Archive for March, 2018

Join in the Great Texas Birding Classic

Friday, March 16th, 2018
On the lookout for birds during the Great Texas Birding Classic.

On the lookout for birds during the Great Texas Birding Classic.

This is Passport to Texas

During The Great Texas Birding Classic, birding teams raise money for conservation while they compete for bragging rights against other teams…if there are other teams.

If you wanted to know where I really feel like people need a challenge, I think the Panhandle. They want some competition up there.

Shelly Plante is Nature Tourism Manager for Texas Parks and Wildlife. While the coast hosts a multitude of birding teams during the classic, regions like the Panhandle barely have any, and they aren’t alone.

Far west Texas—they want some competition. The DFW area only has a couple of teams participating. They could use some great competition. It would be wonderful to see those areas grow by leaps and bounds this year, and to see a real shift in people seeing birdwatching as an activity that they can do with their friends and family in spring as the Birding Classic.

There are tournaments suitable for nearly every experience level. So, c’mon Panhandle, Far West Texas and DFW Metroplex, step up to the challenge and put together a team. You other regions, too. I’m not trying to bird-shame anyone, but you can all do so much better.

When you register, the fee you pay supports conservation, and you’ll have fun outdoors with friends and family. Doesn’t that sound better than watching The Real Housewives of wherever?

The Birding Classic is April 15 through May 15, and the registration deadline is April 1. Do it for the birds.

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

Sitting in Circles for the Birds

Thursday, March 15th, 2018
Members of a big sit circle.

Members of a big sit circle.

This is Passport to Texas

The Great Texas Birding Classic continues to attract seasoned and beginning birders to its flock.

It’s really crazy. We keep seeing amazing growth. I keep wondering when we might plateau, and it hasn’t happened yet.

Shelly Plante is Nature Tourism Manager for Texas Parks and Wildlife. The tournament had a growth spurt beginning in 2013 after it became statewide.

We had the largest participation in over ten years in that first year that we were statewide. And that was 58 teams. Since then, we’ve grown every single year; last year in 2016, for our 20th anniversary, we had 113 teams.

The money raised funds conservation grants. Birders have fun doing it, when they participate in various tournaments. One of the most popular is the Big Sit.

And it is what it sounds like. You are sitting in a 17-foot diameter circle for 24 hours (or parts of 24-hours), to see how many birds come through that area. In 2016 of the 113 teams that were registered for the Birding Classic, 40 of those teams were Big Sit teams. And they took place in every region of the state.

Register a team before April 1, at

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation supports our series and helps keep Texas wild with support of proud members across the state. Find out more at

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti

Evolution of the Great Texas Birding Classic

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018
2018 Great Texas Birding Classic Poster.

2018 Great Texas Birding Classic Poster.

This is Passport to Texas

Twenty eighteen marks the 22nd anniversary of the Great Texas Birding Classic. Shelly Plante, Nature Tourism Manager for Parks and Wildlife, has been involved for 21 of those years.

In the beginning, Plante says most participants were “hard core” birders. Since becoming a statewide event, she says it’s evolved into a tournament for everyone.

We have a lot of different categories. There are categories for beginners; categories for kids who are just getting started; categories families can take part in—or bird clubs can take part in. And so, I’ve seen this really huge growth in the generalist, which I think is fantastic. That’s who we would love to connect with nature. They may not have a connection. So, we’re hopefully making that connection for them with an event.

The Great Texas Birding Classic is April 15 through May 15; registration deadline is April 1st. Money raised through fees and sponsorships goes toward conservation grants.

The more money we raise through registration fees and sponsorships, the more money we are able to award to conservation grant projects throughout the state. So las year, we gave out 36-thousand dollars’ worth of grants. And, some of the winning teams got to pick which projects received that funding. So, it’s really a fun way to take part in conservation, and maybe even get to choose who gets those conservation dollars.

Put together a team and register before April 1, at

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

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti

City Nature Challenge Seeks Experts

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018
Upload images to iNaturalist during the City nature Challenge.

Upload images to iNaturalist during the City nature Challenge.

This is Passport to Texas

In about a month, competitors from around the globe will head outside with their smart phones to photograph the flora and fauna of their regions, and then upload those images to iNaturalist as part of…

The City Nature Challenge.

Marsha May is a biologist and challenge coordinator for the Austin region—one of seven TX regions involved.

And there are over 60 cities worldwide that are involved in this challenge.

April 27th—30th, participants worldwide will try to “out-document” their competitors, for bragging rights.

All that data is collected in iNaturalist, and it will be evaluated a week after the challenge is over.

Regions can win for most observations, verified species or members. May said last year’s event drew nearly more competitors than they had experts to verify the data.

We really needed more people to help with verifying the observations. That’s the call [to action] I would like to make. So, if you’re a herpetologist, a birder, a botanist and such—please, help us verify. Go to iNaturalis[.org] and look for the projects. You can go to any one of the cities and help verify these observations. Because, the more we get verified—that’s research grade observations—so those count more toward this contest.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

If You Could Talk to the Animals

Monday, March 12th, 2018
Bobcats serve an ecosystem function.

Bobcats are attracted to delicious sounds.

This is Passport to Texas

Kissing the palm of your hand sounds like what a kid might do to practice for their first lip lock. But it’s also useful for attracting wildlife…the four legged variety.

I can do that to a bobcat that’s sitting out there behind a bush at a hundred yards, and it’ll start him towards me almost immediately. It just sounds delicious.

Gerald Stewart is a consultant for Johnny Stewart wildlife calls. Gerald’s dad, Johnny, created the business, which featured recorded animal sounds.

Dad realized early on in the development of the business, that these sounds could be used by quite a wide variety of people. Photographers, nature lovers, bird watchers, hunters, researchers, or people that just want to simply show their grandkids the eyes of a raccoon coming through the grass at night…just for the joy of being able to see something wild, literally a few feet away from them.

Screech owls are common in residential neighborhoods, and are a good animal to call when you’re with children.

It’s easier to call screech owls with children around. Screech owls are a gregarious little bird, very social. And will put up with human presence. After a minute or two of being there, humans can just start talking and milling around and the little screech owl just sits in the tree.

Learn about native wildlife by logging onto the Texas Parks and Wildlife web site.

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