Birding: Hummingbird Roundup

July 29th, 2014

Hummingbird watching.

Hummingbird watching.

This is Passport to Texas

While the mockingbird might be the official state bird of Texas, every July it’s the hummingbird that earns a place of distinction in the state.

08—July is usually the start of our hummingbird migration when we’ve got thousands of ruby throated hummingbirds heading this way from the northern regions.

Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Mark Klym coordinates the annual survey, the Hummingbird Roundup, in Texas.

07—The round-up really provides us with information about the hummingbird population here in Texas and gives us an idea of where they’re being found.

We’ve documented 18 species in Texas. While the bird count takes place year-round, the birds are more prevalent in the state from July to October.

19—This would be a good time to start looking at possibly increasing your number of feeders if you have a yard that is going to be actively used by hummingbirds…the best way to get hummingbirds in your yard is to prepare a good hummingbird garden. Lots of plants that will feed the birds, salvias, Turks cap, trumpet vine.

Take part in the Hummingbird Round-up and receive your own survey kit…find out how… when you log onto the Texas parks and Wildlife website.

That’s our show for today. For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti

Wildlife: Hummingbirds Return to Texas

July 28th, 2014

Female hummingbird at flame acanthus.

Female hummingbird at flame acanthus.

This is Passport to Texas

[SFX – hummer]

Summer is a great time for hummingbird viewing in Texas.

03—Obviously the places people see them most often is around feeders.

Mark Klym is in Wildlife Diversity and a hummingbird enthusiast. Attract hummingbirds to your yard with a hummingbird feeder filled with a solution of one part sugar to four parts water. Once you’ve installed a feeder,
Klym says to keep the contents fresh.

08—During the summer months you want to change that every two to four days. During the winter months, you might get away with four to six days, but certainly no longer than that.

If you’d prefer to see hummers in the wild, you’re in luck: we have eighteen species of the bird in Texas. But you have to know where to look.

18—If you’re looking on the wild, you’re going to want to look in areas where there are a number of flowering plants available. The do require shelter, so they’re going to be around evergreen or well-leaved trees – depending on the season. And they’re also going to be found where there’s water. Water is a critical element of their environment, and they’re going to be found where there’s water.

Find information about hummingbirds, and hummingbird festivals on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

That’s our show for today… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

August 21-23, 2014: Davis Mountains Hummingbird Festival – The “Hummingbird Capitol of Texas” will host 3 days of lectures, viewings, field trips and discussion on the hummingbirds found throughout the Davis Mountains. Various locations will be available for viewings.

September 18-21, 2014: HummerBird Festival Rockport and Fulton, Texas — One of the largest and most popular hummingbird festivals.

Birding: Gateway to Nature Appreciation

July 25th, 2014

Birding at Hornsby Bend, Austin, Texas

Birding at Hornsby Bend, Austin, Texas

This is Passport to Texas

Legendary Birder, Victor Emanuel, views birding as a gateway to nature appreciation.

10—Well, it’s the best way for people to get connected to nature, because birds are the most obvious part of nature visible to us. A lot of the mammals are active at night. But birds are here; they’re all around us.

Emanuel says it’s the fact that they are so visible that makes them interesting.

15—Birds are some of the most visible creatures around us. You have the song of birds, you have the motion of birds, the fact they can fly. A cardinal, a blue jay, a duck on a pond… they’re large enough and so they attract our attention in a way that smaller creatures don’t.

Victor Emanuel has spent a lifetime watching birds around the world. And while all birds are watchable, he says that doesn’t mean he likes them all.

17—I actually have a prejudice against introduced birds that are a problem, like starlings. They’re a beautiful bird, actually, with the colors on them in the sunlight. But they take over the nest of native birds, and throw out the young and eggs, so they don’t get to raise their young and eggs. But, yeah, they’re all watchable.

Find birding information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

That’s our show for today…we record our series at The Block House in Austin…For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Conservation: Tanksley Land Company

July 24th, 2014

This is Passport to Texas

A family ranch since the 1920s, the Tanksley Land Company’s goal is to leave their 25-thousand acre property in Far West Texas in better shape than they found it.

05— It’s all about water out here: preserving and directing it to your benefit.

1989 when Betty and her late husband Ben took over management, creosote and tarbush dominated the landscape; grasses and water were scarce.

16—Ben’s vision was to preserve water and to direct the water to the benefit of the ranch. He was building some small dams and
some large dams and did a lot of what we call divots. Little small defilades.

These methods supported better water infiltration and runoff capture, and also created numerous small oases of green grass and forbs for wildlife. Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist Mike Janis says the Tanksley’s innovative management helped them win a regional Lone Star Land Steward Award.

18—We’re recognizing the Tanksleys for this award not because they did a great job implementing lots of things that we recommended at Parks and Wildlife. The roles are really kind of flipped in this situation. We’ve been able to take things we’ve learned that Ben was willing to try and share that information with other landowners who are interested in accomplishing similar goals.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series and provides funding for the Private Lands and Public Hunting Programs.

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

Conservation/Food: Eating Bugs to Save the World

July 23rd, 2014

A handful of roasted crickets. Photo by Cecilia Nasti.

A handful of roasted crickets. Photo by Cecilia Nasti.

This is Passport to Texas

Experts predict the world’s population will increase to nine billion people by 2050. That’s two billion more mouths to feed. And Robert Nathan Allen says an eco-friendly protein to help nourish the masses is insects.

07— Compared to say a cow, where we can only really eat about forty percent of the cow, with insects; we can eat most if not all of them.

Allen founded the nonprofit Little Herds to educate the public about insects as a nutritious alternative food source. Insects are high in protein and rich in fiber and micronutrients. Currently 70% of agricultural land supports meat production, which limits the industry’s future growth.

15—So, with insects, we can raise them in a modular fashion vertically on a fraction of the land as traditional livestock, with a fraction of the water, with a fraction of the feed, and end up with more nutritional valuable protein.

It’s a huge leap from eating burgers to bugs. For the brave ones, Allen recommends obtaining edible insects from farms that raise them for human consumption.

11—That way we can assure that they’re raised in a hygienic, safe, clean environment. We can make sure that there’s no risk of diseases and parasites, and we can make sure tht they’re eating a clean, wholesome diet.

According to a UN report, over 2 billion people worldwide already supplement their diet with insects. Intrigued? Learn more about edible insects at

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