Archive for the 'Habitat' Category

Birds on the Move

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

Some birds, like the golden-cheeked warbler are endangered because of habitat alteration.

This is Passport to Texas

According to a National Audubon Society report on birds and climate change, 314 of the 588 North American bird species studied will lose more than 50 percent of their current climatic range by 2080.

Ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford, says climate change is impacting these species. As the temperatures rise, birds move north. Another reason is habitat alteration.

The interesting thing is that probably four or five decades ago there was another pulse or movement of birds that might not have been related to climate change. And what some people have suggested is a lot of these birds are extending their range because of fire suppression where grasslands were probably a good barrier to a lot of these woodland birds. And now that we don’t have fires to maintain grass, we have trees encroaching. Things like mesquite, huisache and retama are increasing, and a lot of those South Texas birds are moving in response to that.

Some birds, like the golden-cheeked warbler, are already endangered because of habitat alteration. And if something’s not done to restore the habitat, many more birds could find themselves without a suitable home.

They’re specialized they need a very specific habitat and when that is whittled away, they’re not able to adapt to other environments.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Wildlife and the Law of Attraction

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

On which side of the fence do you imagine you will find more wildlife?

This is Passport to Texas

Habitat requirements vary between species, yet some critters make themselves at home anywhere.

Wildlife are really adaptable, and there’s going to be some wildlife that thrive in whatever type of habitat that’s provided.

Kelly Simon (SEE-mah) is an urban wildlife biologist. Even a perfectly manicured monochromatic monoculture known as lawn—will attract some wildlife.

In a typical urban area—where you’ve got really closely mowed Bermuda grass lawn, or St. Augustine lawn, and then just a few really tall mature trees and kind of nothing in the middle? That kind of habitat is really good for grackles, and pigeons, for possum and raccoon, and kind of the species that you see in a disturbed habitat.

Simon says most people don’t mind seeing those species sometimes, but not all the time.

And so what we try to do is to encourage people to create a more balanced habitat. And what I mean by that is to provide native plants that provide natural food sources—fruits, nuts, berries, leaves, etcetera—that provide a balanced source of nutrition for the animals.

This balanced habitat is called a wildscape. Find wildscape information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series.

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

Birding’s Version of Tailgate Parties

Thursday, April 5th, 2018

Hanging with friends and family during the Great Texas Birding Classic.

This is Passport to Texas

Does sitting outdoors in a circle with friends and family sound like a birding tournament to you? It is, and it’s called The Big Sit.

We call them lovingly the tailgate party for birders. Because really it’s wherever you can set up a 17-foot diameter circle. Be that your backyard, a local park, a state park – anywhere that makes sense for you to be able to see a good group of birds and to spend a day with friends and family.

The Big Sit is one of the tournaments of the Great Texas Birding Classic, in its 22nd year. Shelly Plante, nature tourism manager at Texas Parks and Wildlife, coordinates event.

You can have as few as one person on your team, to as many as you can fit in that circle throughout the course of the day. And people can come in shifts. They don’t have to stay for the whole 24 hours. So, you could have a morning group, a midafternoon group. You could have them come throughout the day. No one has to stay there the entire time.

The Big Sit tournament is ideal for novice birdwatchers.

The Big Sit is great for beginners, because it lets you get your feet wet in the Birding Classic, and see what a bird watching tournament really is. Once you get your confidence in The Big Sit it’s easier to move on to doing a Sunrise to Noon tournament; it’s easier to say hey, I want to do a Big Day where I drive around to a lot of places. And so we have tournaments for that as well.

The Great Texas Birding Classic is April 15 through May 15th. Team registration closed April 1st, but you can stay on top of the action at

Tomorrow, confessions of a birding classic ringer.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Birding in Circles

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018
Daytime Big Sit group.

Daytime Big Sit group.

This is Passport to Texas

For those who don’t know how the various birdwatching tournaments of The Great Texas Birding Classic unfold…

Groups of people go out and birdwatch for a half a day or a day and even as much as a week. And, they go out with their friends and family to see how many birds they can identify in a short amount of time, and the team with the most species on their list wins. Except for one tournament.

That one tournament is The Big Sit. Shelly Plante is the nature tourism manager at Texas Parks and Wildlife, and coordinates the Great Texas Birding Classic, now in its 22nd year.

The Big Sit is a fun one. In the Birding Classic, most of the tournament categories, everyone has to ID a bird for it to go on a list, but not the Big Sit.

In the Big Sit, Plante says only one team member has to ID a bird for it to make the list, either by sight or sound.

It’s the perfect event for the new birder. You can have a team with all people who are beginning, and then they just have to be sure they h have a ringer or two on their team who can ID the bird for them for it to go on their list. And it turns into a really fun day for people.

The Great Texas Birding Classic is April 15 through May 15th. Team registration is closed for this year, but you can stay on top of the action at

Tomorrow, the mechanics of the Big Sit.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Creating Habitat for Freshwater Fish

Friday, March 30th, 2018
Creating a brush reef with dead trees.

Creating a brush reef with dead trees.

This is Passport to Texas

As we age, it’s natural to experience physical decline. That’s what’s happening to Texas’ reservoirs.

Many Texas reservoirs were formed years ago by constructing dams across rivers. As water filled the low lying areas it submerged trees and shrubs, which became fish habitat.

That organic matter’s been breaking down ever since—and has reached a breaking point in some reservoirs.

This past fall, with the help of local volunteers—and financial support from the Brazos River Authority (or BRA)—Inland Fisheries staff from TPWD completed several projects to improve fish habitat at Aquilla Lake, Lake Georgetown and Granger Lake.

Each water body received a different treatment, from replanting water willows and establishing new plant colonies, to creating artificial reefs, to sinking brush piles—all of which help to improve fishing.

These projects were completed with funding from the Brazos River Authority as part of a multi-year effort to improve all 11 BRA System reservoirs in the basin through 2020.

Learn about these habitat projects as well as others that have taken place in reservoirs across the state on the TPW website.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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