Our Wild Texas – Winter 2018

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Black Triangles

Sea Turtles Rescued from Paralyzing Cold

game warden with a boat of turtles

Nearly 3,500 cold-stunned sea turtles have been rescued so far this winter – a state record. Very cold weather has a paralyzing effect on these turtles, causing them to wash up on shore or float helplessly, becoming easy prey. 

Since all 5 species of sea turtles found in Texas are federally listed as endangered or threatened, and we don't want to lose any of them. That's why a team of Texas Game Wardens, partner organizations, Coastal Fisheries staff and volunteers spent days pulling cold-stunned turtles from the icy water, picking them up off the beach and transporting them to shelters. Once it warmed up, the team released the turtles back into the Gulf. 

Sea turtles can get stranded any time of year. If you see one, please call 1-866-TURTLE-5 to report it. To see more images of turtle rescues, visit the Texas Game Warden Twitter and Facebook.

cold-stunned turtle in towel, link to video

Feeding Birds in Winter

spotted towhee bird link to video

Wildscaping for birds is one of the best ways to ensure they have food and shelter. And once you establish native plants in a wildscape, they typically require very little maintenance

Use this website to find native plants that attract birds in your specific area and this list of Texas natives for your ecoregion. Look for plants that have berries, seeds or nuts to attract birds in winter.  

birds flying onto feeder video link

If you'd like to set out feeders for birds, you can buy one or make your own. Either way, it's important to clean feeders regularly to keep the birds healthy.

Black oil sunflower seed is a good food and available at grocers. Add a suet cake, a water source, and you've got a bird buffet! Feeders should only supplement the birds' diet, so let them run out on occasion. 

Feeder Recipes PDF

Volunteer to Help Our Wild Things 

volunteer with turtle

Many of this year's cold-stunned sea turtles were rescued by volunteers. If you'd like to help wild things, take a look at our volunteer opportunites. We've got wildlife-related short and long-term options as diverse as Texas, including crab trap removal and opportunities at Wildlife Management Areas.

volunteer woman planting a tree

If you'd like to dive more deeply into volunteering, consider becoming a Texas Master Naturalist. This program offers training and certification, preparing you for leadership roles in local natural resource conservation efforts. Look for a chapter near you.


Prime Time to See Bald Eagles

bald eagle at Lake Somerville State Park

January through March are excellent months to catch sight of the iconic bald eagle. Winter migrants are here, and breeding pairs are sitting on nests or tending their chicks. 

At one time bald eagles were on the endangered species list, which prompted  conservation laws to be passed and the Environmental Protection Agency to ban the pesticide DDT. Eagles are thriving once again but are still vulnerable to pollution, habitat loss and poaching.

Use Great Texas Wildlife Trails maps to find a spot where bald eagles can be found. Then take some time to seek out these majestic birds, a national conservation success story.

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glowing scorpion video

Glowing Scorpions

Under a black light, scorpions glow like a 70's poster. This trait makes it easier to find them since they're nocturnal, but scientists have yet to discover the real purpose of their fluorescence. Check out this video of a black light night hike to see one glow. 

These arachnids are complex enough to have maternal traits, like carrying their babies around with them. They're also vital to the food web, and their disappearance in the wild indicates serious habitat decline. Scorpions in Texas aren't deadly (unless you're allergic) but do have a sting similar to a bee. So we recommend cup-and-postcard removal if one gets in your home, rather than the boot heel. 

La Quinta donates to state parks link

Thanks to the following sponsors and partners:

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