Archive for the 'Wildlife' Category

Birding: Making Backyard Birds Count

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015


Summer Tanager

Summer Tanager

This is Passport to Texas

The Great Backyard Bird Count provides citizens a chance to collect data to help researchers understand birds.

15—You’re basically counting all the birds you see at that spot on the planet; and the best part is it’s in your backyard. You’re starting to really pay attention to what birds are there in the wintertime. And, it’s just a lot of fun – it’s a learning experience for everybody.

TPW ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford, says the count, February 13 through 16, is like a snapshot of bird life.

08—You’re counting both the number of species and the number of individuals per species. So, you’re getting two different numbers. Both kinds of information are very valuable.

Register at or It’s free. Cliff suggests doing your “homework” before getting started.

20—Crack your field guide open and start learning what species are even possible for your area – which ones would be in big numbers and which ones might be something rarer that you would want to get a photograph of. So, if you had, say, a Rufus hummingbird in February that might be something you might want to get a picture of just in case.

By participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count, and sharing your observations, you help expand the knowledge base of all… in the fascinating world of birds.

That’s our show… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

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

Birding: Great Backyard Bird Count

Monday, January 26th, 2015
Cardinal in a backyard tree.

Cardinal in a backyard tree.

This is Passport to Texas

You want to take part in a citizen science project, but you can’t get away to spend time in the field. What do you do?

05—Count the birds that are coming to your feeder and in your backyard all day long.

That may sound random. Yet, Cliff Shackelford, Texas Parks and Wildlife non-game ornithologist, says the Great Backyard Bird Count, organized by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is far from random. They combine data submitted by citizens with other surveys, which helps scientists understand how environmental changes affect bird species.

15— And what’s really neat is after thousands of people do it, and in the country tens of thousands people, you see: Wow, look at where black capped chickadees are versus Carolina chickadees. And you can see where the invasion of – say – red breasted nuthatches are that winter.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is February 13 through 16; it’s easy to participate. Just choose a day and register your location on or

05—So, you just count the birds and submit online. It’s really easy and doesn’t cost anything.

Count for at LEAST fifteen minutes – but you can count longer – and keep track of the species you see and how long you watched.

10—And, you might have chores throughout the day, but you’re constantly walking by the window. Just look and see what’s out there, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be at your bird feeder; it’ can be at your birdbath; it can be in the trees in the backyard.

We’ll have tips on making birds count tomorrow.

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

TPW TV: Wild Kitties in the City

Friday, January 16th, 2015




This is Passport to Texas

Bobcats don’t fit the description of “city slicker.” Yet, in a new Texas Parks and Wildlife PBS TV segment airing next week, you’ll discover these felines are becoming a common site in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

04—The allure of cats and their strength and their stealth – they’re pretty fascinating.

Graduate student, Julie Golla, works with Texas Parks and Wildlife to examine how bobcats move in a city. She’s trying to understand the way they use available habitat in an urban setting to make a living. But first she has to trap them.

10—I thought we were going to have a hard time finding cats to catch in these really urban spots; but there’s no shortage of bobcats, and I think people will be surprised.

Once trapped, a team gathers, and they sedate the animals, take their vitals, and collect other data

15—You want to get good, solid information, because this is a lot of work that goes into every bobcat we catch. It’s always stressful doing this because you take the animal’s well-being into your hands when you work with them like this. But, we did everything right and everything went really well. He’s doing great right now.

The wild cat gets a GPS tracking collar before release.

Watch Julie Golla and Texas Parks and Wildlife Wildlife biologists trap and track bobcats in the Dallas-Fort Worth area this week on the Texas Parks and Wildlife PBS TV show.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series, and is funded by your purchase of fishing and hunting equipment and motor boat fuel…

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

TPW TV: City Bobcats

Thursday, January 15th, 2015


Beautiful bobcat.

Beautiful bobcat.

This is Passport to Texas

When you think of urban wildlife, birds and squirrels come to mind, but bobcats? If you live in the DFW area they do… and Texas Parks and Wildlife is studying them.

05—We’re hoping to answer some very basic questions about urban bobcats, something that we know very little about.

Biologist, Derek Browman, says we’ve studied bobcats in rural settings, but need to fill knowledge gaps regarding the urban jungle.

10—We’re genuinely looking at an area that is completely encompassed by human development

Julie Golla is a graduate student, working with TPW, and whose research looks at how bobcats navigate the city.

15—It started out with cameras; cameras have been very important, not only to see the number of animals, but also to find those hot spots, where we can catch them in a quick and efficient manner. We’ve gotten quite a few bobcats on camera; on trails that we do get bobcat traffic – that’s where we’ll put our traps.

They take vitals from trapped cats, and then fit them with GPS collars to track and collect data. Some bobcat traps end up on golf courses.

08—When they’re developing a golf course, they don’t realize the strip of trees between fairways is serving a corridor for wildlife, but it works quite well for us.

We’ll have more on wild kitties in the city tomorrow. The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series, and is funded by your purchase of fishing and hunting equipment and motor boat fuel… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Wildlife: Birdwatching

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015



Birdwatching in Texas

This is Passport to Texas

What do you like to do from the privacy of your backyard?

03—Spying on the neighbors; but I think it’s healthy.

Fortunately, the neighbors Texas parks and Wildlife ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford’s referring to are birds. This brand of outdoor voyeurism is socially acceptable.

07— You get a lot of relaxation out of hearing birds and seeing their beauty. But also, figuring out what they’re doing.

Cliff says he enjoys observing how birds live and interact within the surroundings he shares with them.

19—And, I think it is a lot of fun to figure out what are my neighbor birds doing, and how do they fit in with my way of life. So, if they’re eating insects that I consider pesky – eating the mosquitoes and gnats – I love it. If they’re feeding on the plants that I put out there, like a hummingbird or butterfly or a bee—I love it.

We can even learn life lessons from birds, says Cliff, such as industry, perseverance, creativity, and responsibility.

14— Look how good they are at being parents. We hear complaints about getting dive bombed from birds in the springtime; well, those are good parents. They’re perceiving you as a threat. And I think a lot of people can learn from a bird how to be a good parent.

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.