Archive for the 'Migration' Category

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.

Winter Hummers

Thursday, December 31st, 2015
Female Lucifer hummingbird. Photo credit: Mark Klym

Female Lucifer hummingbird. Photo credit: Mark Klym


This is Passport to Texas

Fall hummingbird migration peaked in mid September, and spring migration won’t peak until February. Until then what’s a hummingbird lover to do—just wait?

08—Not at all. A lot of people will take their feeders down in October, and that’s really one of the worst things you can do, because we get hummingbirds here in Texas all year round.

Mark Klym coordinates the Hummingbird Roundup, an ongoing citizen survey of backyard hummers. Some birds, he says, arrive in late summer and stay until spring.

09—They’re not going to go down into Mexico. And so, we can keep them fed and keep them sheltered, and if we have the right habitat, we can enjoy hummingbirds 365 days a year.

You may see ruby-throats and black-chins in winter, but the Rufus and Buff bellies are more numerous in the colder months, and if your landscape has plenty of trees and shrubs, you may see some this winter. Just remember to keep your feeders refreshed and thawed.

20—During the winter, it’s a good idea to increase the number of feeders that you have. Continue with that typical, one part sugar, four parts water solution—no red food coloring, please; that’s not good for the birds. If we get a snow, which has happened a few times—yeah, you have to go out there and brush that snow off and get those feeders opened up. The birds need them; as soon as they wake up that’s where they’re going to head—for those feeders.

Find more hummingbird information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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

Whoopers Flying into Texas

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015
Whoopers in flight.

Whoopers in flight.


This is Passport to Texas

A flock of 308 endangered whooping cranes lives in Texas from October through April.

06- We fully expect to see the first of our migrating whoopers come into Texas in mid-to-late October.

The birds migrate from their summer breeding ground in Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada to their winter home at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas.
Texas Whooper Watch coordinator, Mark Klym, says the species has rebounded from a low of just 15 cranes in the 1940s to about 600 today worldwide.

21-There are also two other flocks in the US. One that migrates from Wisconsin to Florida, and a reintroduced flock in Louisiana. We really need at least one more flock before we can consider it relatively safe to start considering down-listing them. Or, we need a thousand birds in the Aransas to Wood Buffalo
National Park flock.

While the majority of Texas cranes spend the winter at the refuge, some end up in other parts of the state.

13-In recent years we’ve seen them moving up and down the coast, as well as inland–as far as Wichita Falls for the winter. So, it is possible to see whooping cranes during the winter almost anywhere in the eastern half of the state.

Be on the lookout for whoopers, and if you see them, add your observations to Texas Whooper Watch. Find details in the Texas Nature Tracker section of the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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