Outdoor Stories: Cliff Shackelford

Passport to Texas Outdoor Stories from Texas Parks and Wildlife

Cliff Shackelford, Parks and Wildlife non-game ornithologist, was a city kid whose family owned land in east Texas. It’s there Cliff discovered his passion.

It was great to have this big backyard of a hundred and twenty acres. And I used to wander around with a BB gun shooting cans, and pine cones…I saw this big bird, and I couldn’t believe how big it was. The colors – it was black and white and had this big flaming red crest and it landed on a trunk of a tree and started hitching up like a woodpecker.

And I thought – no way – I never had seen a woodpecker that big. So I remember running back to the cabin and asking my dad – I saw t his big woodpecker, what was it – and he said, it was a “log god.” And I said, log god, what is that?

And so as soon as we got back home we went to the public library and found a bird book. It happened to be Roger Tory Petersen’s Birds of Texas. Right in the middle of the book are the woodpeckers and so I opened it up and there it was.

And it was the pileated woodpecker, and one of the colloquial names is log god – the god of the logs. And I just thought was really neat to go out in the field, see something, note all the characteristics and then have a book and try to identify it.

So, to me, it was really fun to identify things – and it hasn’t stopped. And, thirty plus years later and I’m still doing it.

Thanks, Cliff. Go to passporttotexas.org to share your outdoor story.

That’s our show for today…remember Life is Better Outside…For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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