Archive for the 'Birding' Category

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 birdcount.org or ebird.org. 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.

Backyard Bird Count Coming Up

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

Bluebirds in a backyard nesting box.

This is Passport to Texas

You want to take part in a citizen science project, but you can’t get away to spend time in the field. What do you do?

Count the birds that are coming to your feeder and in your backyard all day long.

That may sound random. Yet, Cliff Shackelford, Texas Parks and Wildlife non-game ornithologist, says the Great Backyard Bird Count, organized by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is far from random. They combine data submitted by citizens with other surveys, which helps scientists understand how environmental changes affect bird species.

And what’s really neat is after thousands of people do it, and in the country tens of thousands people, you see: Wow, look at where black capped chickadees are versus Carolina chickadees. And you can see where the invasion of – say – red breasted nuthatches are that winter.

The event is February 15 through 18; it’s easy to participate. Just choose a day and register your location on birdcount.org or eBird.org.

So, you just count the birds and submit online. It’s really easy and doesn’t cost anything.

Count for at LEAST fifteen minutes and keep track of the species you see and how long you watched.

And, you might have chores throughout the day, but you’re constantly walking by the window. Just look and see what’s out there, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be at your bird feeder; it’ can be at your birdbath; it can be in the trees in the backyard.

We’ll have tips on making birds count…tomorrow.

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

TPW TV: Black Capped Vireo

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019
This black-capped vireo male is a passerine species.

This black-capped vireo male is a passerine species.

This is Passport to Texas

In the Texas Hill Country, biologists are keeping track of a Texas treasure: the Black Capped Vireo.

I stop in my tracks every time I hear one [vireo] Up…there’s that bird. Right there!

Jeff Foreman is a Wildlife Biologist at Mason Mountain WMA. For many years the black cap was an endangered species, but over the past 30 years this little bird has made a big comeback.

Healthy nesting habitat is very much required for the vireo’s sustainability. They really like these low shrubs with spaces in between. They can fly in and around and catch insects.

Historically vireos thrived in the scattered shrubs and open grassland that stretched across Central Texas. But with European settlement came grazing by cattle, goats and sheep.

…sometimes the populations of those livestock weren’t kept in check. They just ate the homes out from under the vireo.

Fire suppression, white-tailed deer, and the brown-headed cowbird, also played parts in reducing the vireo’s population. It was listed in endangered 1987. The good news is, it was delisted in April of last year.

Find out how biologists worked this magic the week of January 27 on the TPW TV series on PBS. Check your local listings.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Becoming a Texas Master Naturalist

Thursday, January 17th, 2019
Photo from the Texas Master Naturalist Facebook Page

Photo from the Texas Master Naturalist Facebook Page

This is Passport to Texas

There’s a training program for people with a passion for nature. It’s called the Texas Master Naturalist Program.

The Texas Master Naturalist Program is a volunteer based training program; we develop a corps of well-informed volunteers that provide education, outreach and service around the state in the beneficial management of natural resources and the natural areas within Texas.

Mary Pearl Meuth (MOYT) is the program’s coordinator. They train roughly 700 volunteers annually, and have training sessions annually.

Our curriculum that is used for the training, has 26 chapters in it. So, they march through those 26 chapters all with a large context of the state of Texas, but then developed even more within their local ecosystem.

Once trained, volunteers provide 40 hours of community outreach, and take 8 hours of advanced training annually. The program’s not just about taking or facilitating classes. It’s also about discovery.

Quite a few of our Master Naturalists have identified new species of plants or new species of animals located within the state of Texas.

Are you ready to help Mother Nature, and to make a name for yourself – or a new species? The Texas Master Naturalist program can help. Find a training session at txmn.org.

That’s our show…brought to you in part by RAM Trucks. Built to Serve.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti