Archive for October, 2010

Wildlife Photography: Clicking the Light Fantastic

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

The early bird not only gets the worm, but also the money shot…that is if the bird is also a photographer…and understands that morning and evening light are best for picture-taking. Our state park guide Bryan Frazier offers some tips for clicking the light fantastic.

49—For outdoor photography, the best advice I ever heard is, shoot light first, and whatever it falls on. People get caught up in an object or a tree or a landscape or a landscape, or wildlife there in the photo, and that’s great, but if there’s not good light on it—it’s a bad photograph no matter how you look at it. Morning and evening are traditionally known as the best lighting times, and they are without question. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a great photograph in the middle of the day. If you’re able to set that up—use things like a lens hood that will help shape what you’re doing with your light source. As long as you’re able to have an identifiable light source, you can usually get a pretty good shot. So, change the way you approach your photos; look for light first, especially if you’re able to set up a shot in advance. Look for that good lighting source, and then whatever happens to come into view, it will be that much of a better photograph.

Thanks Bryan.

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That’s our show for today…with funding provided by Chevrolet…building dependable, reliable trucks for more than 90 years. For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

No Country for Old Cowbirds

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

Calling a brown-headed cowbird a cowbird, is a misnomer as far as biologist Marsha May is concerned.

05—I think they should be called bison birds, and not cowbirds, because they evolved with the bison.

The bird’s inclination to lay its eggs in other birds’ nests can potentially cause the decline of species with small populations, such as the endangered Black-capped Vireo. Additional species are also affected.

19—Woodland species are now being impacted by brown-headed cowbirds, because we’ve fragmented the woods. Previously those woodland species were protected by the woods. Now that it’s fragmented, the cowbirds are getting into that habitat, and they’re parasitizing birds that have never historically been parasitized before.

The cowbird is in the blackbird family. The male has a black body and brown head, while the female is mottled brown and gray. Now that you know what they look like, with certification, you can intervene on songbirds’ behalf.

11—You can actually become certified in Texas to trap for cowbirds, and that’s mainly during the breeding season, between March first and May thirty-first. And, mainly you’re trying to trap the females.

Find certification information at, and get ready for spring cowbird trapping.

That’s our show… we receive support from the Wildlife Restoration Program… funded by your purchase of shooting and hunting equipment.

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

Cowbirds: Once Drifters, Now Home Wreckers

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

The brown-headed cowbird migrated with bison across the Great Plains. Because it’s hard to raise a family on the road, cowbirds laid their eggs in other nests; host birds unwittingly raised their young.

The problem with the cowbird eggs is that normally they’re big eggs; they hatch earlier than the host eggs do; and they’re very vocal and hungry and beg for food.

Biologist, Marsha May, says the cowbird hatchlings out compete the host’s offspring for food and starve them out, putting a dent in the population of that species. Back when bison roamed, cowbirds didn’t have quite the same impact.

Black-capped vireos, which are an endangered species now, evolved where if they were parasitized by a brown-headed cowbird, they would leave that nest and re-nest – start a new nest. Well, if the cowbirds had already moved through, that would have worked.

Without bison, cowbirds hang with cows. Because cows are fenced in and don’t migrate, neither do cowbirds.

They’re parasitizing all the birds in that area – their nests – and they’re having a major impact on some species like the black capped vireo, because the black-capped vireo keeps re-nesting and that’s wasting a lot of energy, and if it’s constantly being parasitized, then no young will be reproduced at all that year.

We’ll have more on cowbirds tomorrow.

That’s our show… we receive support from the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program… funded by your purchase of fishing and hunting equipment and motor boat fuels.

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

TPW TV: New Season Begins

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

Fall is when television series air new shows, and Texas Parks and Wildlife’s PBS television series is no different. The new season begins this month; series producer, Don Cash has details.

63—Our show has been going for a little over 20 years; I’m not sure exactly how many. But what we’ve been doing every year is really focusing on conservation, and land use and land management, and taking care of what we have here in Texas. This season is going to be no different. We do a little hunting and fishing—we’re really not a hunting and fishing show—but when we do it, we’re going to sneak in a little education, let people know how these resources are doing and how hunting and fishing actually helps manage some of those resources. We’ve got a lot of different things coming up. One of the things we’re going to have this year that we’ve been having the last few years, are short features on our Lone Star Land Steward award winners. And these are people who are just doing phenomenal things with their land. One of the things we’re going to do is a youth duck hunt on the Katy Prairie. Part of what these kids get in the course of a weekend, is hunting ethics and land ethics, and a part of what they’re teaching these kids is conservation of this land. You can catch the TV show on Texas PBS stations, so don’t miss it.

Thanks Don.

That’s our show… we receive support from the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program…working to increase fishing, hunting, shooting and boating opportunities in Texas…For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Reinventing Bass Tournaments

Monday, October 18th, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

For the past four years, the Toyota Texas Bass Classic, this year at Lake Conroe, has reinvented the way bass tournaments are fished.

11— What they do in this tournament different than other tournaments; the bass that are caught in the tournament are immediately weighed, measured and immediately released in the boat, instead of coming to a staged weigh-in.

Dave Terre is Texas parks and Wildlife Department Chief of fisheries. While bringing fish to shore for display is permissible, 99% of the bass caught, go back into the lake, with an estimated 100% survival.

18—And this is accomplished by putting judges in each of the pro anglers’ bass boats. These judges basically weigh and measure the fish for the angler, then they are recorded—matter of fact, they’re called into a central control tower by radio—and the fish then are immediately released; no harm.

The Pro Angler’s Association sanctions the Bass Classic tournament and, in cooperation with Texas Parks and Wildlife, was instrumental in developing this new judging method to promote conservation of the species.

18—This is a group of folks who are all about conservation. They want to change the way bass tournaments are fished, in this country, and so a couple of years ago we did an impromptu survey of the pro anglers that participate in this tournament. A very high percentage of them feel like this could be the future of the way bass tournaments are fished.

Learn more about fisheries management and see photos from the Bass Classic at

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