Archive for the 'Birding' Category

Event: Birding Classic Puts FUN in Funding

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015
Seen during 2008 Great Texas  Birding Classic. What will you see?

Seen during 2008 Great Texas Birding Classic. What will you see?


This is Passport to Texas

For the first 16 of its 19 year history, birders had to flock to coastal areas to participate in the Great Texas Birding Classic.

09— We’ve now gone statewide. So, this will be our third year to be a statewide competition, and people love it. They’re coming out to do all the different tournaments.

Shelly Plante is nature tourism manager for Texas Parks and Wildlife. The tournament has experienced 40% growth in participation since expanding statewide, and a 50% increase in funds available for grants.

23— The whole point of the event, and the reason this growth is so great, is all the money raised goes towards conservation grants for birding and birders. So, they can be enhancement grants, which can be boardwalks, or birding blinds. They might be acquisition grants, or restoration grants that restore native habitat that’s great for birds, or remove invasive species. So, it’s a really great win-win.

Since becoming statewide, Shelly Plante says they’ve seen greater diversity in habitat projects that receive funding.

11— Two years ago, we funded a community park project in Utopia, Texas – Central Texas Hill Country area – and that was our first project ever to not be on the coast. So, that was very exciting.

The event is April 15 – May 15. Registration ends April 1. Check out all the Great Texas Birding Classic tournaments and habitat projects at birdingclassic.org.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Event | Birding: A Bird Count for All

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

This is Passport to Texas

The Great Texas Birding Classic – the world’s biggest, longest and wildest bird watching tournament – welcomes birders of all ages and abilities to form teams.

07— We’ve added some really good entry level tournaments, so beginning birders can take part; it’s not just the hard core listers anymore. Anyone can do this.

Shelly Plante is nature tourism manager for Texas Parks and Wildlife.

20— I loved seeing more families involved last year; a family of four could go out and do a sunrise to noon tournament because it’s an all ages tournament. A group of co-workers and their kids might go out and do a Big Sit, because there’s an unlimited number of people that can be on that team – it’s not a three to five person team like some of the others. So, there really is enough variety that you can find something that fits your needs.

The deadline to register a team is April 1. And your team can compete any day from April 15 to May 15.

23— And you don’t pick that ahead of time. Some people have really flexible schedules, and so they don’t tell me until 24 hours out from their tournament day that they’re going to go birding. They wait, look at weather patterns, see when birding is going to be really good. If it’s a really good birding day, and there’s a cold front, and birds are everywhere – they can just pick on the fly: “We’re going to go tomorrow; that’s our day.” And they just shoot me an email. So, it’s really flexible.

Check out all the Great Texas Birding Classic tournaments and register your team by April 1 at birdingclassic.org.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Event | Birding: Great Texas Birding Classic

Monday, March 16th, 2015

The Great Texas Birding Classic


This is Passport to Texas

Calling all twitchers, listers and dudes…The Great Texas Birding Classic invites you to form a team to watch birds.

09— It’s a really great win-win, where people are able to go birding with their friends or family. And then they’re raising money for a really great cause: conservation right here in the state of Texas.

Shelly Plante, nature tourism manager, says teams go into the field and ID bird species from a checklist over the course of a few hours or even a few days. Tournament winners determine which avian habitat conservation projects receive preservation and restoration grants.

05— And the more habitat we’re able to preserve here in the state, the more birding opportunities there are going to be for birders.

Birders of all ages and skill levels that register at birdingclassic.org by the April first deadline may participate in this statewide series of tournaments.

22—Go online. Fill out your registration form. Pay online. And then you’re ready to go. Everything I do is through email: I’m going to email you updates; I’m going to email you how to submit your checklists to be in the running for the prizes; I’m going to let you know who won, where the award ceremonies are. So, it’s all done online to save on costs so as much of this money goes to habitat conservation as possible.

The Great Texas Birding Classic, April 15 through May 15, is for beginners and advanced birders. More on the classic tomorrow.

Funding for our series provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Birding: Chimney Swifts

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015
Cliff Shackelford focused on a roost-hole of a rare woodpecker in Argentina in 2013.

Cliff Shackelford focused on a roost-hole of a rare woodpecker in Argentina in 2013.


This is Passport to Texas

Chimney Swifts don’t hang around Texas in winter. These small sooty colored birds, with slim bodies and long, narrow, curved wings show up in spring and leave in fall.

05— All our swifts go to Latin America to overwinter; down to Peru.

Ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford, says we’ll see them again beginning mid-March when they start their return to the eastern two-thirds of the state. Before European settlers arrived, the birds nested in hollow trees, but now they nest almost exclusively in man-made structures like…well …chimneys.

13—I have a school that’s less than a mile away [from my home] that has an old smokestack. And they didn’t tear it down even though it’s not in use; and, that smokestack is very popular with the swifts in our area.

While the birds live most of their lives in flight, they do settle in at night. You’ll know you’re observing Chimney Swifts by the way they approach their roost at dusk.

18—A lot of times you’ll see them circle the chimney, and something’s wrong, and they don’t like it and they don’t commit. And, then, they come back and check it out again; they’re very hesitant. So, when they finally agree to commit, they turn their wings upward and just like a wad of paper, fall into the chimney.

Learn more about Chimney Swifts at chimneyswifts.org.

Funding for our series provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Nature: Becoming a Master Naturalist

Thursday, February 12th, 2015
Volunteer planting pine trees.

Planting pine trees at Bastrop State Park after the wildfire. Photo courtesy Texas Master Naturalist Facebook Page.

This is Passport to Texas

There’s a training program for people with a passion for nature. It’s called the Texas Master Naturalist Program.

19— The Texas Master Naturalist Program is a volunteer based training program; we develop a corps of well-informed volunteers that provide education, outreach and service around the state in the beneficial management of natural resources and the natural areas within Texas.

Mary Pearl Meuth is assistant state program coordinator. They train roughly 700 volunteers annually, and have sessions this spring in 16 of their 44 chapters.

15— Our curriculum that is used for the training, has 26 chapters in it. So, they march through those 26 chapters all with a large context of the state of Texas, but then developed even more within their local ecosystem.

Once trained, volunteers provide 40 hours of community outreach, and take 8 hours of advanced training annually. The program’s not just about taking or facilitating classes. It’s also about discovery.

08—Quite a few of our Master Naturalists have identified new species of plants or new species of animals located within the state of Texas.

Are you ready to help Mother Nature? Consider the Texas Master Naturalist program; training sessions starting soon. Learn more at txmn.org.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti