Archive for the 'Migration' Category

Your Own Backyard Offers Birding Opportunities

Friday, March 31st, 2017
Mockingbird photgraph taken from the roof of TPWD HQ building.

Mockingbird photgraph taken from the roof of TPWD HQ building.

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?

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.

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…

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. The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Birding Hot Spots During Spring Migration

Thursday, March 30th, 2017
Altamira Oriole

Altamira Oriole

This is Passport to Texas

Texans perk up as the monochromatic birds of winter give way to their colorful counterparts of spring.

Like the orange and black of the Baltimore Oriole, or the red and black of a Scarlet Tanager. So, all of a sudden you see this splash of color that you haven’t seen in months, and it’s very exciting.

Cliff Shackelford, Parks and Wildlife’s non-game ornithologist, says to witness these colorful migrants, location is only part of the equation.

Location is important, but if a storm hit – like a blue norther – in late April, that grounds those birds just like it would ground small aircraft. And so, they’re seeking shelter, and that could be your backyard.

Hot spots where you can view large concentrations of migratory birds are plentiful – the Texas coast is one of the best.

Places like High Island, Sabine Woods near Sabine Pass, Bleacher Park near downtown Corpus Christi, the South padres island Convention center. Birdwatchers go to those spots, typically in April and May. They can be very productive. Those are just a few of the really important hot spots we call “migrant traps” that are great for the birds and the bird watchers.

Find birding information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website. The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Monarch Malaise

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016
Monarch on milkweed.

Monarch on milkweed.

This is Passport to Texas

Habitat loss along its migration route may be one reason the Monarch butterfly is in decline. While feeding on nectar, Monarchs pollinate wildflowers along their route, which benefits our ecosystem.

There are two primary ways that habitat supports pollinators.

Johnnie Smith is Texas Parks and Wildlife Conservation Education Manager.

And one is, the adult pollinators oftentimes feed on nectar of flowers. So, flowering plants that are a food source for the pollinator is very important. But also, is the food source that the pollinator’s larvae rely on as they’re growing up and becoming an adult. And so, that is just as important as the flowering plants that support the adults.

For Monarchs, native milkweed is an important plant. By cultivating them in our yards, along with other nectar and larval plants, we can all play a part in their survival.

There is no effort that is too small to be counted worthy. And there’s no spot of land that is too small to contain pollinator habitat. So, we really want to empower everybody—that they can make a difference. Right where you stand. Right where you live—you can create pollinator habitat, and help turn around this negative trend with the monarchs.

Tomorrow: the Pollinator Bioblitz, an event to build awareness to help all pollinators.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Save Birds, Save the World

Thursday, August 4th, 2016
Birding in Texas

Birds and humans need the same things to live; spend time getting to know them.

This is Passport to Texas

The Convention for the Protection of Migratory Birds, signed in 1916, between the US and Great Britain–which signed for Canada–paved the way for conservation of all migratory birds.

All birds out there, except our upland game birds are covered underneath this act and this convention. It includes songbirds, doves, ducks, cranes… And it includes nearly all the birds that you see on the landscape.

Shaun Oldenburger is a migratory game bird biologist with Parks and Wildlife. Grassroots conservation efforts have been ongoing since the 19th century, but it wasn’t until the Convention, also known as the Migratory Bird Act, that meaningful protections were put into place.

A lot of these laws came forth in the 20th Century, but these ideas have been around a long time. A lot of folks now are engaged in bird conservation; it’s more out there. It’s more, say, in your face. But there are a lot of groups out there doing a lot of good work. And a lot of this is spawned from 100 years ago from this convention.

Oldenburger says birds enrich our lives. We share the planet with them, and as such, we also share that which makes life possible.

We depend on water. We depend on air. We depend on resources. The same as birds. So, if folks start thinking about walking out of their house in the morning and hear birds calling–they can make that connection: we are all here, we’re all depending on the same things, and birds play an integral part of our world.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Seasonal Bird Counts

Monday, January 4th, 2016
Birding at Resaca De La Palma State Park

Birding at Resaca De La Palma State Park

This is Passport to Texas

The Christmas Bird count, wraps up Tuesday. Volunteer counters add the understanding of wintering species, says biologist Marsha May.

16—Well, this is a great way to look at the bird populations in the winter time—the wintering species. And we’re able to look at changes through time; this count’s been going on since 1900, so we’re looking at lot of good data there.

Did you miss the Christmas Bird Count? Marsha says more opportunities are on the way.

33—There are other counts that look at spring birds, and then also at breeding birds in the summer. The North American Breeding Bird survey through USGS is another way of looking at breeding birds in the summertime. Then, local Audubon societies hold bird-a-thons in the spring, and that’s looking at all your migratory spring birds. So, there’s lots of things to do with birding, and we do have good birding information on our website. As well as information on the Birding Classic. So, if you really want to get competitive, I’d recommend you get out there and try the Great Texas Birding Classic.

The Great Texas Birding Classic Is April 15 through May 15 and celebrating its 20th year!

Find registration information for the Birding Classic, as well as videos about the birding on the Texas Parks and Wildlife YouTube channel.

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.