Our Wild Texas – April 2020

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Our Wild Texas
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Watch for Butterflies in Your Backyard

black butterfly on Indian Paintbrush flower, video link

Spring is an excellent time for butterfly watching, even if you can't go far due to pandemic safety measures. We have more than 400 species of butterflies in our state, and it's likely some have recently flown through your backyard. Watch for them on sunny days, and learn to identify different species. To encourage these winged jewels to stay a while, try these 3 things:

  1. Grow butterfly-friendly plants in pots or in your garden  include nectar-producing flowers and plants caterpillars will eat, including milkweed. 
  2. Avoid pesticides. Most will kill butterflies and their caterpillars.
  3. Don't rake leaves in fall/winter, some butterfly pupae overwinter in leaf litter.

The Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine story Backyard Beauties has more tips to help you get started butterfly watching today.

If You See Baby Wildlife…

fawn, with video link

Baby deer (called fawns) are adorable. But should you ever see one alone in the wild, resist the urge to kidnap it. A deer mother may leave her fawn alone for 12 hours at a time, and unless the fawn is in immediate danger, just let it be. To learn more about fawns and their moms, watch our short video, What to Do If You Find an Abandoned Fawn.

baby birds, with video link

Did you ever discover a baby bird on the ground, and have the urge to take it under your wing? In some cases a chick may need help, but many times it's best to just lock your pets inside and let the chick be tended to by its parents. Watch our short video, What to Do If You Find a Fallen Baby Bird or Nest for tips on reuniting chicks with their parents. 

Wildlife and Your Community

hand holds phone, with video link

City Nature Challenge is on – with modifications. We urge participants to follow all health guidelines provided by local government. 

Join us from 4/24-27 by photographing wildlife safely and close to home. Then share your observations on iNaturalist with #yardchallenge. Watch this short video on how to make an observation. New this year is the Seek app, a kid-friendly version of the iNaturalist app. 

Bird City Texas Logo

Bird City Texas, a program that certifies communities as active leaders in bird-friendly conservation, has awarded certification to Bastrop, Dallas, Houston and Port Aransas. These communities have all done incredible work in habitat management, community engagement and threat reduction for birds. 

For communities interested in applying for certification: the 2020 Bird City Texas application cycle begins in summer. 

5 Tips for Becoming a Backyard Birder  

cardinal bird on a fence, video link

If you have to stay close to home, use it as an opportunity to become a backyard birder. Birds are very active attracting mates and rearing chicks in spring, and many avian visitors are passing through. Get an idea of what birds you can expect to see with Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine's list of Texas backyard birds.

Watch birds from your porch, lawn or window in early morning or late afternoon – and keep a camera close by to capture their antics. Here are 5 ways to encourage visits from our feathered friends: 

  1. Water: Birds are amusing when they take baths, and they need drinking water, so place 1"-2" deep containers (like plant saucers) of fresh water in an open area. Containers should be refilled daily and cleaned weekly.
  2. Food: Try raw sunflower seeds or raw peanuts in a feeder or on the ground. If you hang a hummingbird feeder, clean it each week. 
  3. Shelter: if you don't have a wildscape yet, buy or build a birdhouse or two.
  4. Avoid Pesticides: Many birds eat insects and spiders. 
  5. Keep Cats Indoors: Cats kill birds, so birds will avoid areas with cats.

Watch our short video with tips from a wildlife biologist on how to get started birding. Be patient if the birds don't show up right away... they will come. 

Toyota Tundra link

Relax With a Wildlife Live Stream

Bolivar Flats, with video link

Wildlife live streams can be entertaining, calming and a little bit addictive. Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine has put together a list of some current live streams, including one on the Bolivar Flats that allows you to take control of the camera. A very popular live stream is the West Texas Hummingbirds cam – the frenzy of hummer antics should ramp up in May. 

Did You Know...

April 22 is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. The creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Endangered Species Act were both in response to Earth Day demonstrations in 1970. It is now observed around the world as a day to raise environmental awareness and engage citizens in creating a cleaner, healthier world.

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Nature Rocks