Archive for November, 2011

Baffling Bird Behavior

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

Birds are fascinating to watch, which is why so many of us hang feeders outside our windows for up close viewing.

05—There is no place better in the world for attracting birds than right here in Texas.

Mark Klym is an avid birder and oversees the Wildscaping program at Parks and Wildlife. Common feeder fare is the black oil sunflower seed, which attracts various species, including cardinals, finches, and sometimes chickadees.

06—And watch the way they feed. Some of them will actually sit and break the seed right there on the feeder and eat it.

If you’re new to feeder-watching, some of the behavior you observe may seem perplexing.

14—We get people who are frustrated all the time; they say, ‘how come that bird comes in and throws half the food out?’ Well, what they’re doing is, a bird like a chickadee or titmouse, they don’t have a bill that’s designed to crack that seed. So they’ve got to go back to the branch and bang it on the tree to break it.

But what are they doing when they hurl seed to the ground?

07—They’re actually weighing the seed to make sure there’s enough weight there to make sure it’s worth their while to fly back to that branch before they get their meal.

Now you know. Find birding information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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

Replacing Trees That Died in the Drought

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

The summer heat and drought of 2011 killed too many trees to count. And fall is the time to start replacing them.

10— Getting the trees in the ground in the fall, they have the entire dormant season o spread roots out before the bog demands on roots and water starts in the spring.

Scott Harris is an arborist with Tree Folks of Austin.

14— you always want to plant your trees at the exact same level that they were in the pot. So, the grade with the surrounding ground is going to be the same as they were in the pot. Don’t fig a big deep hole, dig a big wide hole.

Use the soil you removed as back fill, and do not add compost to the hole—just put it around the tree instead.

22— Put your compost underneath the mulch, which you should have three or four inches of. And then all of that organic goodness will kind of dribble down, in the way nature intended. Sort of like the forest floor: you have less broken down things on the top, and more the deeper down you go.

Soil moisture is especially important during the first three years after installing your tree. Provide one inch of water each week for the first season. But if 2012 gives us another dry scorcher of a summer, you will have to water more often.

Find information on wildscaping and a Texas native plant database on the TPW website.

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

Martin Dies, Jr. State Park

Monday, November 28th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

Wildfires and drought are just two of the challenges that confronted Texas this year, changing how people spend time outdoors, and even think about the outdoors. But as our State park Guide Bryan Frazier tells us, good news stories remain.

50— Texas is so diverse from a destination standpoint, and its people so resilient. We have places like Martin Dies, Junior SP, which is north of Beaumont. And B.A. Steinhagen is the reservoir there, and it’s actually been at, and expected to be at full pool level on into the winter. They just added a bunch of new canoes for canoe rentals.

They’ve got a big event coming up—a Cowboy Evening—there at Martin Dies, Junior SP.

It’s kind of the edge of the big thicket where it meets the Pineywoods; it’s a beautiful scenery park, and it’s worth the trip there—for the hiking trail and other aspects of recreation.

Martin Dies, Junior has a really good story to tell, and is worth the trip. Especially if you live north of Houston in the Beaumont area, over that way. It’s just someplace if you haven’t been in awhile, go back and visit, it’s something you definitely ought to check out.

Thanks, Bryan.

That’s our show for today…with funding provided by Chevrolet, supporting outdoor recreation in Texas; because there’s life to be done.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Hunting and Fishing a Family Tradition for Chef

Friday, November 25th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

John Besh operates seven restaurants: six in his home state of Louisiana and one in San Antonio called Luke. Chef Besh grew up in a hunting and fishing family; and contrary to what non-hunters and anglers might think, these activities helped him to develop respect for life.

13— You see something running or swimming one moment, and then the next moment it’s in the frying pan. You don’t waste as much of it. You don’t look at it as lightly as you do as meat wrapped in cellophane on the grocery shelf.

More people today want to know where their food comes from; Chef Besh says when you hunt and fish you do.

12— If you’re a carnivore, it’s the purest form—to take it from the field to the plate. It’s something that I do on a personal level quite a bit. I have four sons, and they’re growing up with the tradition as well.

Chef Besh apprenticed in southern Germany, where each fall the restaurant served wild game brought in by local hunters and farmers, and inspected and approved by the health department.

16—I so loved that, and so appreciated that that added just yet another layer of understanding of how to treat game and the importance of this tradition.

So you were field to plate before field to plate was cool.

I don’t know if it’s cool yet [laughter].

The Hunt Texas e-newsletter provides information on hunting and preparing wild game. Sign up for it on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Was the First Thanksgiving in Texas?

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

Spanish Explorer Coronado and his expedition celebrated the first Thanksgiving in Palo Duro Canyon in May 1541—80 years before the Pilgrims. Or so says Jeff Murrah.

:07—And they celebrated by eating the wild game in the area: buffalo, wild fowl, and other things.

Murrah is an author and sixth generation Texan who writes extensively about Texas history.

:21— They [Coronado’s expedition] had been traveling up into New Mexico and across Texas. When they finally made it to Texas, they had been in the Palo Duro Canyon area. And there had been some rough weather they had recently experienced. They had made it through that with the shelter of the canyon, and they wished to express thankfulness.

Murrah says there were 300 in the expedition and their Thanksgiving celebration took place over several days.

:26—I like this Thanksgiving. Not only was it large, but I think it captures more the idea that many cultures contributed to. Because when you stick with the whole idea of the Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving, you’re either a Pilgrim or an Indian. But here you’ve got Indians, Spaniards, Portuguese, French, Italians, Scots, and Blacks in the party. You had people from many different backgrounds all coming together to give thanks.

Then why do Pilgrims get all the credit for this feast day?

:02—They did a better marketing campaign?

Happy Thanksgiving…for Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.