Birding: Making Backyard Birds Count

January 27th, 2015

 

Summer Tanager

Summer Tanager


This is Passport to Texas

The Great Backyard Bird Count provides citizens a chance to collect data to help researchers understand birds.

15—You’re basically counting all the birds you see at that spot on the planet; and the best part is it’s in your backyard. You’re starting to really pay attention to what birds are there in the wintertime. And, it’s just a lot of fun – it’s a learning experience for everybody.

TPW ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford, says the count, February 13 through 16, is like a snapshot of bird life.

08—You’re counting both the number of species and the number of individuals per species. So, you’re getting two different numbers. Both kinds of information are very valuable.

Register at birdcount.org or ebird.org. It’s free. Cliff suggests doing your “homework” before getting started.

20—Crack your field guide open and start learning what species are even possible for your area – which ones would be in big numbers and which ones might be something rarer that you would want to get a photograph of. So, if you had, say, a Rufus hummingbird in February that might be something you might want to get a picture of just in case.

By participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count, and sharing your observations, you help expand the knowledge base of all… in the fascinating world of birds.

That’s our show… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

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

Birding: Great Backyard Bird Count

January 26th, 2015
Cardinal in a backyard tree.

Cardinal in a backyard tree.


This is Passport to Texas

You want to take part in a citizen science project, but you can’t get away to spend time in the field. What do you do?

05—Count the birds that are coming to your feeder and in your backyard all day long.

That may sound random. Yet, Cliff Shackelford, Texas Parks and Wildlife non-game ornithologist, says the Great Backyard Bird Count, organized by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is far from random. They combine data submitted by citizens with other surveys, which helps scientists understand how environmental changes affect bird species.

15— And what’s really neat is after thousands of people do it, and in the country tens of thousands people, you see: Wow, look at where black capped chickadees are versus Carolina chickadees. And you can see where the invasion of – say – red breasted nuthatches are that winter.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is February 13 through 16; it’s easy to participate. Just choose a day and register your location on birdcount.org or eBird.org.

05—So, you just count the birds and submit online. It’s really easy and doesn’t cost anything.

Count for at LEAST fifteen minutes – but you can count longer – and keep track of the species you see and how long you watched.

10—And, you might have chores throughout the day, but you’re constantly walking by the window. Just look and see what’s out there, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be at your bird feeder; it’ can be at your birdbath; it can be in the trees in the backyard.

We’ll have tips on making birds count tomorrow.

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

Event: Children in Nature Conference

January 23rd, 2015

 

Getting kids outside.

Getting kids outside.


This is Passport to Texas

Ryan Spenser, manager of the Children and Nature Collaborative in Austin, says the outdoors is transformative.

12— Nature changes lives; I’ve seen it firsthand. And the outdoors provides a perfect opportunity to engage; it gets kids active – mentally and physically. It recharges them emotionally. It brings families together.

And April 7 through 9 the Children and Nature Network Conference takes place at the Lost Pines Resort in Bastrop, Texas.

20— Teachers can take a lot of wonderful things away from this conference; great lessons for inside the classroom and outside the classroom. Parents can learn a lot about how to get their children outside. And folks who work in the conservation field – folks who try to get more people outside – can take a lot away from it as well. The latest trends and opportunities and tools to help reconnect people to nature.

Join leaders from around the world to hear what others are doing to create nature-rich communities. Richard Louv, father of the children and nature movement, will be there.

13— After writing both The last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle, he’s set the tone for the past 10 years as to how this movement is going forward. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, and a great opportunity to see what the future holds for children and nature.

Registration is open and filling fast. Find registration information at passporttotexas.org.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

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

Technology: Tech and Nature Summit

January 22nd, 2015

 

Using GPS technology to enjoy the outdoors.

Using GPS technology to enjoy the outdoors.


This is Passport to Texas

For years, outdoor educators have condemned technology for the growing disconnect between children and nature. But, technology isn’t going away; so, they’re finding ways to embrace the pods the pads and the phones to get kids interested in the outdoors. In recognition of this, the first day of the Children & Nature conference this April is a Technology & Nature Summit.

11— Our kids are becoming more and more tech savvy, and it’s part of their interests. And so, as we try to get more kids outside, we’ve found technology has become a helpful resource.

Ryan Spencer manages the Children and Nature Collaborative in Austin, and says the summit will cover a lot of ground.

20— We’re going to be talking about technology and its role in reconnecting children to the outdoors. We’re going to be talking about action steps that participants at the conference can take to help get more kids outside in their own communities. And, we’re going to come together and take a look at what the role technology has – what role can it play – in reconnecting kids to the outdoors.

The Children in Nature Conference is April 7 through 9 at the Hyatt Lost Pines in Bastrop, Texas. Find additional information at passporttotexas.org.

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

Parks: New Camping Loop Encircles History

January 21st, 2015

 

Hiking at Mother Neff State Park.

Hiking at Mother Neff State Park.


This is Passport to Texas

On January 23 Mother Neff State Park, near Waco, celebrates its grand re-opening after completing the first phase of a construction and renovation project. Master Planner, Joelynn Barclay says among the new construction is a camping loop that encircles remains of a Civilian Conservation Corps encampment.

They had 40 or so little cabins for men to live in, and a cooking hall, and they had their own maintenance buildings, and they a well, and they had a shack to eat in. So, all of those sites were an archeological site. And at first we were going to put that behind the proverbial velvet rope: ‘Oh, don’t touch that. It’s an archeological site. It’s culturally sensitive.’ But, instead, some very forward-thinking work done by our cultural resources coordinator Diane Dismukes and Tony Lisle, said, ‘You know what? With a good enough study – because none of the buildings exist there anymore –we could study archeology that’s left there, and go ahead and fit a camping loop where that site was. That way, in the camping loop, when you’re sitting there at night around the fire, you can see the remnants of what the CCC left. And talk about how the people lived there and built the park down below, while you’re sitting and camping and having a great time. Talk about living history. Yeah, living in history.

There’s more information about the park and grand re-opening on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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