Archive for December, 2008

Whooping Cranes: Back from the Brink

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program

Once widespread across North America, the Whooping crane, the tallest bird in the US, nearly became extinct in the mid twentieth century due in part to habitat loss and unregulated hunting.

By the time people started paying attention in the 1930s and 40s, the whooping cranes were restricted to occurring in the United States only in a small population in Louisiana, and along the Texas coast in the winter.

Wildlife Biologist, Lee Ann Linam, says Whooping cranes landed on the endangered species list in 1967… with no time to spare.

And those numbers were unbelievably low at some point. That Texas population got down to 15 or 16 birds one winter.

Collaborative efforts between pubic and private organizations and landowners in the US and Canada, helped the species to rebound. Biologists expect more than 280 birds to winter at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge this year.

It’s so neat to be able to tell a come back story for endangered species. You know, so many times we are constantly fighting the threats that are hard to off-set, and species continue to languish somewhat, or at least struggle for recovery. [bird calls] And it’s nice to show that, in this case, the endangered species act and the other efforts that went on to protect migratory waterfowl were able to bring a species back from the brink.

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

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

Texas Outdoor Story: The Cabler Family

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Passport to Texas Outdoor Stories from Texas Parks and Wildlife

Ask Claire Cabler about a memorable time in the outdoors and she’s got plenty.

We were at Guadalupe State Park. I was busy playing in the sand. My dad said, “Look up there’s a water snake!” and I looked and I saw this sticking thing and I thought that was the water snake.

It seems that Claire’s dad, Dru Cabler, is always pointing out wildlife to her. Even at home.

We point ‘em out as soon as we see ‘em if we think she’s never seen one before. We got all kinds of creatures just around our house. Deer that come through our backyard. Lots of rat snakes, grass snakes, a couple of rattlesnakes. Frogs that jump into our swimming pool. Big Texas spiny lizards, and green anoles.

And venturing out to state parks together, they find other creatures that aren’t as close to home.

We like to go to Guadalupe state park, like she said.

How about Port Aransas?

We like Port Aransas. We’re going next weekend. So we’ll spend a lot of time outside there on the beach. She likes to collect dead fish; stack ‘em up with her friends. Remember that?

I don’t really remember catching the dead fish but I remember picking up a bunch of shells. I found a full sand dollar.

We love hearing your outdoor discoveries and adventures. Share them with us at

That’s our show…with research and writing help from Sarah Loden… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Texas Traditions: Time off at Holidays

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

We have something in common with early Texans.

Christmas, and the month of December—in large part—was the time when Texans gathered.

Cynthia Brandimarte is program director for Texas historic sites. Unlike today when a short trip by car or plane gets us to our holiday destinations, travel was difficult for early Texans.

And so when you traveled, you tended to stay. People had time at Christmas to do that—to travel and spend weeks.

Which makes the few days that most of us get off at Christmas seem like a rip off. Early Texans made good use of this block of time.

It was then that they celebrated not only Christmas, but other special events, and planned weddings for the month of December.

Since Texas was mostly rural in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, and there wasn’t a lot of farming that could happen in December…

It almost gave 19th Century and early 20th Century rural Texans an excuse not to work. And thus to play a bit more, and socialize a bit more, than they had time to do during many other months of the year.

How will you spend your Holiday? Tell us at

From all of us at Passport to Texas, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year…For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Brief History of Christmas Tree in Texas

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

The custom of decorating trees for Christmas took root in German villages during the sixteenth century.

A lot of Germans, as you know, settled Texas. And they brought a tradition with them of the tabletop Christmas tree.

Cynthia Brandimarte is program director for Texas historic sites.

When you look at interior photographs of Texas houses, you see many tabletop Christmas trees ornamented for the season, particularly in German households in the late nineteenth century Texas.

Ornaments were handmade then, and small gifts often dangled from branches. Eventually, the tabletop conifer gave way to larger trees that became “floor models,” and the decorations sometimes mirrored the day’s events.

You saw more and more seven or eight feet trees that were placed on the floor. And because we had just ended the Spanish American war in victory, there was a fashion in the early part of the twentieth century to decorate trees with a few American flags here and there. We have photographic evidence for that.

What kinds of ornaments will hang from your tree this year? Tell us about them at

That’s our show… we record our series at the Production Block studios in Austin, Texas, and For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Conservations Gifts for the Holidays

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

Holidays challenge the creativity of gift-givers everywhere. If you have nature lovers on your list, gift giving is easy—and the giving is twice as nice.

A sixty-dollar Texas State Parks Pass is a thoughtful and sensible gift for your outdoor enthusiast. Pass holders enjoy twelve months of unlimited visits to more than ninety state parks and historic sites. They also receive discounts on camping, park store merchandise and recreational equipment rentals. Money spent on the pass supports your Texas state parks.

For thirty dollars each, you can give the drivers on your list a conservation license plate. Twenty-two dollars from every sale goes directly to help fund conservation efforts in Texas. The horned lizard plate, in particular, funds research and conservation of non-game species such as the horned lizard.

Give every outdoor lover on your list access to more than a million acres of public land—with the Limited Use Permit—for the ridiculously reasonable price of twelve dollars. The permit holders receive twelve months of access to Texas’ wildlife management areas, where they can fish, hike, bird watch, cycle, and camp.

When you give one of these gifts, you delight the receiver, and help support state parks and conservation in Texas. Details at

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