Archive for the 'Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program' Category

TPW TV — Parks Ranch, a Lone Star Land Steward

Friday, September 15th, 2017
Parks Ranch -- Lone Star Land Steward Regional Award Winner for Gulf, Prairies and Marshes region.

Parks Ranch — Lone Star Land Steward Regional Award Winner for Gulf, Prairies and Marshes region.

This is Passport to Texas

Before we domesticated livestock, the land and water belonged to wildlife. Cattle took a toll on this habitat; but thanks to the efforts of landowners like David Crow, cattle and conservation coexist.

The ranch is our factory. The cattle are a part of the factory. The wildlife’s part of the factory. And everything has to click together.

Crow operates the 5,600-acre Parks Ranch in Goliad County, and keeps the needs of wildlife top of mind.

I think one of the biggest detractors to wildlife is fragmentation of habitat. To be able to hold this ranch together is extremely important.

A 2016 Lone Star land Steward award-winner in the Gulf Prairies & Marshes region, Crow uses a variety of techniques to create greater density of native grasslands, which supports better diversity of native wildlife.

I’m pleased that my son has chosen his career in this business as well, because that means at least we’re good for another generation.

Witness the success of Parks Ranch on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series next week on PBS. Check your local listings.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Landscaping for the Birds

Thursday, September 14th, 2017
Working on a wildscape in San Antonio.

Working on a wildscape in San Antonio.

This is Passport to Texas

Putting out feeders is one way to attract wildlife to your yard. A better way is to create a wildscape.

What a wildscape is, is landscaping for wildlife.

Ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford, says this includes native plants that provide food and shelter; most urban yards, however, traded native habitat for lawns.

So, any little help you can [give] by putting in a wildscape really helps. And even if you don’t have a yard, you can do a wildscape on your patio with pots. I have seen hummingbirds go up to the 6th floor balcony of condos where someone has showy plants that say, “hummingbird come up here.”

A variety of berry and nectar producing plants will draw wildlife to your yard—or balcony.

You want to always stick to natives because they’re acclimated to the soil and the weather and the rainfall that you’re going to give them. And then, you want to make sure that they have some value to wildlife: that they’re going to give you the nectar to attract butterflies; they’re going to have berries at the right time when the cedar waxwings come, and so forth.

Fall is the best time to plant native trees, woody shrubs and perennial flowering plants. Find a list of native species that do well in your area on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Texas Brigades Inspire Careers

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017
Bobwhite Brigade Cadets. Image: Texasbrigades.org

Bobwhite Brigade Cadets. Image: Texasbrigades.org

This is Passport to Texas

To categorize the Texas Brigades as “summer camp” is like calling a mountain lion “a kitty cat”.

This is not a normal summer camp. This is meant to be a lot more than that.

Writer, Aubry Buzek wrote a story about the Brigades for the October  issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

The editor of the magazine said, I want you to go to this summer camp and write about it. And I was thinking: Okay. There’s going to be fun stuff happening; I get there and it’s in the middle of a session on how conservation groups work in Texas….and conservation and hunters ethics. And I was like, Whoa!

The 5-day, cell-phone free, camps for youth build confidence and camaraderie with projects, public speaking and debates on conservation issues.

There are some really amazing instructors who come to this camp. There are instructors there who are wildlife biologists from Texas Parks and Wildlife, other private hunting ranches, water control authorities…just the gambit of [conservation] organizations in Texas. The kids get to meet people not easily accessible. Every instructor that I talked to said that they want these kids to pick up the phone and keep in touch with them. They want to help them grow now and into the future.

Aubry Buzek’s story on the Texas Brigades appears in the October issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Developing an Ear for Backyard Birds

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017
White-throated sparrow and Carolina Chickadee. Images:  National Audubon Society.

White-throated sparrow and Carolina Chickadee. Images: National Audubon Society.

This is Passport to Texas

It’s not uncommon to find the white-throated sparrow and Carolina chickadee in backyards throughout Texas.

Most Texans have these – especially in the eastern two-thirds of the state

Cliff Shackelford, nongame ornithologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife, says these birds are whistlers.

They have very clear, clean whistles. Sometimes you might even think it’s the neighbor whistling – but it’s a little bird!

If whistling like this comes from ground level, it’s likely the white-throated sparrow.

If it’s a little higher up– maybe up in the trees – it’s probably the Carolina chickadee. We get a lot of phone calls from people saying: what is this bird with that has this crystal clear whistle in my backyard? And it’s probably going to be one or the other – either the chickadee or the sparrow.

The chickadee is finch-sized with a gray body, white underside and black and white head. The sparrow is plump with a black and white head, white throat, gray underside and little yellow eyebrows.

You can hear the chickadee whistling year-round, but the white throated sparrow leaves for southern Canada where it’s nice and cool in the summer while we’re here melting in the summer months.

Learn more about Birds in Texas on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series and funds wildlife surveys throughout Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

TPW TV — In Search of the Blue Sucker

Friday, September 1st, 2017
Wrangling blue suckers in teh Colorado River.

Wrangling blue suckers in the Colorado River.

This is Passport to Texas

The Colorado River is home to a blue ghost: a fish called the Blue Sucker. It’s a rare and threatened species, and for Mathew Acre, it’s worth the days, weeks and months spent searching for it.

Currently the Blue Sucker status is somewhat unknown in the lower Colorado River, so we are not a hundred percent sure how the Blue Sucker is doing.

Acre is a PhD Student from Texas Tech, and works with a team – that includes Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist Dakus Geeslin – to search for this elusive fish.

So we are about ten miles east of Austin on the Colorado River, we are looking for that faster water, and some type of structure, they are really adept at swimming in fast water, they are great swimmers.

Blue suckers used to be found throughout North America, but dams and poor river quality have led to their dramatic decline.

It’s unique in that it has this really elongated body and it hangs out in these fast flowing waters, shoots, and riffles, that most fish tend to avoid because they just don’t have the energy budget to stay within that riffle.

Join the search for the blue sucker when you tune into the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS September 3-9.

Wow, finally! He was in that fast water just where we expected him to be! It just took us a couple of passes through there. You just have to be on your game. That is awesome dude!

The Wildlife and Sport Fish restoration program support our series.

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