Our Wild Texas – October 2019

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Mysterious Mountain Lions

mountain lion, video link

Mountain lions are one of two large predators that remain in Texas (black bears are the other), and you may know them as cougars, pumas or panthers. Contrary to popular belief, they're not endangered and are found all over Texas. But they're very shy and rarely seen by people.

These big cats avoid developed areas, and that willingness to adapt combined with a secretive nature have helped mountain lions continue to survive in the wild. Read the Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine story, The Lion King, for more about sightings. If you see a mountain lion, avoid it, for its sake and your own. Let's continue to coexist with these magnificent animals. 

The Butterflies Are Coming! Got Nectar?

Monarch on white flower, link to video

The monarchs are headed this way. Their numbers are up, and they'll need to refuel on nectar when they get here, so now is a good time to water your butterfly-friendly autumn blooms and maybe plant a few more.  

If you don't have a butterfly garden, Oct.-Dec. is the best time to plant in most of Texas. Your flowers also support other migrating pollinators, like the nosy American snout – read about them in our blog post, A World Full of Butterflies.

Fall migration means it's time to kick off the Texas Pollinator BioBlitz challenge! Take photos of butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and other pollinators, then share them on iNaturalist and social media (#TXpollinators) from Oct. 4 - Oct. 20. You can also take part in events at parks and other sites. Join us – it's free, it's fun! 

Return of the West Texas Hummers!

hummingirds at feeder, link to live cam video

Each year, from July through Oct., almost every U.S. species of hummingbird passes through West Texas, fueling up on nectar and tiny insects as they head south for the winter. Watch the West Texas hummingbird cam to see these frisky birds in action. 

If you care about birds and your community does too, encourage your city to apply to be an official Bird City Texas. We've partnered with Audubon Texas to create this program that will help people protect birds and their habitats where they live. The Bird City Texas certification program is accepting applications through Nov. 29, 2019.

Hummingbird license plate link

7 Simple Actions to Help Birds

7 Simple Actions to Help Birds

The findings of an extensive study released in Sept. 2019 show that the overall bird population has gone down 29% since 1970 – nearly 3 billion birds. And a surprising amount of common, backyard bird species have been hard hit.

Here are a few of the simple actions you can take to support birds in your area:

  1. Make windows safer
  2. Keep cats indoors
  3. Avoid pesticides
  4. Avoid single-use plastics

See All 7 Simple Actions

5 Fall Tree Planting Tips

man removing tree from pot

Plant a tree – it's is an excellent way to support wildlife long-term. Even when they've died, trees continue to host a variety of wild things.

National Arbor Day is in spring, but in Texas, it's the first Friday of Nov. This is so that newly-planted trees can establish roots before the summer heat cranks up. Which brings us to tip #1:

  1. Plant trees in Oct., Nov. and Dec.
  2. Choose a native tree species that grows well in your ecoregion.
  3. Place the tree the appropriate distance from a house.
  4. Distribute compost directly underneath the top mulch.
  5. Water deeply but infrequently to help your new tree develop an extensive root system.

For more tips, watch the short video, How to Plant a Tree. And keep this Chinese proverb in mind: "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now."

RAWA Can Help Us Protect Our Bats

bats flying out of Kickapoo Caverns

We live in the battiest state in the U.S., home to 32 of the nation’s 47 bat species, and visitors from around the world flock here to do some bat-watching

Yet bats, like more than 1,300 other species of concern in Texas, need our help. Their karst cave habitats are threatened, some bat populations are in decline, and white-nose syndrome, a bat disease, was recently discovered here.

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would provide new funding to help boost bat conservation, education and related eco-tourism. But it won’t pass unless people who care, people like you, take action. Help by contacting your U.S. Representatives to let them know you expect their support of RAWA. #RecoverWildlife 

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