Archive for the 'Birding' Category

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

Master Naturalists Share a Passion for Nature

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

Master Naturalists in their element. Photo courtesy Texas Master Naturalists’ Facebook Page

This is Passport to Texas

When you’re passionate about something, it’s hard to keep it to yourself. And when that passion leads you to become a Texas Master Naturalist, you don’t have to.

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 Texas master Naturalist program coordinator. People of all ages and from all walks of life may train to become Master Naturalists, although retirees are strong within their ranks.

We do ask that each Master Naturalist provides 40 hours of volunteer service yearly along with their continuing education of 8 hours of advanced training every year to maintain that certification. That is difficult to do on a full-time employee based status – if you’re a full-time worker. But, we do have many master naturalists who are able to juggle the load. So, we do have young and old.

Since the program’s inception in 1997, Master Naturalists have given back to Texas in millions of meaningful ways. Find out how you can train to become a Master Naturalist at txmn.org.

We record our series in Austin at the Block House and Joel Block engineers our show.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Protecting a Birder’s “Best Friend”

Friday, December 21st, 2018

Musical whistling fills the air as the meadowlark sings its territorial song.

This is Passport to Texas

If you are an avid birdwatcher, or are interested in becoming one, Texas Parks and Wildlife’s non-game ornithologist Cliff Shackelford recommends that you resolve to take good care of your two best bird watching tools in the New Year: your ears.

The most important to me is ear protection. And this is when you’re not birding. This is when you’re mowing the lawn, working the chainsaw, the vacuum cleaner, shooting guns. Anything that’s loud, and you do it a lot, you have to protect your ears, because, guess what: you’re going to use your ears to detect birds more than your eyes.

Your ears are really going to help you find birds when they’re calling. They’re little. They’re up in the trees. You can’t see them amongst the leaves, but they’re singing away like a Red-eyed Vireo. Your ears are going to lure you to that bird way before your eyes are. So, at any age – especially a young age – protect your ears because they are the best tool that you’ve got for bird watching.

Find more birding information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website.

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