Archive for June, 2018

Quail Conservation License Plate

Friday, June 29th, 2018

Conservation license plate supporting quail conservation in Texas.

This is Passport to Texas

As a teen, Kelly Thompson of Fort Worth, cherished time outdoors hunting quail with his friends. It usually involved walking with bird dogs through a variety of habitats, before ever seeing a bobwhite.

Sometimes you won’t see a quail all day.

Even when the young men never saw quail, Kelly says the fellowship and time in nature was worth it. As it is today.

Years ago, many people measured a successful hunt by how many birds you got in your bag. Today we measure success by how many birds you found—not at all how many you shot. As a matter of fact, we’re so much more thoughtful about the conservation aspects of quail than we are about the harvest of quail. It’s much more fun to find them than to shoot them.

Yet, quail are declining in Texas, and Kelly wants to reverse the trend. As a member of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Upland Game Bird Committee, he and others worked to get a quail license plate added to the conservation plate collection.

Specialty license plates cost $30; $22 would go to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation [through TPWD] for quail conservation efforts in Texas, including: habitat conservation, education and some small-scale habitat projects. The funds will be directed by a committee of representatives from quail-related organizations, and administered by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation.

View the new quail plate at

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

Red-Crowned Parrots: a Nearby Native Species

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

Red-crowned parrot in Rio Grande Valley.

This is Passport to Texas

It may surprise no one the Rio Grande Valley is home to a native parrot species. What may astound you, though, is to find one in your yard.

They’re going to come to fruiting trees. When acorns are in season in the fall, they’ll really hit those. If you have a platform bird feeder, you might get parrots coming to your platform bird feeder for sunflower seeds.

Cliff Shackelford, non-game ornithologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife, says the native red-crowned parrot makes itself at home in urban settings; readily building nests in abandoned “real estate.”

They really like dead palm trees. The kind that there’s just a trunk standing, there’re no more green fronds, and it’s very brittle. The golden fronted woodpecker comes in and excavates a cavity and uses it to raise a family; well the next year, a parrot might use it. A parrot can’t really excavate like a woodpecker, but he says, hey, I just need to make this a little bigger, and I’ll use it.

If you live in the RGV and have a dead or dying palm in your yard (that doesn’t pose a safety threat), leave it for the birds. It’s good for them and nature tourism.

Brownsville, Harlingen, Weslaco and McAllen—all have city ordinances where you cannot mess with the birds. And one reason is the nature tourists from all over the world come to the valley to see several unique birds, and the red-crowned parrot is usually near the top of the list.

Learn more about Texas birding opportunities on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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

Texas Native: Red-Crowned Parrot

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

Red-Crowned Parrot. Image: Earl Nottingham, TPWD

This is Passport to Texas

If you live in any of the urban areas of Texas, you’ve probably seen large colonies of the green and gray colored bird known as the monk parakeet. You might think they are native to Texas, but they’re not.

And they were escaped birds that have done very well. But what’s very neat, is if you go a little farther south into the Rio Grande Valley, we have a native parrot, that’s green and has a little red on the forehead, called the red-crowned parrot.

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

And that bird [the red-crowned parrot] is a native species with a very small global range that is from south Texas all the way to parts of northeast Mexico.

Cliff says you’ll find the native red-crowned parrot in the Rio Grande Valley. And they may be closer than you think.

They’re highly urbanized. That’s where a lot of the green space is. A lot of the fruit that they’re eating in backyards. Seed feeders and so forth. They’re really thriving well in south Texas.

Tomorrow: This charismatic native parrot and its tendency to dine and nest in the backyards of Rio Grande Valley residents.

Meanwhile, discover the unique wildlife and habitat of Texas with our nine interactive Great Wildlife Trail Maps! Find them on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Tickets Available for 2018 Bison Music Fest

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

Bison Music Fest 2018–tickets on sale now.

This is Passport to Texas

Tickets went on sale in last month for this year’s Texas State Bison Music Fest.

This year’s Bison Fest will be held September 22—that’s a Saturday. And it will be held in Quitaque, Texas, which is the gateway to Caprock Canyon State Park.

Donald Beard, Caprock Canyon State park superintendent, says the event—which he calls a street dance—helps to raise awareness of the Texas state bison herd.

This bison herd was started by Charles Goodnight in 1878. It’s one of the only remnants of Southern plains bison that are left, and it’s one of the five foundation herds that all bison today are related to. They’re important culturally and historically.

The Texas State Bison Music Fest in downtown Quitaque offers a full day and night of activities and music for the entire family.

Starting at about nine o’clock in the morning, we’ll have vendors lined up all up and down main street with all kinds of neat arts and crafts and food and other things to do. But it will be a lot of fun all day long. Music kicks off about three o’clock and will go to about eleven or twelve at night.

Find the full music lineup and ticket information for the September 22 Texas State Bison Music Fest at

Support for our show is provided in part by Ram Trucks. Built to Serve.

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

Crack Down on Illegal Fish Trade

Monday, June 25th, 2018

Texas Game Wardens are cracking down illegal fish trade in markets after nearly 20 area fish markets and restaurants were cited for buying illegal seafood. Image: KTRK

This is Passport to Texas

Houston has a dynamic culinary scene, where seafood is on the menu. In April, Texas Game Wardens wrapped up a two-year covert operation by issuing more than 150 citations to fish markets and restaurants in the Houston area that illegally purchased game fish from undercover officers.

Over the two year period, we approached approximately 40 businesses in the Houston area—restaurants and markets. And I think the final number was 19 purchased from us. So, about 50% purchased.

Captain Josh Koenig oversees the Game Warden’s Special Ops Criminal Investigations Division. During the two-year operation, wardens in plain clothes offered to sell more than a dozen different Texas saltwater species to seafood markets and restaurants along the upper Texas coast.

The black market fish market is definitely a global issue. The legal folks who are doing everything correct, it could put a damper on them; these illegal fish can change the market, and affect you then when you in turn go to buy fish. So, trying to slow down or stop the black market fish trade is a very high priority.

Wardens received tips from sources identifying businesses known to purchase fish under the table. They began approaching them using product seized from other cases. These covert investigations are ongoing.

That’s our show, brought to you in part by Ram Trucks…built to serve.

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