Archive for October, 2013

Invasives: Tawny Crazy Ants

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Tawny Crazy Ant, Image from

Tawny Crazy Ant, Image from

This is Passport to Texas

Texas has native crazy ants, but in 2002 when exterminator, Tom Rasberry, discovered a new species of the ant in Harris County, nobody knew what it was.

09— When this ant was found, the folks that looked at it couldn’t assign it any particular species at that time. And that’s why it was called the Rasberry Crazy Ant.

Eleven years later, TPW entomologist Michael Warriner, says researchers know a bit more.

09— Since then, it’s been determined that it is the tawny crazy ant, which is native to portions of central and south America.

These ants swarm in the millions, play foul with electrical wiring and make a general nuisance of themselves. Twenty five Texas counties currently
report populations of tawny crazy ants. But the ants didn’t arrive at these places on their own steam.

21—These ants are being aided in their dispersal by us. Because we’re transporting them in bags of mulch; in potted plants that are driven dozens – hundreds of miles away – and these ants are making it to places before they ever could actually on their own accord.

How to identify and prevent tawny crazy ant infestation – that’s tomorrow.

Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram.

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

Nature: Master Naturalist Program

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Master naturalist notes, Photo by Sheryl Smith Rodgers

Master naturalist notes, Photo by Sheryl Smith Rodgers

This is Passport to Texas

Protecting Texas’ vast habitat and wildlife resources requires effort from all Texans.

09—Well, as a state agency, we are constrained by our budget, and so we can’t possibly put as many eyes in the sky and boots on the ground as we need.

Kelley Bender, a parks and wildlife Urban Biologist in Central Texas, encourages folks to learn about and conserve resources by becoming a Master Naturalist.

22—The Texas Master Naturalist Program is a really exciting way for people to get involved in nature and wildlife in the state of Texas. There’s a nine-week course that’s provided by professionals in the field, where they get training that includes classroom training as well as field trips. And then we ask for a commitment back to provide 40 hours of volunteer service a year.

Master Naturalist training prepares you to be a leader in community-based conservation efforts.

19—Most chapters offer a get-to-know you class where they introduce all the topics that are going to be discussed. They also talk about what the commitment is and what will be expected of the students as well as what will be expected of the program. And all people are welcome and invited to join. We ask that people be 18 years and over.

Find the Texas Master Naturalist chapter nearest you at

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

Wildlife: Pileated Woodpecker

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

This is Passport to Texas

Fragmentation of old growth forests in the southeastern US and may have contributed to the “extinction” of the ivory billed woodpecker. In 2005, sightings of the bird in Arkansas were reported indicating that after nearly 60 years in oblivion, this phoenix had risen from the ashes.

12—We’ve been getting a lot of calls since that announcement in oh-five, from people in east Texas that are wondering why there’s all this hoopla over ivory bills, because they’ve hand them in their yard for years.

Cliff Shackleford is a non-game ornithologist with Parks and Wildlife. While the ivory billed woodpecker is the largest woodpecker north of Mexico…

09 – We didn’t do a very good job telling people there are two big woodpeckers. And the other one is a common bird in the eastern third of Texas, and that is the pileated Woodpecker.

That’s the bird people have spotted, said Shackleford. It’s an easy mistake to make, too, as the woodpeckers are similar in size and appearance.

18—They’re black, white and they have some red on them. But the big difference between the two—when they’re perched on the tree—the ivory billed has a white backpack. So, the folded wings give it the look like it’s carrying a white backpack. Whereas in the pileated, there’s no white [backpack]. It’s just continuously dark on the back.

Even so, researchers still want to hear about possible sightings of the ivory billed woodpecker…because they never lose hope.

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

Wildlife: Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, Image from

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, Image from

This is Passport to Texas

In April 2005 a national announcement proclaimed the Ivory-billed woodpecker, considered extinct, had been re-discovered in an area called the Big Woods of Arkansas.

06—And it was definitely the most exciting news that anyone can remember in the birding circles.

Cliff Shackleford is a non-game ornithologist with Parks and Wildlife.

16—There have been a lot of skeptics that have seen the documentation – it’s a little fuzzy – but there have been lots of people going back to the site, and have had glimpses. But no one’s been able to secure that really golden shot of the bird.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Ivory-Billed Woodpecker research project put a team on the ground in Arkansas in 2005, and for 5 years searched there and eight other states in the Southeast US for this elusive bird.

20—The exciting thing is that this bird possibly has survived after sixty years of not being detected in the US; and the last sighting of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker in Texas was in November 1904. So, it’s been a long time since that bird has been in Texas. It occurred in the eastern third of the state, roughly, in mature river-bottom habitat.

Although Cornell did not find definitive evidence of a surviving ivory-bill population, the Lab continues to analyze data from the past five years.

Meantime, many east Texans claim to have seen Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers, but tomorrow we discuss a case of mistaken identity.

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

TPWD TV: 2013-2014 New Season

Friday, October 18th, 2013

TPWD TV Series producer, Don Cash.

TPWD TV Series producer, Don Cash.

This is Passport to Texas

[TPW TV theme music]

October 20 the TPW TV Series begins its 28th season on PBS stations in Texas. Expect stories about everything you love about the outdoors.

05— You name it – if it happens outdoors in the state of Texas, we are going to have it on our PBS television show.

Don Cash, series producer, says sometimes he and his crew find stories and sometimes the stories find them.

49— Basically what we do is we look at the programs that Texas Parks and Wildlife is involved in; we try to do stories on the programs and the people. One of the best ways to come up with story ideas is just being out there in the field and meeting people. We’ll be doing one story and someone will say, ‘Oh, you should go look at this over here.’ And by George, all of a sudden you know you’ve got another story to do. .

In addition to its 28 year history, what are you most proud of with respect to the Parks and Wildlife television series?

What I think we’re really proud of is being able to go out and show people what’s available here in Texas. We’ve got a lot of new people moving here; they don’t know what’s out there. And a lot of people have been out here a long time and don’t really get outdoors. And that’s what the show is about really: showing you what’s out there and what’s available and maybe inspiring you to get out and enjoy the Texas outdoors. Hope you’ll watch.

Check your local listings for the TPW PBS television series. Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram.

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