Archive for April, 2015

TPW TV: All in the Family

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

This is Passport to Texas

Since 1885, Albert Giles’ descendants have preserved the heritage of Texas through stewardship of his Hillingdon Ranch in Comfort. Biologist, Richard Heilbrun, nominated the site for a Lone Star Land Steward Award.

10— Over 97 percent of Texas is privately owned [and] managed, so without private landowners and good stewards like these folks, we don’t stand a chance in making strides toward better wildlife habitat.

Four families, all descendants of original owner, Albert Giles, oversee the property: great grandson, Robin Giles.

08—I actually own 4.8 acres but we run from 14 to 18,000 acres; we have to answer to about 50 family members who are the owners.

In addition to running cattle, goats and sheep on the land, they have a fiber business, and do outreach in the community. Cousin, Myrna Langford, a master naturalist, says habitat for wildlife like deer and turkey is always top of mind.

08—It is our job to see that the habitat continues to be conducive to these particular species.

Giles says balance in all things is critical.

16— I think the most unique thing about the way we produce meat and fiber is also an environment for a tremendous amount of wildlife, too. It can coexist. You can make a living producing, and you can preserve the land and the wildlife.

View a segment on the Giles family next week on a segment of the PBS TV Series. Check your Local listings.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series and works to increase fishing and boating opportunities in Texas.

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

Texas Hummingbird Roundup

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015
Buff bellied Hummingbird

Buff-bellied Hummingbird

This is Passport to Texas

Until recently, I did not know hummingbirds ate insects.

11—Well, if you think about it, an animal that’s swinging it’s arms at 72 times a second, needs something to rebuild those muscles that it’s exercising in there. And, without protein, they’re not going to build muscle.

So, if you find insects, such as bees, snacking at your hummingbird feeder, Mark Klym says, don’t panic.

09—People get all excited when bees get around their hummingbird feeder. And, bees are a great food for hummingbirds. I’ve watched them take bees out of the air.

Klym coordinates the Texas Hummingbird Roundup, a citizen science project with Texas Nature Trackers where folks like you help biologists take stock of hummers.

24—We ask people to have a look out in the backyard once a week, about fifteen, twenty minutes a week, and give us a count of what birds [hummingbirds] you’re seeing out there. How many? What Species? What are they using? And then, if you see anything unusual—you find a nest, you see mating behavior—we ask you to record it and let us know about it.

Download a survey kit and forms for the Hummingbird Roundup from the Parks and Wildlife website. While you’re there, you’ll also discover gardening tips for attracting hummers and a species identification guide.

That’s our show for today… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

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

Attracting Hummingbirds

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015


This is Passport to Texas

If you’ve never seen a hummingbird in your part of Texas, it’s not because they aren’t around.

10—There’s not a county in Texas that can’t see at least two species of hummingbird. In fact, there’s not a state in the United States—with the exception of Hawaii—that cannot expect to find at least two hummingbirds.

Okay, maybe that is not a lot of hummers, but they are out there. Mark Klym coordinates the Texas Hummingbird Roundup for Texas Parks and Wildlife. He says Texas has 18 species of hummingbirds, and one region boasts the most.

07—Certainly the greatest variety would be in the Davis Mountains area. The Davis Mountains and the Chisos Mountains—out in West Texas.

If you want to attract hummingbirds passing through the area, you could put up feeders, but Klym says there is a better way.

14—That feeder, even in a good garden, is nothing more than a fast food stop. You want to provide plants that these birds can go to for nectar. But also, you want to provide plants that will attract insects, because these birds are heavy insect eaters.

If you do put up a feeder, the nectar recipe is as follows: one part regular table sugar to four parts tap water. Use very warm water (not hot) right out of the tap. Stir briskly to dissolve the sugar and you’re done. Let it cool before setting out a feeder. Change the mixture every four days and never use food coloring.

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

Springtime is Watch out for Snakes Time

Monday, April 27th, 2015
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

This is Passport to Texas

Now that spring is here, you know you’ll be spending more time outdoors. And, when you do, my advice: watch your step…literally.

07—Probably most people who spend any amount of time hiking in Texas have been within arm’s reach of a diamondback and never knew it.

Andy Gluesenkamp is a herpetologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. Don’t let what he just said about the big, scary venomous Western Diamondback Rattlesnake — the deadliest snake in North America –keep you locked up indoors.

07—Diamondbacks would by and large much prefer to avoid contact than get in some sort of fisticuffs with a large animal like a human.

These snakes play defense. They usually hang out in the vicinity of fallen logs, brush piles, and rocks. If they think you don’t see them, they’ll lie perfectly still and let you proceed on your merry way. They don’t court trouble. However…

14—If they feel threatened by you, the first thing that they’ll do is buzz that rattle. On rare occasions when somebody reaches their hands into a crevice, or is picking up firewood and grabs a snake or steps on a snake—then they’re going to react violently. And that’s when people tend to get bitten.

You know what you have to do. Find more information about snakes on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Website.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series and works to restore native habitat in Texas.

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

Great Texas Birding Classic Underway

Friday, April 24th, 2015
Coastal bird watchers

Coastal bird watchers

This is Passport to Texas

Any novice or seasoned birder worth their field guide comes to Texas for the Great Texas Birding Classic – a statewide bird watching tournament, April 15 to May 15.

08— It isn’t all about winning, it really is about fun. And I’m really happy to see that people are finally realizing this isn’t just
for hardcore birders.

Shelly Plante oversees Nature Tourism for Texas Parks and Wildlife. Don’t be surprised if during the tournament you see out of town birders roaming your communities.

38—We do see some traveling. We have a statewide weeklong tournament and there’s a statewide big day tournament. So, you can do 24 –hours and go wherever you want – from the Hill Country to the coast; you aren’t bounded by regional territory like you are in some of the other big day competitions. The statewide weeklong is six days of birding anywhere in the entire state. And so, we have a lot of teams doing that. Even though it’s a huge commitment, it’s a lot of fun. A lot of them go from west Texas, all the way down to south Texas, all the way to the upper Texas coast to the Pineywoods. So, they’re seeing 350 or more birds in a week; and, you can’t do that in a lot of states.
So, Texas is unique.

Winning teams choose where to direct funds for habitat conservation. Check out what the birders are seeing this year at

That’s our show for today… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

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