texas in winter.

Wow. The Mecca down there is The Valley. And the three or four counties along the Rio Grande are just the powerhouse for winter birding in Texas.

Cliff Shackelford is a non-game ornithologist for Parks and Wildlife.

Birdwatchers from all over the country – really all over the world – are going there to see birds that are stacked up and wintering in big number, because it’s very mild down there. Cold snaps are very unusual and that’s why there’s a lot of agriculture – like citrus that doesn’t handle freezes very well at all. But, where there is remaining thorn scrub habitat or riparian woodland that can be just really excellent birding in the wintertime.

Shackelford says while the Rio Grande Valley is “the mecca” when it comes to sheer volume and varieties of overwintering migratory species in Texas – it’s not the only place.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series, and funds diverse conservation projects in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

A Good Time for Birding in Texas

September 28th, 2016
A fine vantage point for birding.

A fine vantage point for birding.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas is a birder’s paradise almost any time, but certainly in winter, and Texas Parks and Wildlife’s non-game ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford knows why:

We are on the receiving end for a lot of our continent’s breeding birds that have to winter in mild climates; water birds that can’t handle water that freezes over – and we don’t have a lot of that in Texas especially the farther south you get.

Migratory species begin flocking to Texas in fall, and come to be our winter birds.

In the fall we get a lot of shorebirds we don’t see in the summer months that have bred up in the tundra. Then come your woodland birds – a lot of the vireos, warblers, tanagers… start pouring through in October. A lot of the raptors [that don’t stay, they only pass through]; things like Broadwing Hawks, Swaisnons Hawks, Mississippi Kites –they’re pouring through up until October. Then the sparrows really pour in starting in October and November. So, really by mid-November, most things are in place – where they’re going to be – for the next several months.

We tell you where some of those places are on tomorrow’s show.

The Wildlife restoration supports our series, and funds diverse conservation projects in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Why We Hunt

September 27th, 2016

Waterfowl hunting.

This is Passport to Texas

Most of us hunt to put food on tables. It’s not that we don’t care about conservation or hunting heritage, we do—the money hunters spend on the activity pays for conservation. It’s just that our motives are more practical and philanthropic.

Let’s start with philanthropy. The nonprofit organization Feeding Texas oversees the Hunters for the Hungry program, which distributes thousands of pounds of hunter-donated venison to charitable feeding programs statewide.

This quality protein helps to nourish hungry Texans. Many of whom are children and elderly who would not otherwise have access to fresh meat. Learn more about Hunters for the Hungry at feedingtexas.org.

Now for practicality. We’ve wised up over the years and pay more attention to where our food comes from and how it arrived at our tables. The best way to know with certainty: harvest it for ourselves.

That’s why we hunt. To know where our food comes from, and to feed our families the healthiest free-range, sustainable protein possible. These animals lived good lives, and in death provide for us.

Hunting is about food culture, and has been since the beginning of humankind. Learning to hunt to feed ourselves and others is a worthy pursuit.

When you’re ready to learn, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife website, and search for mentored hunts.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Drawing for a Lifetime License

September 26th, 2016
Hunt and fish for the rest of your life for free.

Hunt and fish for the rest of your life for free.

This is Passport to Texas

The cost of a hunting or fishing license is money well spent. But, what if you could enjoy these activities for a lifetime—free? Enter the Lifetime License drawing from Texas Parks and Wildlife and you could find out.

A lifetime license gives a winner the opportunity to hunt and fish for the rest of their life without ever buying another license in Texas.

Marketing specialist, Nicole Goodman oversees promotion for the drawing, which previously took place in summer & fall. They’ve since added a third drawing, and moved them all to fall.

The deadlines to win are September 30th, October 31st, and November 30th. The winners will be chosen the following business day, and any entry that’s not chosen, will be automatically entered in the next drawing.

Entries are available where you buy licenses; the $5 fee goes toward conservation projects in Texas.

And that [enters you to win] a license that’s valued at eighteen hundred dollars, and you won’t have to buy another license ever again.

Seasoned outdoorsmen and women can extend the benefits to their kin.

Yeah, the really great thing that we’ve seen is a lot of our winners—if they’re older—they will transfer their license to their kids or their grandkids so that they have the opportunity to use it for years to come.

Find details on the Lifetime License Drawing on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife …I’m Cecilia Nasti.

TPW TV – Pecos Pupfish

September 23rd, 2016
Pecos pupfish

Pecos pupfish

This is Passport to Texas

In the unforgiving terrain of Far West Texas lies the Trans Pecos. Much of the aquatic life that’s adapted to survive in the waters of this harsh Chihuahuan Desert Region are found only here.

Because of lack of water and loss of habitat we have a lot of fish in West Texas that are threatened.

Such as the Pecos pupfish. Fisheries biologist, Ken Saunders works in West Texas monitoring the species.

So we have about three miles left of creek left in the whole state of Texas that has the Pecos pupfish in it. So we are going to be taking DNA samples and shortly we’ll be able to know whether we still have that fish here or not.

We join Saunders as he evaluates Pecos Pupfish during an upcoming segment of the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV Series on PBS.

The science we are doing is really important because it gives us an idea of how the population of fish are doing. Are they declining? We wouldn’t know that if we didn’t come out here quarterly, throughout the year to monitor the population.

The Pecos pupfish is just one fish…in one area…of one desert. Why does it deserve our attention?

It’s part of the natural system, and every time we lose part of our natural system we lose part of us. It’s our world, if we don’t take care of it what are we going to have left….

View the segment on the Pecos Pupfish on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS the week of September 25. The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.