Archive for the 'Birding' Category

Birding: Gateway to Nature Appreciation

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Birding at Hornsby Bend, Austin, Texas

Birding at Hornsby Bend, Austin, Texas

This is Passport to Texas

Legendary Birder, Victor Emanuel, views birding as a gateway to nature appreciation.

10—Well, it’s the best way for people to get connected to nature, because birds are the most obvious part of nature visible to us. A lot of the mammals are active at night. But birds are here; they’re all around us.

Emanuel says it’s the fact that they are so visible that makes them interesting.

15—Birds are some of the most visible creatures around us. You have the song of birds, you have the motion of birds, the fact they can fly. A cardinal, a blue jay, a duck on a pond… they’re large enough and so they attract our attention in a way that smaller creatures don’t.

Victor Emanuel has spent a lifetime watching birds around the world. And while all birds are watchable, he says that doesn’t mean he likes them all.

17—I actually have a prejudice against introduced birds that are a problem, like starlings. They’re a beautiful bird, actually, with the colors on them in the sunlight. But they take over the nest of native birds, and throw out the young and eggs, so they don’t get to raise their young and eggs. But, yeah, they’re all watchable.

Find birding information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

That’s our show for today…we record our series at The Block House in Austin…For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

TPW TV: Flocking with Friends

Monday, May 5th, 2014

This is Passport to Texas

We’re deep in the heart of the 18th Annual Great Texas Birding Classic, which began April 15 and continues through May 15. It’s the world’s biggest and longest bird watching tournament.

Martha McLeod’s fifth grade science class – called the Awesome Ospreys – participated in last year’s event. They set their sights on seeing 100 species during the sunrise to noon tournament.

30— I’m hoping these kids can get to 100. They’re the last team to compete [Where’d he go?]; being at the tail end of migration, it’s going to be tough [It just flew over there.] Right now, they’re neck-and-neck with my fourth grade team. [Yeah, the eastern kingbird up there. There’s an Oriole! Oh, I see a spoonbill, guys. Whoa, what is that? A white ibis. The red-winged blackbird.] We’re not just doing textbook knowledge; we’re doing real world learning. And, if you put excitement in it, and you show the relevance to their own life — you’ve got them hook, line and sinker.

Find out if Martha McLeod’s Awesome Ospreys reached their goal of 100 birds, this week in a segment 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.

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.