Archive for the 'Habitat' Category

Ocelot Habitat Restoration

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019
Endangered Ocelot

Endangered Ocelot

This is Passport to Texas

The endangered Ocelot once roamed many parts of Texas. But over the years, loss of their native thorn-scrub habitat has left only a handful of Ocelots in the Rio Grande Valley.

We need to restore their habitat as quickly as possible because they’re just really in dire need.

Dr. Sandra Rideout-Hanzak is a restoration ecologist at Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute.

The thornscrub is really unique and it’s highly diverse. We’re talking about small trees or large shrubs. They’re multi-stemmed so they’ve got lots of branches coming out very low to the ground. To humans it looks like this impassable jungle, but to Ocelots it’s just perfect.

Traditionally Ocelot habitat was left alone to restore itself. Now a new study is hoping to accelerate restoration efforts with woody plant seedlings.

We’ve kind of figured out how to replant these species of trees that become thornscrub. We have 700 seedlings that we’ve planted ourselves to see what we can do to get them to that multi-stemmed habitat where they’re growing in the right shape as quickly as possible.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series and funds Ocelot research in Texas.

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

Great Comeback for Whooping Cranes

Thursday, October 17th, 2019

Whooping crane pair at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

This is Passport to Texas

The majestic Whooping Crane is the tallest bird in North America and has a wingspan of seven and a half feet. But even with its impressive size, the Whooping Crane nearly became extinct, and in 1970 the bird was listed as an endangered species.

They are still federally listed as endangered. The population will be classified as such until they get around a thousand.

Trey Barron is a Wildlife Diversity Biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Once we get to that thousand population number the US Fish and Wildlife Service will readdress the status of the bird and potentially delist it. And that’s the ultimate goal is protect enough habitat and have enough birds that we can keep them off the list.

That habitat is the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas Gulf Coast and Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada. Due to massive conservation efforts over several years, the Whooping Crane population once in the teens, now number the hundreds.

The outlook for the Whooping Crane is very positive. Just through years of successful reproduction, good wintering habitat down here, they’re on their way to total recovery.

That’s good news, and validation that conversation and management of Whooping Cranes will ensure survival of the species.

Whooping cranes began their fall migration south to Texas in mid-September.

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

TPW TV–Swift Saviors

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019
Nesting chimney swift.

Nesting chimney swift.

This is Passport to Texas

Chaetura [KAY-tura] Canyon… is a chimney swift sanctuary of sorts, found in the growing city of Lakeway…just west of Austin.

Their numbers are declining dramatically, they’re down by probably fifty, sixty percent since the sixties here in the United States. And [in] Canada they are on the threatened and endangered list; they’ve lost ninety percent of their chimney swift population.

Paul and Georgeann Kyle, who oversee KAY-tura, say chimney swifts are unable to perch or stand upright, and so they rely on a type of habitat that’s been disappearing.

Historically they roosted in large hollow trees, and those are not allowed to stand anymore. They then moved into the brick chimney’s, but now most of those are aging and many are being capped or torn down.

In an upcoming segment of the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series we meet the Kyles, and learn how they’re helping to save these small, endearing black birds by building them towers for roosting and raising young.

The perfect home for Chimney swifts, it’s a nice rough surface, little grooves for them to hold on to, attach their nest. Ya basically anybody that can use a few power tools and read a tape measure can build one of these chimney swift towers and just one structure can make a real big difference in the breeding success of the birds.

Learn more about the Kyle’s work with chimney swifts the week of September 29 on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS.

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

Hands on Habitat

Thursday, August 29th, 2019

Manmade habitat for freshwater fish.

This is Passport to Texas

The Lone Star State is revered for its exceptional sport fishing opportunities.

To preserve and enhance these destinations, a recent project at Lake Sulfur Springs experiments with nontraditional materials and designs to create artificial habitat.

Fish need habitat and structure in general.

Tim Bister is a District Fisheries Biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife

Even in reservoirs that left timber standing, over time, that timber in the water breaks down and the habitat for the fish declines. We’ve done work with Christmas trees in the past but the PVC that we’re using in the structures we’re building today are going to last for many, many years

One design for artificial habitat involves using simple, materials like PVC pipe and corrugated plastic drainpipe. Biologists and volunteers use the PVC to build a four-foot cube-shaped framework, and then weave and secure the drainpipe to it; it’s not much to look at, but it creates a nest-like structure.

Kody Corrin is the state director for Bass Unlimited and a restoration project volunteer

Somebody that doesn’t really know would think that we’re just piecing recycled garbage together, and we’re really not. We’re actually providing good habitat for the fish.

The Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

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

Return of the Black-Capped Vireo

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019
This black-capped vireo male is a passerine species.

Male Black-capped vireo.

This is Passport to Texas

Not long ago the tiny masked bird known as the Black-capped Vireo nearly became extinct. The US Fish and Wildlife Service listed the species as endangered in 1987. But rigorous habitat recovery efforts have finally changed that listing.

Good news for the Black-capped Vireo is that it was recently delisted.

Cliff Shackelford is a state ornithologist at Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Now we’re in a phase of what we call the post-delisting monitoring. So Parks and Wildlife is involved in continuing the count of Black-capped vireos to make sure that the numbers are still steady and increasing but not decreasing.

Cliff believes we’ve become better at understanding what makes a healthy Hill Country ecosystem.

I think the one thing our agency has learned is better deer management. We’ve relayed that to a lot of our landowners that we work with, and you can drive around the Hill Country and see who’s doin’ it right. But I think that’s the big thing is finding that balance of where you can have your agriculture, your deer, and your Black-capped Vireos and everybody lives in harmony, and we’ve found that sweet spot and it’s really working.

Now it’s up to us to hand down our lessons learned to the next generation so that the Black-capped Vireo is never endangered again.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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