Spring 2013 A publication of the Wildlife Division—Getting Texans Involved
At night, when the lights go down...
Night time in Texas can be a very diverse time for wildlife as we see in this newsletter. Bats to barbed-wire cactus, toads to nighthawks, there is a lot happening around the state after the sun goes down. As Billy Lambert tells us, a camera in the right spot can introduce you to a lot of surprises you may not have known were there!
A reminder, this is our second last newsletter that will be printed as a hard copy. If you want to continue receiving Eye on Nature after October 2013, you need to sign up for reminders that the newsletter has been posted online. You can do this by clicking "Email Subscriptions for Newsletters" at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/newsletters.
Searching Texas Caves for Signs of WNS
By Mylea Bayless
I step tentatively along the tiny ledge above a chasm that drops off ominously into the darkness of the cave. A narrow beam of light flits confidently through the dark, and a whispered voice beckons: "Quick! Climb down here. There are a lot of bats hibernating in this lower room!" I am hardly a seasoned caver, but Jim Kennedy, BCI's longtime cave specialist, certainly is – and it shows.
Photo © Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International, www.batcon.org
Beauty in the Evening
By Anna Strong
For a few summers after college, I re-affirmed my choice of studying plants when I found myself running around Big Bend National Park at night as a volunteer for Bat Conservation International. BCI was studying the endangered Mexican long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris nivalis) and, among other things, its association to its food source in the park, the floral nectar of the 'century plant' or agave (specifically Havard agave or Agave havardiana). The experience triggered an ah-ha! moment in which the ease of studying immobile organisms became very apparent. Also, it became blindingly clear that working in the dark created a whole new world of intrigue and complications.
Things That Go Bump (and Click and Quonk and Burp...) in the Night
By Lee Ann Johnson Linam
Imagine a night on a roadside in the remote wilds of Starr County. As you step outside your car to check that funny sound your tire is making, you try not to worry about car problems but instead focus on how beautiful and lush South Texas will be after the heavy rains of the past few days.
Night Hiking In the Estero Llano Grande State Park
By John Yochum and Mark Klym
A visit to Texas state parks can introduce one to a wide variety of wildlife. A visit to Estero Llano Grande State Park, after the sun goes down, including a walk with the rangers often called an "owl prowl" can be especially rewarding for the nature enthusiast looking for something different!
Birding With Infrared Triggered Cameras
By Billy C. Lambert Jr.
Wildlife biologists are supposed to know everything. Well, I proved them wrong. Bird identification has never been one of my strong suits. Sure, I know the common species and the game birds, as well as a few of the other interesting species. But, when it comes to the smaller passerines (perching bird species) and the neotropical migrants, questions regarding their identity usually result in specific maybes.
Hawks of the Night Sky
By Mark Klym
"Peent." The call rang clear and loud as I left the headquarters building. "Peent." I looked around, but nearly missed them as they flew over the trees in the wildscape, hunting insects in the early evening. Their long wings flashed a sharp, white stripe just below the elbow on the wing.
From the Back Porch
A Night in Ol' San Antone
By Richard Heilbrun
The rushing Medina River seemed deafening in the otherwise still evening's air. I had heard this exact spot was the river crossing that General Santa Ana had chosen for his infamous approach to the Alamo, and as the army of footsteps approached, and as crunching on gravel got louder and louder, the outlook for own my victory tonight grew more dismal. I knew that she could hear us breathing, and though we had the cover of darkness, she had the upper hand.
Did You Know?
- Did you know that grasslands were once widespread in west Texas?
- Did you know that Texas is home to three species of horned lizards?
- Did you know that beetles are now being used to help control salt cedar in Texas?
- Did you know that the Desert Bighorn Sheep population in Texas may be as high as 1100 individuals?
- Did you know that Texas is home to two diverse mountain lion populations?
- Did you know that historically fire was the prime element in controlling brush encroachment in Texas?
Help protect native non-game species like the Horned Lizard with the purchase of the Horned Lizard license plate. The cost is just $30*, with $22 going directly to benefit the conservation of wildlife diversity in Texas.
Order online today and get your plate in just two weeks!
*In addition to regular vehicle registration fees.
This 10" full-color identification wheel is a helpful reference to keep nearby when you watch the hummingbirds. Sixteen hummingbird species are featured, all of which have been documented in Texas! For each bird, the wheel tells you its range in North America, Habitat Type, and distingishing features of both males and females.
Send $11.95 (shipping and handling included) to Texas Hummingbird Roundup, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744.