Archive for the 'Birding' Category

Birding: Share Sightings on eBird

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Bird watching

Bird watching



This is Passport to Texas

If bird watching is your passion, consider sharing your sightings with the world on eBird

03— That the Cornell lab of Ornithology sponsors.

Cliff Shackelford is Parks and Wildlife’s non-game ornithologist. With spring migration underway, who knows what you’ll see in the next few weeks.

26— And you can easily – on your smart phone or your computer – enter your sightings. You can even start with eBird by setting up your yard as a hotspot or a patch that you frequent. And it’s already in the system, and then all you have to do is you go and say, ‘Okay; it’s April 27th, and we had a black-throated green warbler, and two Tennessee warblers, and a chestnut sided warbler. And other people can see that and get pretty excited.

Of course if the hotspot is, say, your backyard, you may not want strangers walking up to your fence line with binoculars. You can be somewhat vague when inputting the location of your sighting, and still provide meaningful information to your fellow birding enthusiasts.

15— If you’re worried about people finding your secret patch, you can make it more of a broad brushstroke on the map, but still submit the data so people can say, ‘Wow. That was Travis County and they had all those great birds.’ So eBird is a real good tool.

Find a bunch of birding information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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

Birding: Field Guides

Monday, April 7th, 2014

On Galveston Island

On Galveston Island



This is Passport to Texas

Before long you’ll see treetops dotted with color. Flowers? Nope. Feathers! Feathers of migrating bird species stopping over in Texas. To know what you’re seeing, you’ll need a good field guide.

17— There are so many really good field guides out there. I always like to recommend the ones that cover the whole country, because that way you just spend $20 or so, and you’ve got a book that’s great for any trip, when you go visit California to Florida to New York or here in Texas.

Cliff Shackelford is Parks and Wildlife’s non-game ornithologist.

26— So, I really like the National Geographic Society’s Field Guide to the Birds of North America. The Sibley guide is very good. The Roger Tory Petersen guide is very good. And the Golden Guide to Birds of North America. So, there’s really three or four. And the neat thing is, is to buy more than one; have one in the car, have one at home, and have one at the office. That way, you see different depictions of the birds, and then wherever you are that book is going to be at your fingertips.

Find birding information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

10— We humans – we like to watch reality TV. You can have that experience out in your yard or at your local park, just looking to see what’s going on in the life of a bird.

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

Wildlife: Working with Wildlife Rehabilitators

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Red-tail nestling

Red-tail nestling



This is Passport to Texas

Spring is in the air and so are some baby birds as they prematurely exit their nests. If you find one grounded in your yard, resist rescue. The parents may be nearby.

04— Mom and dad know how to raise baby birds a lot better than we do.

If the bird is a featherless nestling, return it to the nest. If it is a feathered, yet flightless fledgling, it may be under mom and dad’s supervision. But if parents are absent, call a rehabilitator.

20—You would work with that person on trying to get the bird to them. Keep in mind the rehabilitator’s busy 24/7 tending to the wildlife they have – so don’t expect them to come all the way to you. So you should probably make the point of, ‘Okay. I’m committed to this; I’m going to see it through. So, I’m going to drive the bird even though it’s an hour away to the rehabilitator.

Rehabilitators are not evenly distributed, and the nearest one might be a two hour drive away, and Cliff says rescuers need to be prepared for that.

20— And we have on the Parks and Wildlife website, a list of the licensed rehabilitators in the state. That is something that has to be permitted. You have to have state and federal permits to be a rehabilitator. You don’t just take it down the road to grandma and hope that she can do it, because the reason they’re permitted is they have to go through training, and they have to have the right facilities to be successful.

Find that list of wildlife rehabilitators listed by county on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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

Recreation: Calling Critters at Night

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Eastern Screech Owl, Image TPWD

Eastern Screech Owl, Image TPWD



This is Passport to Texas

Wildlife viewing at night presents a challenge. I mean, it is dark, after all. Yet, some species become more vocal when the sun sets, and will “talk to you” and even come into view if you know how to speak their language. State park interpreter, Kelly Lauderdale, has a few tips for enticing wildlife to come out of the shadows.

There are apps you can download for free or for minimal cost – like Audubon Reptiles. I use it for my night hikes to play those calls and to identify those different calls. Visitors can easily use those themselves. And this is what I do on my hike: I play the call, and do it for a little while and see if anything answers.

If using a recorded call – animals might call back – but does that ever draw the animals to you? And if it does, what should you
do?

I have had success with calling in an eastern screech owl. So, I play the call, it answers back, and it comes in. If you’re lucky you may be able to see the full owl sitting up in the tree talking to you. In that case – enjoy it! Don’t shine your flashlight up and blind him or her. Just sit and listen and enjoy and then go on.

State parks frequently offer guided night hikes. Find one near you on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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

Birding/Wildlife: Where to See Migrating Birds

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

On the lookout for migrating bird species.

On the lookout for migrating bird species.



This is Passport to Texas

The Texas coast attracts a wide variety of species of birds during spring migration. But what if you live inland and don’t have plans to visit the coast?

07— Folks that are inland can probably scout and look for big groves of trees and watch the weather.

Cliff Shackelford is Parks and Wildlife’s non-game ornithologist.

23—I’m here in Nacogdoches, and we have a place in town called Pecan Park – it’s right next to Stephen F. Austin State University – and it is a migrant trap. So what I do is I look at the weather; if it rained the night before during a window of time when I know birds are passing through, that would be late April, early May, I would immediately get out there at eight in the morning and see what’s there.

Inclement weather grounds birds as it does some aircraft. Shackelford said a location with large trees and an open understory is ideal for birders to glimpse migrants high above in the canopy. Of course, if you want to encourage migrants to visit your backyard…

26— Provide a wildscape; that’s landscaping for wildlife. And in that you’ll start to see that ‘hey if I want berry-eating birds like tanagers and grosbeaks and buntings, I should put some of these berry-giving shrubs and trees out. If you’re wanting to attract fly-catching birds, then just having a wildscape means you’re going to have a lot of insect fauna – flies and bees and things like that – that a lot of birds feed on.

Find wildscaping and birding information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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