Archive for the 'Wildlife' Category

Attracting Hummingbirds

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015


This is Passport to Texas

If you’ve never seen a hummingbird in your part of Texas, it’s not because they aren’t around.

10—There’s not a county in Texas that can’t see at least two species of hummingbird. In fact, there’s not a state in the United States—with the exception of Hawaii—that cannot expect to find at least two hummingbirds.

Okay, maybe that is not a lot of hummers, but they are out there. Mark Klym coordinates the Texas Hummingbird Roundup for Texas Parks and Wildlife. He says Texas has 18 species of hummingbirds, and one region boasts the most.

07—Certainly the greatest variety would be in the Davis Mountains area. The Davis Mountains and the Chisos Mountains—out in West Texas.

If you want to attract hummingbirds passing through the area, you could put up feeders, but Klym says there is a better way.

14—That feeder, even in a good garden, is nothing more than a fast food stop. You want to provide plants that these birds can go to for nectar. But also, you want to provide plants that will attract insects, because these birds are heavy insect eaters.

If you do put up a feeder, the nectar recipe is as follows: one part regular table sugar to four parts tap water. Use very warm water (not hot) right out of the tap. Stir briskly to dissolve the sugar and you’re done. Let it cool before setting out a feeder. Change the mixture every four days and never use food coloring.

That’s our show… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Springtime is Watch out for Snakes Time

Monday, April 27th, 2015
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

This is Passport to Texas

Now that spring is here, you know you’ll be spending more time outdoors. And, when you do, my advice: watch your step…literally.

07—Probably most people who spend any amount of time hiking in Texas have been within arm’s reach of a diamondback and never knew it.

Andy Gluesenkamp is a herpetologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. Don’t let what he just said about the big, scary venomous Western Diamondback Rattlesnake — the deadliest snake in North America –keep you locked up indoors.

07—Diamondbacks would by and large much prefer to avoid contact than get in some sort of fisticuffs with a large animal like a human.

These snakes play defense. They usually hang out in the vicinity of fallen logs, brush piles, and rocks. If they think you don’t see them, they’ll lie perfectly still and let you proceed on your merry way. They don’t court trouble. However…

14—If they feel threatened by you, the first thing that they’ll do is buzz that rattle. On rare occasions when somebody reaches their hands into a crevice, or is picking up firewood and grabs a snake or steps on a snake—then they’re going to react violently. And that’s when people tend to get bitten.

You know what you have to do. Find more information about snakes on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Website.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series and works to restore native habitat in Texas.

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

Wildlife: Bats and Bridges

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015
Bat watching in Austin

Bat watching in Austin

This is Passport to Texas

When it comes to living arrangements, bats are adaptable. In Texas, for example, millions of Mexican free-tailed bats live comfortably in crevices under bridges.

06—We know from our studies of bats that there’s a very high percentage, especially in Central Texas that, if you build it they will come.

Mark Bloschock, retired from the Texas Department of Transportation as a special projects engineer with the bridge division, and earned the moniker “Batman of TxDOT” due to his passion for the mammals. He said to accommodate bats’ needs he had to “listen” to them.

18—Bats can’t speak to us in English, so they can’t tell us whether this housing that they find in the made environment – or let’s say the man-made environment – is preferred housing or whether it’s desperation housing. But when they go in there to raise their young in these nursery colonies, we think that it must be preferred housing.

It generally costs the same to construct bat friendly bridges, yet when bats colonize under these structures, especially in agricultural areas, everyone profits thanks to their voracious appetite for insect pests.

11—And that means the farmers have to spray less insecticides, or they spray significantly less insecticides. It’s good for us because we eat food with less use of insecticides and we eat food that’s produced cheaper.

You don’t have to build a bridge in your backyard to attract bats. Find information on how to build a bat house on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Web site.

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

Wildlife: Return of the Bats

Monday, April 20th, 2015
Mexican free-tailed bats emerging from Devil's Sinkhole.

Mexican free-tailed bats emerging from Devil’s Sinkhole.

This is Passport to Texas

Millions of Mexican Free-tailed bats are returning to Texas where they will bear their young and eat tons of pesky insects. And that makes farmers happy.

05—The Mexican free-tailed bat in particular is really valuable for agricultural purposes.

Meg Goodman is a bat biologist.

13—Current research has shown that these bats can save farmers up to two sprays of pesticides per year because of all the insect pests that they’re eating. They’re eating things like the corn earworm moth and the cotton boll worm moth, among other crop pest species.

In addition to eating their weight in insects pests each evening, their nightly flights from inside caves and under bridges has become tourist attractions statewide.

14—Just their numbers and nightly emergences bring in a lot of tourist dollars to a lot of small communities and big communities like Austin. It’s one of our top tourist destinations right here in Austin. But they do provide a lot of dollars through nature tourism through a lot of our smaller communities throughout the state.

Bridges, like the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, boasts more than 1.5 million visiting Mexican free-tailed. And tomorrow we meet a man who builds bridges with bats in mind.

07—I would say that they type of bridges we build that would accommodate bats, we probably build about 30 of those statewide every year.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series and funds diverse conservation projects in Texas.

Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

TPW TV: Whoopers

Friday, April 17th, 2015
Whooping crane pair at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

Whooping crane pair at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

This is Passport to Texas

The endangered Whooping Crane, one of the rarest birds in North America, makes its home at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge along the shallow bays of the Texas Gulf.

10— This is a species that almost went extinct. I mean, it was almost gone forever from the face of the earth.

Dr. Felipe Chavez-Ramirez is Director of Conservation Programs at the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory. The species has been making a slow comeback from 16 birds in 1941 to 300 today. Watch Dr. Chavez-Ramirez and his colleagues trap adult Whoopers and fit them with GPS tracking devices during a segment of the PBS Texas Parks and Wildlife TV Series. Wade Harrell, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is also on the show.

11—We’re going to learn a lot in terms of new places that they use that we didn’t know about before. So, I think there’s going to be a real paradigm shift in how we manage and conserve whooping cranes going forward.

It’s no easy task trapping these big birds, yet, once fit with trackers, team members, like Veterinarian Barry Hartup, believe the data returned to them will be eye-opening.

14— What we’re doing with capturing adult birds on the Aransas Refuge has never been done before. So, we’re learning a lot about these birds in terms of their movements, their survival, their overall health – what we can do to further their protection and conservation into the future.

Watch the segment on Whooping Cranes on the PBS Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series next week. Check your local listings.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series and funds diverse conservation projects in Texas.

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