Archive for the 'Birding' Category

Cats and Birds Don’t Mix

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015
My indoor-only cat Gigi staring out the window at birds, wishing they were in her mouth.

My indoor-only cat Gigi staring out the window at birds, wishing they were in her mouth.

This is Passport to Texas

Pet cats are a pleasure until they leave a half-eaten bird on the welcome mat.

02—You can’t take the killer out of a cat.

Ornithologist and cat owner, Cliff Shackelford, says cats always follow their natural instincts.

05—Even a well-fed cat is going to still kill things, and it won’t even eat it; it’s very wasteful.

Cats take a big bite out of bird populations annually, which is why they’re better as indoor-only pets.

11—The estimate is in the millions of birds killed per year in the US by cats. And that’s feral cats and pet cats combined.

Cats are not bad; they’re simply out of place in the natural environment. And, bird-loving cat owners sometimes unwittingly enable their outdoor cat’s brutish behavior.

17—Sometimes we encourage them by putting the feeder a little too close to the shrubs, and the tall grass, where the cat can hide in to pounce on the bird at the feeder. So, you want to make sure you keep your feeders away where the cats can’t get to the birds, or the birds have a chance to flee.

Not convinced it’s best to keep kitty inside? Well, animal experts agree that indoor cats have better, longer lives.

13—If you love your cat keep it indoors; it will live longer, it won’t fight with other cats, it won’t get run over. So, I have cats and they stay inside. They like to look at birds; they just do it on the inside of the glass—looking out—like I do.

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

Save Snags for Wildlife

Friday, July 31st, 2015
Dead standing tree, or snag, serves as habitat for wildlife. Image courtesy University of Missouri Extension.

Dead standing trees, or snags, serve as habitat for wildlife. Image courtesy University of Missouri Extension.

This is Passport to Texas

A snag is a standing, dead tree.

08— Most homeowners don’t like them because they can be a problem if it’s about to fall on the house, or the car, or the playscape.

Texas Parks and Wildlife ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford, recommends removing snags that pose risks to safety. However…

13— If that dead tree is not going to fall on anything—it’s full of life. It’s where the woodpeckers are feeding because there are beetles therein; it could be where the owl is going to perch that is going to eat the rodents on your property.

Cliff shares how he handled two dead trees in his yard.

17— We measured how far they were from falling on anything—like the house. So, one of them was 21 feet from the house; I made them cut it down to 19 feet. So, that way, if it fell over, it wasn’t going to be able to even jump that extra two feet and hit the house.

Cliff Shackelford says his reward for sparing the snag is great wildlife viewing and extra money in his pocket.

14— When we left that trunk of the three—that 19 feet—we saved money. Because, that’s the heaviest part of the tree to haul off. So, we saved several hundred dollars by just leaving that 19 foot of the trunk; and the wildlife love it.

Plus, he chipped the broken limbs, mixed them with horse manure, and once it aged, had garden mulch. Find more wildscaping tips on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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

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

Wildscaping for Wildlife

Thursday, July 16th, 2015
A relaxing wildscape for wildlife and humans.

A relaxing wildscape for wildlife and humans.

This is Passport to Texas

Putting out feeders is one way to attract wildlife to your yard. A better way is to create a wildscape.

04-What a wildscape is, is landscaping for wildlife.

Ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford, says this includes native plants that provide food and shelter; most urban yards, however, traded native habitat for lawns.

18- So, any little help you can [give] by putting in a wildscape really helps. And even if you don’t have a yard, you can do a wildscape on your patio with pots. I have seen hummingbirds go up to the 6th floor balcony of condos where someone has showy plants that say, “hummingbird come up here.”

A variety of berry and nectar producing plants will draw wildlife to your yard–or balcony.

17- You want to always stick to natives because they’re acclimated to the soil and the weather and the rainfall that you’re going to give them. And then, you want to make sure that they have some value to wildlife: that they’re going to give you the nectar to attract butterflies; they’re going to have
berries at the right time when the cedar waxwings come, and so forth.

Fall is the best time to plant native trees, woody shrubs and perennials. But you can start planning your wildscape now.

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

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

The Women Who Saved Migratory Birds

Thursday, July 9th, 2015
The woman behind the gun, by Gordon Ross, 1873-1946, artist. Library of Congress.

The woman behind the gun, by Gordon Ross, 1873-1946, artist. Library of Congress.

This is Passport to Texas

At the turn of the 20th century fashionable women wore hats decorated with feathers, wings and even entire taxidermied birds.

08- What began to happen was, a huge amount of hunting of specific migratory birds for their plumes–and their plumes only.

Urban Wildlife biologist, Kelly Simon, says unregulated market hunting to meet the demand led to destruction of whole bird breeding colonies.

13- And people began to realize that the effect of this unregulated taking of wildlife was putting a lot of pressure on the natural populations of these animals. So, they were declining at an alarming rate.

In 1896, after reading an article describing the plume trade, Boston socialite Harriet Hemenway, convinced women of social standing to stop wearing feathered hats, and to join the society for the protection of birds. Their efforts led to The Migratory Bird Act of 1918, which outlawed market hunting and interstate transport of birds.

09- We decided it was important for us to have wildlife as a resource that was available to everyone: to feed their families, to enjoy, to watch.

Other conservation laws joined the Migratory Bird Act, including the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937, whereby hunters asked Congress to impose an excise tax on the sale of firearms and ammunition products to help fund wildlife conservation in the US.

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

Birding Classic Winners Fund Conservation

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015
Black-capped Vireo

Black-capped Vireo

This is Passport to Texas

Who would pay an entry fee to compete in a tournament in which the winners must agree to give away their prize money? Birders: that’s who. More specifically, teams of birders that take part in the Great Texas Birding Classic.

15-This year we raised $25,000 for conservation grants. And those will be given as a 10-thousand dollar grant, and three 5-thousand
dollar grants. So we’ll give four grants total throughout the state of Texas. And this is what teams are participating for: winning teams are who get to select what projects get funded.

Shelly Plante coordinates the event, and says it’s a win-win for birds and birders. Birding classic winners fund habitat projects that, in turn, create better birding opportunities for everyone.

04- That’s their privilege, that they’re vying for the chance to pick the project.

In the 19 years of the tournament, winning teams have donated more than eight hundred and forty-four thousand dollars to habitat projects throughout the state.

18- These grants have definitely gone to some well-known projects for birders. And if you go to birding hot spots throughout the state, you’ll see that birding classic money has been spent at many of these areas. From High Island Sanctuaries to Pakery Channel near Corpus Christi in the Coastal Bend, at Estero Llano Grande State Park.

Find out what birds the Great Texas Birding Classic teams saw this year, who won, and which projects the winners designated to receive grant money when you go to

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