Archive for the 'Habitat' Category

Landscaping for the Birds

Thursday, September 14th, 2017
Working on a wildscape in San Antonio.

Working on a wildscape in San Antonio.

This is Passport to Texas

Putting out feeders is one way to attract wildlife to your yard. A better way is to create a wildscape.

What a wildscape is, is landscaping for wildlife.

Ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford, says this includes native plants that provide food and shelter; most urban yards, however, traded native habitat for lawns.

So, any little help you can [give] by putting in a wildscape really helps. And even if you don’t have a yard, you can do a wildscape on your patio with pots. I have seen hummingbirds go up to the 6th floor balcony of condos where someone has showy plants that say, “hummingbird come up here.”

A variety of berry and nectar producing plants will draw wildlife to your yard—or balcony.

You want to always stick to natives because they’re acclimated to the soil and the weather and the rainfall that you’re going to give them. And then, you want to make sure that they have some value to wildlife: that they’re going to give you the nectar to attract butterflies; they’re going to have berries at the right time when the cedar waxwings come, and so forth.

Fall is the best time to plant native trees, woody shrubs and perennial flowering plants. Find a list of native species that do well in your area on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Texas Brigades Inspire Careers

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017
Bobwhite Brigade Cadets. Image: Texasbrigades.org

Bobwhite Brigade Cadets. Image: Texasbrigades.org

This is Passport to Texas

To categorize the Texas Brigades as “summer camp” is like calling a mountain lion “a kitty cat”.

This is not a normal summer camp. This is meant to be a lot more than that.

Writer, Aubry Buzek wrote a story about the Brigades for the October  issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

The editor of the magazine said, I want you to go to this summer camp and write about it. And I was thinking: Okay. There’s going to be fun stuff happening; I get there and it’s in the middle of a session on how conservation groups work in Texas….and conservation and hunters ethics. And I was like, Whoa!

The 5-day, cell-phone free, camps for youth build confidence and camaraderie with projects, public speaking and debates on conservation issues.

There are some really amazing instructors who come to this camp. There are instructors there who are wildlife biologists from Texas Parks and Wildlife, other private hunting ranches, water control authorities…just the gambit of [conservation] organizations in Texas. The kids get to meet people not easily accessible. Every instructor that I talked to said that they want these kids to pick up the phone and keep in touch with them. They want to help them grow now and into the future.

Aubry Buzek’s story on the Texas Brigades appears in the October issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Green Habits to Begin This Earth Day

Monday, April 17th, 2017
Earth Day

Celebrate Earth Day every day.


This is Passport to Texas

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans demonstrated for a healthy, sustainable environment…and thus began the annual celebration of the planet called Earth Day.

2017 marks the 47th Anniversary of Earth Day, and millions of people worldwide are gearing up for it. It’s more important now than ever before to take personal responsibility for the care of our environment.

What kinds of things can you do to pay it forward for Mother Earth? Pick up and dispose of trash you find in parks or other public places. That’s simple. Plant native plants that use less water; they also provide food and shelter for wildlife. You could always properly dispose of monofilament fishing line so it doesn’t harm aquatic life.

When camping, leave your campsite in better shape than you found it. Or, your stewardship goal might be to spend time with your family outdoors instead of inside with the television—because a butt print in the sofa cushion offers no value to nature.

Mix it up, and regularly add new earth friendly activities to your list. As for me, I am going to do better with respect to composting kitchen waste and repurpose newspaper and cardboard as a weed barrier in my garden beds.

What will you do?

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

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

The Kraken Serves Texas as an Artificial Reef

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017
The Kraken on the way down to the gulf floor to become an artificial reef.

The Kraken on the way down to the gulf floor to become an artificial reef.

This is Passport to Texas

On Jan. 20th, Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Artificial Reef Program sank a 371-ft cargo vessel, named The Kraken, more than 60 miles off the coast of Galveston. Alison Baldwin is an Artificial Reef technician.

Because Texas [gulf floor] doesn’t have a lot of structure, it makes it hard to for fishermen to fish because fish really enjoy structure. So any time we put structure out here, it’s really good for fishermen and divers.

Program Leader, Dale Shively, says the Kraken, which began life in 1987 as a Japanese cargo ship, was cleaned of fuel, oil and hazardous materials before being deployed into gulf waters.

We’re at our reef site, about 65 miles out of Galveston. We’re trying to maneuver into a deep water spot that’s at least 140 feet deep.

To facilitate a controlled flood to sink the ship, Baldwin says work crews cut four large holes into the its hull.

Water will rush into the stern, and we’re hoping that the stern touches the bottom first, and all that super structure will fill with water, and it will bring the bow down nice and slow.

Everything progressed flawlessly, because of the planning and preparation that went into it beforehand.

As soon as we sink the ship, there should be fish on it in minutes—which is really exciting.

Since 1990, the artificial reef program has documented more than 200 marine fish species that make these complex, stable and durable habitats home.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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

No Bird Shaming, Just Bird Watching

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017
2017 Great Texas Birding Classic, April 15 - May 15.

2017 Great Texas Birding Classic, April 15 – May 15.

This is Passport to Texas

During The Great Texas Birding Classic, birding teams raise money for conservation while they compete for bragging rights against other teams…if there are other teams.

 If you wanted to know where I really feel like people need a challenge, I think the Panhandle. They want some competition up there.

Shelly Plante is Nature Tourism Manager for Texas Parks and Wildlife. While the coast hosts a multitude of birding teams during the classic, regions like the Panhandle barely have any, and they aren’t alone.

Far west Texas—they want some competition. The DFW area only has a couple of teams participating. They could use some great competition. It would be wonderful to see those areas grow by leaps and bounds this year, and to see a real shift in people seeing birdwatching as an activity that they can do with their friends and family in spring as the Birding Classic.

There are tournaments suitable for nearly every experience level. So, c’mon Panhandle, Far West Texas and DFW Metroplex, step up to the challenge and put together a team. You other regions, too. I’m not trying to bird-shame anyone, but you can all do so much better.

When you register, the fee you pay supports conservation, and you’ll have fun outdoors with friends and family. Doesn’t that sound better than watching The Real Housewives of wherever?

The Birding Classic is April 15 through May 15, and the registration deadline is April 1. Do it for the birds.

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