Archive for February, 2016

Texas Outdoor Stories: Time in a Bottle

Monday, February 29th, 2016
Message in a bottle. Photo credit: flickr

Message in a bottle. Photo credit: flickr

This is Passport to Texas’ Outdoor Stories

Terri McDonald of Rockport, responded to our request for listeners’ stories about their favorite Texas State Parks, historic sites or wildlife management areas. Her favorite is Matagorda Island Wildlife Management Area.

Absolutely love it. There’s no cars…very few people…it’s just like going back in time to a beach a hundred years ago.

The slow pace leaves a lot of time for one of Terri’s favorite pastimes — beach combing.

We’ve found tons of seashells, beautiful driftwood, four messages in bottles…. You just never know what you’re going to find out there.

Terri says she’s contacted three of the people whose message she found in the bottles.

The oldest one was from 1969. A soldier in the Vietnam War had dropped it off of Cape Canaveral. And we found it at the bottom of a dune that had been sheared off by a storm. So it had been buried under sixteen feet of sand for years and years. So we got in touch with him through the help of the Corpus Christi Caller Times Military Reporter. And the poor guy almost had a heart attack. It was a long time ago – he had almost forgotten doing it.

Now it’s your turn. Visit the Outdoor Stories link at and send us an email with your memory of the Great Texas Outdoors.

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

Conservation Leader: Tim Birdsong

Friday, February 26th, 2016
Tim Birdsong receiving an Employee Recognition Award for his work, from TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith.

Tim Birdsong receiving an Employee Recognition Award for his work, from TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith.

This is Passport to Texas

Tim Birdsong is Chief of Habitat Conservation for Inland Fisheries at Parks and Wildlife.

I feel like it’s my job as a rivers biologist here at Texas Parks and Wildlife to help people understand what would be lost if we didn’t take care of these resources.

He works closely with landowners to develop projects to preserve healthy, flowing waters in Texas.

Since 2010, We’ve entered into agreements with over 100 landowners to do stream corridor conservation projects to conserve these lands along these flowing waters like you see here. In my personal life, I love to get out and recreate on rivers and streams, and so I don’t really feel like my job is work. So conserving those natural resources is about conserving that relationship that I want to pass down to my own children.

Conservation is hard work for all involved, and can at times seem like one step forward and two steps back. But people like Tim Birdsong never lose focus or faith.

I feel like I’ve made a difference. I feel like the team that I work with has made a difference. I associate my work with not just conserving fish and wildlife, but preserving a way of life. If I can have a role in helping more people get out and experience the outdoors, or promote a way of life that’s going to lead to a healthier, happier society then I’m all for it.

Meet Tim next week in a segment on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV show on PBS, Check your local listings.

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

Women Hunters and Why They Hunt

Thursday, February 25th, 2016
Sharon Cundiff, Straight N Arrow Archery, pictured here with her first deer. An Axis doe taken in Del Rio.

Sharon Cundiff, Owner and Lead Instructor with Straight-N-Arrow Archery, pictured with her first deer by rifle. An Axis doe taken in Del Rio.

This is Passport to Texas

Although I am not a hunter, I attended an all-woman hunting trip to the Texas Hill Country to learn about it.

I met women on the trip who were long-time hunters as well as others who were on their first hunts. Tami Crawford was the hunt coordinator, and explained the purpose of the event.

We’re trying to get women involved in the outdoors, and to take some of the mystery out of the sport of hunting. Before it’s just been something that the guys go do.

Ten women in all went on the trip. Each brought a guide with them. First time hunter, Millissa Salinas of Austin, brought her father Ralph.

I’ve always wanted to experience the outdoors, and I thought the perfect opportunity to bond with my father would be this event so he could show me the rope and experience some special memories together.

Millissa, like all of the women on the trip, was enthusiastic about the experience.

It was extremely exciting. We’d been preparing for it for about a month. He had taken me target shooting, I had borrowed a rifle. So I’d been anticipating the whole excitement for some time now. So when the actual moment came to pull the trigger, it was extremely exciting.

Millissa harvested two deer on that trip. Hunting with other women and her father made for an experience that Millissa intends to recreate with other family members.

We definitely want to get involved more in the outdoors. And I have a younger sister that we’re going to try to encourage to join us.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

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

No Country for Old Cowbirds

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016


This is Passport to Texas

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

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.

A Flood of Volunteer Spirit

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

This is Passport to Texas

Texans are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and pitch in when their state parks need them: such as after the 2015 Memorial Day Floods.

A lot of our friends groups were leading a lot of those efforts.

Audrey Muntz is the volunteer coordinator for Texas state parks. She says she expects opportunities to help flood damaged parks will continue for some time.

Especially for areas where there has been major trail damage, or major damage to work areas or campgrounds.

The floods may have happened eight months ago, but volunteer opportunities to get them sorted are ongoing. And Audrey Muntz says volunteers participate in various projects throughout the year for personal reasons.

There’s this really deep desire to make sure we’re providing this for future generations. So, I really see that through these volunteer efforts.

Interested in becoming a volunteer at your Texas State Parks? Log onto the Texas Parks and Wildlife website and register to become a volunteer, receive updates, and search a wide variety of available projects.

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