Archive for the 'Birding' Category

Forest Bathing

Wednesday, December 25th, 2019
A moment of medication at Lockhart State Park

A moment of meditation at Lockhart State Park

This is Passport to Texas

An inspired Park Ranger at Lockhart State Park is introducing visitors to a Japanese practice called Shinrin yoku, or forest bathing.

Forest bathing is bathing in the forest atmosphere.

Lauren Hartwick first offered the program this past February.

So, we’re going to be soaking in the leaves and the trees and the sunshine and doing activities centered on your five senses. We’ll explore the sights of the forest the touches and smells of the forest and, at each of the stops, we’re going to have an activity to get us in tune deeper with the woods around us.

At each stop, a few minutes of guided meditation is followed by observation and quiet reflection without the noise, glare and distractions of modern life.

More and more research comes out every day that there are tons of benefits to spending time in nature. That forest bathing can reduce your blood pressure, lower stress, lift depression, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera

The practice has been gaining popularity around the world since the 1980’s.

I’m hoping that it continues to catch on and people start really becoming aware of all of the health benefits. People need nature to be happy and you can be your best self by spending some time regularly in nature.

Go to our website and check the calendar for this and dozens of interesting programs at state parks near you.

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

Consider the Golden-Cheeked Warbler

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019
Golden-cheeked warbler

Golden-cheeked warbler

This is Passport to Texas

Hear that? That’s the Golden-cheeked warbler.

The Golden-cheeked Warbler is only in about 33 counties of Texas. It breeds nowhere else on the planet.

Texas Parks and Wildlife state ornithologist Cliff Shackelford says we can be very proud that this bird is endemic to Texas. But the Golden-cheeked Warbler remains on the federal endangered species list.

It’s been on the list for quite some time. There’s been talk about revisiting that. The data we have suggests that it’s fairly stable but not on a huge incline. There’s still a lot of challenges.

Challenges like the expanding human population into the Texas Hill Country. All too often the tall stands of Ashe-juniper and oak trees Golden-cheeked Warblers depend on are completely removed for development. But preserving native vegetation benefits both the species and the landowner.

Property value is greater when you leave old trees. When we leave that habitat we’re also protecting those hillsides from erosion. You’ve got vegetation holding the soil together. And so you’re not just leaving the habitat for this bird, you’re also helping your property in general.

Sounds like a win-win Cliff.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series and funds Golden-cheeked Warbler research in Texas.

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

Keep Your Distance from Colonial Waterbirds

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019
Roseate spoonbills & Woodstorks

Roseate spoonbills & Woodstorks

This is Passport to Texas

Colonial Waterbirds gather on tiny islands dotted along the Texas Coast. Their beauty and diversity is attractive, but their populations have struggled over the years.

Colonial Waterbirds in the past experienced some pretty significant population declines.

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

A lot of the populations were down to almost nothing. Mainly due to overhunting. You know their feathers are very attractive and they were using them in stuff like hats.

Regulation changes and habitat improvements allowed many of the species to recover. But today there are new challenges like island erosion and exotic vegetation. Trey says one of the larger impacts, however, is human disturbance. Boaters, anglers and even photographers can get too close.

And they are disturbing these birds off of their nesting sites. Anytime that the birds get up, the young or the eggs are susceptible to predators. And some of those predators are other birds.

The more we can do to avoid disturbing these island habitats, the more successful Colonial Waterbirds can be.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series and funds research for Colonial Waterbirds in Texas.

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

The Secret Lives of Marsh Birds

Thursday, November 21st, 2019
Least Bittern

Least Bittern

This is Passport to Texas

Did you know there’s a secret gang of aviators hiding out on the Texas Coast?

They’re not often seen. They’re more often heard.

Trey Barron is a Wildlife Diversity Biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. He’s talking about the secret life of Marsh Birds.

Marsh birds are typically thought of as species like Rails. A lot of other species that inhabit the marsh that are secretive as well, like some of the Bitterns, and they’re one that are very hard to monitor for because they spend time in habitats that you just can’t walk to or drive to. You have to be in a boat or trompin’ through the marsh.

The Marsh Bird population has steadily declined over the years primarily due to habitat loss. And while some species are doing good in Texas, their decreased population along other coastal regions may cause them to be federally protected.

There’s some species that have been proposed at the federal level, the Black Rail, as threatened. It seems to be doing quite well in Texas, but the population has declined significantly on the Eastern coast and so the more we can find out about that species the better we can provide better habitat for the rail.

Continuing to protect marsh habitats will be key to sustaining Marsh Bird populations in Texas.

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

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

Buff-Breasted Sandpiper

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

By Tim Lenz from Ithaca – Buff-breasted Sandpiper Uploaded by Snowmanradio, CC BY 2.0

This is Passport to Texas

The Buff-breasted Sandpiper is a small tan colored shorebird that stops to refuel in Texas during its long journey North.

It’s a bird that is what we call a long-distance runner.

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

It’s a migrant that winters in Argentina and breeds up in Alaska and Canada. And does that every year for maybe 10 to 15 years of its life. It’ll make that round trip journey every year.

But the distance traveled is not the only unique characteristic of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper. It’s preferred habitat in Texas may surprise you.

A shore bird is those little birds you see when you go visit the beach that are running around in the surf. But this guy fills a different niche. He’s not on the edge of water or the surf. He’s out in short grass areas. The key is, big chunks of real estate, varying amounts of water and mud, and just what people would think there’s nothing living out there, but clearly there are lots of invertebrates these shorebirds are going out there and consuming, they’re feeding on those.

Learn more about the birds of Texas on the Texas parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series and funds Buff-breasted Sandpiper research in Texas.

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