Archive for the 'Birding' Category

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.

Counting Birds for Fun and Science

Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

Helpful tools when on the lookout for birds.

This is Passport to Texas

Counting birds at dawn during the Christmas Bird Count guarantees you’ll see lots of them—which can lead to confusion.

Especially if you get into a big flock of robins or grackles; you just have to start estimating numbers. But, it’s really fun when you start getting big numbers of species. You know, you’ve only been out for an hour and you already have 30 species of birds; that’s really fun.

Cliff Shackelford is a non-game ornithologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. This year’s count is December 14 through January 5.

There are over a hundred Christmas Bird Counts in Texas; so, chances are there’s one in existence in your area.

Counts take place in 15-mile diameter circles. Find a count circle at audubon.org.

Search for Christmas Bird Counts in Texas, and figure out which one is nearest you. Also, you’ll see who the compiler is, and you can get phone number or email and start coordinating with that person.

Compilers act as “captains” of their circles, and relay collected data to Audubon, which organizes the event. Birders of all skill levels are welcome.

And what they’ll do [if you’re a novice] is stick you with some seasoned vets, and that’s really good because you learn a lot when you’re out in the field with someone whose been doing this awhile. So you go out with this team of observers and you basically beat the bushes and try to see as much as you can see. It’s a lot of fun.

The data helps researchers better understand trends as they relate to our feathered friends. The WR restoration program supports our series.

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

Going in Circles is for the Birds

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

Participating in the Christmas Bird Count.

This is Passport to Texas

The name “Christmas Bird Count” is a bit of a misnomer.

It doesn’t happen on Christmas Day. It happens in a period around Christmas.

That period is December 14th through January 5th.

You just have to pick a day in that three week period to do the count.

Cliff Shackelford is a non-game ornithologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. Counting occurs in 15-mile radius circles; people participate in groups or teams, directed by a compiler.

And those people [compilers] decide on a day, and they divvy up the pie of where these teams can go look for birds in this fixed radius circle, and you count birds within that circle.

Volunteers count species during a 24 hour timeframe – midnight to midnight on the chosen day.

You don’t have to. But, a lot of people want to know about owls [for example]; so, they get up early. Three A.M., maybe, and go listen for owls. And that’s pretty valuable. But, most people do just the daylight hours.

Cliff recommends getting out at dawn.

That’s when you get the best bird diversity at dawn. Everybody’s waking up: singing, calling and foraging and activity is the greatest right at dawn. Because, birds have slept all night and they’re hungry for something to eat.

Find a count circle near you at audubon.org.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our show.

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