Archive for the 'Birding' Category

TPW TV–Green Jay Study in Rio Grande Valley

Thursday, April 11th, 2019
Green Jay

Green Jay

This is Passport to Texas

A new study in South Texas focuses on the Green Jay.

We don’t know a lot about green jays, first of all, so it’s important to know what they’re doing, if we want to be able to manage for them, and we want to manage for them because we have a lot of birdwatchers that come into the Valley and one of the species that they really want to see are green jays.

Tony Henehan is a Wildlife Biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The Green Jay occurs from South America, north to Texas.

The Rio Grande Valley is, I think, the third fastest growing urban area in the country. It’s expanding at a rapid rate. A lot of urbanization, a lot of habitat change is going on, and so these birds have been able to adapt to a certain extent.

To understand how Green Jays are adapting to the rapidly changing environment of The Valley, Tony plans to trap, tag and track up to ten birds a year. RGV resident, Donna McCowan let Tony place a trap in her backyard.

Well, Tony brought this cage to me about a week and a half ago and had me set it up here under the shade. With the cage door open we were putting corn and peanuts in it, so the birds would get used to it and just assume it’s supposed to be there, and they had no problem with getting in and out of it. This morning, we’re going close the top of it and watch and wait for the birds to show up.

Find out if Tony and Donna trapped a Green Jay when you watch the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS the week of April 14.

The Wildlife Restoration Program Supports our Series.

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

Make Plans for the Big Sit Next Year

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

Great Texas Birding Classic begins April 15 and runs through May 15.

This is Passport to Texas

If you didn’t enter a team in the Great Texas Birding Classic by the April 1st deadline because you think you and your friends aren’t good enough birders. Fuhgeddaboudit.

Next year, enter The Big Sit.

The Big Sit is a wonderful category if you only have one or two good birders, and everyone else just has an interest in nature.

Shelly Plante is nature tourism manager for TPW and organizes the classic. Only one person on a Big Sit team needs to ID a bird for it to go on the team’s checklist.

It’s super easy, it’s easily accessible to everyone. And you go and bird in a 17-foot diameter circle for as much as you want in a day. I’ve seen people do it at their local park; I’ve seen people do it in their backyards, which is a lot of fun. So, there are so many different ways that you can do a Big Sit, and it’s just a lot of fun. We like to call it the tailgate party for birding, because people usually have a great food spread, and just a lot of camaraderie throughout the day. So that’s a lot of fun.

Food…friends…feathers? That just screams good times. Find out what this year’s teams spotted across the state between April 15 and May 15 at or, where teams upload their checklists.

Every team fills out a checklist and they upload it into eBird, which is an online bird checklist system through Cornell Lab of Ornithology that we use. So, teams are contributing to citizen science on an international level when they do the birding classic. Once they’ve submitted their checklist, they share that checklist with birding classic staff, and that’s how we know what was seen or heard.

Registrations fees fund habitat projects in the state.

We receive support from RAM Trucks. Built to Serve.

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

Time to Get Your Birding Team Together

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019
Great Texas Birding Classic

Great Texas Birding Classic

This is Passport to Texas

Now in its 23rd year, the statewide, Great Texas Birding Classic remains one of the premier birding events in the world. It offers tournaments for every skill level.

[Like] the general naturalist who’s just getting started and knows a few birds could easily do the Big Sit. There are people that are really avid birders and keep lists and travel for birding, and they might choose to do a Big Day or a Big Week. There are youth tournaments for the kids who are just getting started and have some mentors who are helping them along the way. And then there are some mixed age tournaments that I think are a lot of fun for families to do. So there truly is something for everyone.

Shelly Plante oversees nature tourism at Texas Parks and Wildlife. Find details about the tournament at The Classic runs from April 15th through May 15th. Money raised from fees goes to fund habitat conservation projects.

We have funded acquisition projects. We have funded restoration projects—which is invasive species removal and restoring habitat back to its natural state with native species. We’ve done enhancement projects for birders, which is putting in boardwalks or bird blinds or pavilions. So, we have done a lot of projects throughout the state of Texas.

Sign up at for updates; register your team by the April first deadline. Do it for the birds.

We receive support from RAM Trucks: Built to Serve

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

TPW Magazine: Wind and Wildlife

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

Pensacal wind farm and avian radar.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas is the number-one wind energy state; but what’s the effect of wind farms on bats and birds? Writer Russel Roe addresses this matter in an article for the March issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

The stakes are high when it comes to wind and wildlife, especially as you consider that Texas has the largest population of bats in the world and the nation’s highest diversity of bird species.

Although clean, renewable wind energy offers benefits to the environment, you’ll learn in Roe’s article that it does so at the cost to wildlife. Hundreds of thousands of birds and bats die annually, their fates sealed when they fly into the turning blades of gargantuan turbines.

Bats are hardest hit—no pun intended. With more than twice the number of fatalities than birds.

Roe writes that wind companies and conservation groups agree that responsible siting of wind turbines away from areas with high wildlife activity is a key first step to reducing the problem. TPWD is working on its own set of wind energy guidelines and hopes to release them sometime in 2019.

Meanwhile, read Russel Roe’s article about Wind and Wildlife in the March issue of Texas parks and Wildlife Magazine. You’ll also learn about research on ultrasonic acoustic deterrents that reduced bat fatalities by 46 percent.

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

Making Backyard Birds Count

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

Finches at feeder.

This is Passport to Texas

The Great Backyard Bird Count provides citizens a chance to collect data to help researchers understand birds.

You’re basically counting all the birds you see at that spot on the planet; and the best part is it’s in your backyard. You’re starting to really pay attention to what birds are there in the wintertime. And, it’s just a lot of fun – it’s a learning experience for everybody.

Texas Parks and Wildlife ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford, says the count, February 15 through 18, is like a snapshot of bird life.

You’re counting both the number of species and the number of individuals per species. So, you’re getting two different numbers. Both kinds of information are very valuable.

Register at or It’s free. Cliff suggests doing your “homework” before getting started.

Crack your field guide open and start learning what species are even possible for your area – which ones would be in big numbers and which ones might be something rarer that you would want to get a photograph of. So, if you had, say, a Rufus hummingbird in February that might be something you might want to get a picture of just in case.

When you participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count, you help expand the knowledge base of the fascinating world of birds.

Our show receives support in part from RAM Trucks: built to serve.

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