Archive for the 'Birding' Category

Birding/Conservation: Bird-Friendly Coffee

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Bird Friendly  Coffee Seal

Bird Friendly Coffee Seal



This is Passport to Texas

Coffee is an agricultural crop that thrives in the tropics.

14—These areas oftentimes are coincident with biodiversity hot spots; that is, areas of really high biodiversity, whether in birds, or insects, amphibians—what have you.

Dr. Robert Rice works with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, which certifies coffees “Bird Friendly” when growers meet certain stringent criteria. Studies suggest shade grown coffee offers the greatest benefit as habitat.

15—Where coffee still is managed with a shade cover of the kind that we like to see and have defined with “bird friendly” criteria, then coffee oftentimes is some of the last remaining canopy cover—even though it’s not forest—it’s acting very much like a forest.

With habitat loss from deforestation, shade grown coffee estates serve as refuge for neo-tropical migratory bird species that travel through Texas, including the Black and White Warbler, the Baltimore Oriole, the Cerulean Warbler and others.

15—So, they just hang out there. They might be running around with mixed species flocks, and trying to stay alive and ultimately fatten up before they make the trip back north again. So this quality habitat becomes quite important for them in terms of making the trip back.

So next time you order a cup of coffee, you might ask your server if it’s for the birds.

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

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

Wildlife Research: Banding Mourning Doves

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Mourning dove in Texas

Mourning dove in Texas



This is Passport to Texas

Mourning doves are the focus of an ongoing, nationwide banding study.

17—We’re banding mourning doves to determine harvest rates or percent of fall population taken by hunters. We’ll also determine survival rates, and where they go, and when they get there and when they leave.

Jay Roberson, wildlife research supervisor, said returned bands also help estimate population size – which ties directly into the national harvest strategy. He invited me to observe as he banded doves.

07—And we’re going to go and take some birds out of the traps and see what we’ve got and put the right band on the correct leg.

The trapped bird flapped excitedly as we approached. Jay covered the cage with an old blanket to calm the animal. Taking it from its cage, he brought it to a picnic table for banding with a small silver ring that fit easily around the bird’s leg.

14—Those are the bands for the adults and the unknown age birds. Now I slip the open band in the pliers over the lower leg. And now I’m going to crimp that pliers down until it closes.

After Jay determined the animal’s age, he transcribed the number of the band, the date and location into a book, and then released the bird.

If you harvest a banded mourning dove, report it by calling the number on the band. The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program program supports our show and provides funding for the Private Lands and Public Hunting Program.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

TPW Magazine: 12 Birds Every Texan Should Know

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

House Sparrow male sitting on snow-covered hedge, Texas

House Sparrow male sitting on snow-covered hedge, Texas



This is Passport to Texas

Texas Parks and Wildlife non-game ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford, compiled a list of 12 bird species he thinks every Texan should know.

10— No two experts or seasoned veterans in this field are going to come up with the same 12 birds. I’m sure people are going to go: Why
didn’t he pick this? Why didn’t he pick that?” Well, it’s just personal preference.

In addition to personal preference, birds made the list based on questions he receives from the public about unfamiliar species they see.

22—Yeah. And then, the other thing I did is I thought about species that have statewide ranges that you could be in just about any corner of the state and see. Of course, some of these are wetland occurring, and if you’re out in the very dry parts of West Texas, you might not see them; but eventually you’re going to cross a creek or pond or something and potentially see a Killdeer or a Great Blue Heron.

Killdeer and Great Blue Heron are on the list of 12, which is in the August / September issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine. The Northern Mockingbird, Red-tailed Hawk, Barn Swallow, Turkey Vulture, Cattle Egret and others also made the list — including the house sparrow, which is a non-native species.

10—And it’s not even a true sparrow –it’s a weaver finch—and it’s in a totally different part of your bird book; that’s why I put that one in there. It’s just so atypical for a sparrow.

Find the article Twelve Birds Every Texan Should Know by Cliff Shackelford in the August/September issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

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

Birding: Know Your Birds

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos

Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos



This is Passport to Texas

Some bird species in Texas are ubiquitous – but that doesn’t mean we notice them.

17—Ubiquitous simply means they’re all over the place. We might tune them out as just like background noise; we don’t really look at them. But once you start tuning in and really looking at them you’re like, what is that? I’ve never seen that. But, you know, it was always there. You just didn’t look.

Non-game ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford, compiled a list of 12 such species he says every Texan should know.

19—This arose from questions over the years that I’ve received about, “Hey, what’s that dark duck we see when we drive over the ridge?” Or, “What’s this weird striped bird at our bird feeder?” And when you get that kind of call over and over and over, you realize there are some really common birds that people don’t know what they are. So, that’s kind of how I generated that list of twelve.

Find the list in the August/September issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine. And while Cliff says there’s no order to the list, a special species takes the number one spot.

05—I had to start the list with our state bird of Texas, which is the mockingbird.

Find the article Twelve Birds Every Texan Should Know by Cliff Shackelford in the August/September issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

Tomorrow, some of our other feathered friends that made the list…and why.

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

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

TPW TV: Purple Martins

Thursday, July 31st, 2014


This is Passport to Texas

Andy and Julia Balinsky are landlords in Austin… and their tenants are a colony of purple martins.

02—They are the largest North American swallow.

Most swallows build their own nests, but purple martins prefer existing structures in which to raise their young; this makes them increasingly reliant on people like the Balinskys. Yet, this bird/human dependence is not new.

08— Native Americans put up gourds [for the birds] long, long ago. And this bird associates safety with humans.

The colony of purple martins is in good hands with Andy and Julia, who perform regular maintenance on the nest boxes for the birds’ health and safety.

05— We have to clean them out. We have to purchase new structures from time-to-time and [do] some maintenance.

The couple’s job also involves evicting unwanted tenants like house sparrows, which often hijack martin nests.

08— They’re pretty nasty. They’ll go in and peck the purple martin eggs; they’ll be mean to the babies. It’s bad news, so, we discourage them from being here.

Get to know the Balinsky’s and the birds in a segment airing this week on the TPW PBS TV series. Check your local listings.

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

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