Archive for the 'Birding' Category

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.

Birding: Hummingbird Roundup

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Hummingbird watching.

Hummingbird watching.



This is Passport to Texas

While the mockingbird might be the official state bird of Texas, every July it’s the hummingbird that earns a place of distinction in the state.

08—July is usually the start of our hummingbird migration when we’ve got thousands of ruby throated hummingbirds heading this way from the northern regions.

Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Mark Klym coordinates the annual survey, the Hummingbird Roundup, in Texas.

07—The round-up really provides us with information about the hummingbird population here in Texas and gives us an idea of where they’re being found.

We’ve documented 18 species in Texas. While the bird count takes place year-round, the birds are more prevalent in the state from July to October.

19—This would be a good time to start looking at possibly increasing your number of feeders if you have a yard that is going to be actively used by hummingbirds…the best way to get hummingbirds in your yard is to prepare a good hummingbird garden. Lots of plants that will feed the birds, salvias, Turks cap, trumpet vine.

Take part in the Hummingbird Round-up and receive your own survey kit…find out how… when you log onto the Texas parks and Wildlife website.

That’s our show for today. For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti

Wildlife: Hummingbirds Return to Texas

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Female hummingbird at flame acanthus.

Female hummingbird at flame acanthus.



This is Passport to Texas

[SFX – hummer]

Summer is a great time for hummingbird viewing in Texas.

03—Obviously the places people see them most often is around feeders.

Mark Klym is in Wildlife Diversity and a hummingbird enthusiast. Attract hummingbirds to your yard with a hummingbird feeder filled with a solution of one part sugar to four parts water. Once you’ve installed a feeder,
Klym says to keep the contents fresh.

08—During the summer months you want to change that every two to four days. During the winter months, you might get away with four to six days, but certainly no longer than that.

If you’d prefer to see hummers in the wild, you’re in luck: we have eighteen species of the bird in Texas. But you have to know where to look.

18—If you’re looking on the wild, you’re going to want to look in areas where there are a number of flowering plants available. The do require shelter, so they’re going to be around evergreen or well-leaved trees – depending on the season. And they’re also going to be found where there’s water. Water is a critical element of their environment, and they’re going to be found where there’s water.

Find information about hummingbirds, and hummingbird festivals on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

That’s our show for today… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.
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August 21-23, 2014: Davis Mountains Hummingbird Festival – The “Hummingbird Capitol of Texas” will host 3 days of lectures, viewings, field trips and discussion on the hummingbirds found throughout the Davis Mountains. Various locations will be available for viewings.

September 18-21, 2014: HummerBird Festival Rockport and Fulton, Texas — One of the largest and most popular hummingbird festivals.