Archive for December, 2015

Winter Hummers

Thursday, December 31st, 2015
Female Lucifer hummingbird. Photo credit: Mark Klym

Female Lucifer hummingbird. Photo credit: Mark Klym

This is Passport to Texas

Fall hummingbird migration peaked in mid September, and spring migration won’t peak until February. Until then what’s a hummingbird lover to do—just wait?

08—Not at all. A lot of people will take their feeders down in October, and that’s really one of the worst things you can do, because we get hummingbirds here in Texas all year round.

Mark Klym coordinates the Hummingbird Roundup, an ongoing citizen survey of backyard hummers. Some birds, he says, arrive in late summer and stay until spring.

09—They’re not going to go down into Mexico. And so, we can keep them fed and keep them sheltered, and if we have the right habitat, we can enjoy hummingbirds 365 days a year.

You may see ruby-throats and black-chins in winter, but the Rufus and Buff bellies are more numerous in the colder months, and if your landscape has plenty of trees and shrubs, you may see some this winter. Just remember to keep your feeders refreshed and thawed.

20—During the winter, it’s a good idea to increase the number of feeders that you have. Continue with that typical, one part sugar, four parts water solution—no red food coloring, please; that’s not good for the birds. If we get a snow, which has happened a few times—yeah, you have to go out there and brush that snow off and get those feeders opened up. The birds need them; as soon as they wake up that’s where they’re going to head—for those feeders.

Find more hummingbird information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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

Hummingbird Roundup

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015
Hummer photographed in the Davis Mountains.

Hummer photographed in the Davis Mountains.

This is Passport to Texas

Hear the word “roundup” and you might think of herding cattle. But Mark Klym, who coordinates the Hummingbird Roundup, thinks of counting tiny birds.

Well, the Hummingbird Roundup is a backyard survey of hummingbirds that we do every year. You can participate at any time. You can download the forms directly off of our website, or you can send us a letter. We appreciate a donation to help with the cost, but we can send you the forms and get you started.

And, so what does it mean to you as a scientist to get this kind of data back?

Well it’s very important. It helps us to understand where the hummingbirds are being see, when they’re being seen. What resources they’re using. It helps us to get an idea how people are responding to them, whether they’re feeding them appropriately, and it gives us an opportunity also to learn a little bit about these hummingbirds. When the survey started, we thought we had 14 species in the state and that some of them were extremely rare. Now we’re finding that these birds are not as rare as we thought, some of them are actually nesting in Texas, and we’ve got 18 species of hummingbird in Texas. These are native non-migrating species? Well, these are all migrating species, but they’re all naturally occurring in the state of Texas.

Download the Hummingbird Roundup forms from the Parks and Wildlife website.

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

Outdoor Resolutions for 2016

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015
Enjoying the boardwalk trail at Sheldon Lake State Park.

Enjoying the boardwalk trail at Sheldon Lake State Park.

This is Passport to Texas

There’s big push to get children outdoors. But kids aren’t the only ones who benefit from fresh air and sunshine. Survey says: Adults of all ages—as well as the kiddos—can achieve a better quality of life by committing to spending time in the wide open spaces…as well as the forested spaces…or watery spaces… Education and outreach director, Nancy Herron, shares some thoughts.

When you spend time outdoors you can be healthier, happier and smarter.

Those are some big claims there, Nancy. What do we mean by that?

Actually there is a lot of research that’s out there that shows that people of all ages actually do have benefits from being outside in nature, and that does include improvements to your health, your stress level, your sense of self esteem and confidence. Even being more cooperative. Can you believe that? Communities are more cooperative; families bond better in the out of doors. These are interesting things that we now know that we took for granted, and we just didn’t realize. That there’s a whole bevy of benefits from being outdoors.

Get healthier… happier…and smarter in the New Year when you spend time outdoors. Because, Life’s Better Outside…and so are you.

Happy New Year from Texas Parks and Wildlife and all of us at Passport to Texas …I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Do Something That Scares You in 2016

Monday, December 28th, 2015
Family Hiking Near RV at Daingerfield State Park.

Family Hiking Near RV at Daingerfield State Park.

This is Passport to Texas

Hard to believe, but another new year is just days away. Karen Zimmerman, who is a State Park Ambassador, offers a couple of suggestions to help you connect with the outdoors and yourself in 2016.

If you’re not getting outside try to go outside – even if it’s just walking outside. It’s amazing the benefits that that can bring to our mind. If you need to think on a problem, you should just let it marinate in your head while you walk among some trees. But, if you’re already into the outdoors recreation somewhat, and you want to take it a step further, I think the best resolution you can make to yourself is to try something that scares you. Because, there were so many things that I thought I just wasn’t tough enough to do – like repelling. And you might cry a little bit while you do it, but then afterwards you are going to feel so good. And, there is nothing in the world that can boost your confidence for months than undertaking something that scares you like that – and succeeding – because it’s actually not that hard, and you don’t need to be in that great of shape to do most of these outdoor activities.

Explore outdoor activities available in state parks and natural areas when you visit the

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.

Fishing Hall of Fame

Friday, December 25th, 2015
Rainbow trout. Photo credit:

Rainbow trout. Photo credit:

This is Passport to Texas

Rainbow trout may not survive in all parts of Texas, but they flourish in the Guadalupe River below Canyon Dam. The water there is cold, which rainbows need to survive.

We’ve landed 27 and 28-inch rainbow trout out of this river, which is absolutely surreal. That’s a big fish for anywhere.

Chris Johnson is a River Guide. He talks about rainbows in a segment of the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS, which airs next week. Mark Dillow, Chapter President of Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited, is in the segment, too.

We encourage Catch-and-Release to return the fish to the river so that this resource can continue; so that the efforts Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited are putting into making this a world-class fishery can continue. And other people can have an opportunity catch the fish that you caught.

In January 2015, Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited held its first youth trout camp where kids experienced fly fishing and river recreation on the Guadalupe River. And, Dakus Geeslin, Aquatic Scientist, at Texas Parks and Wildlife, says events like that create conservationists.

If these kids enjoy the river, they start caring about the river, and the next thing you know they’ll want to conserve and protect the river. What we saw was a conservation legacy being developed firsthand over that weekend of our trout camp.

Catch the segment on rainbow trout and Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited next week on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV show on PBS. Check your local listings.

The Sport Fish restoration program supports our series.

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