Our Wild Texas – January 2021

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Black Triangles

Beavers: Nature’s Master Builder

North American beaver swimming, link to video

Beavers can be found in waterbodies across Texas and are easily identified by their large, flat tails. They build dams to create a pond, then build a lodge in it and use the pond as a barrier against predators. These ponds also create wildlife habitat and help reduce flooding and erosion.

Beavers are a keystone species. This means they have a major effect on an ecosystem and if removed, the ecosystem changes dramatically. Find out more about these little lumberjacks in our fun video, Ray Roberts Lake State Park: The North American Beaver.

If you want to see beavers in action, check iNaturalist for recent sightings. You'll also find them on the Prairies and Pineywoods Great Texas Wildlife Trails. Look for them around sunrise and sunset, and watch the video, How to Recognize Beaver Activity, for more tips. Remember – always keep a safe distance between you and wildlife.

Add These 4 Wildlife Attractors to Your Yard

white squirrel at water tray

1. Water – Wildlife needs clean water, especially in hot weather. An easy way to support wildlife is to provide water year-round. Try these tips for water features, then enjoy this video of frolicking cedar waxwings at a bird bath.   

Bluebird entering nest box, play button, video link

2. Nest Box – Different birds prefer different sizes of nest boxes. We put together a list of nest box dimensions so you can buy or build one for the birds you want to attract. Watch our video on installing a nest box for tips, then mount yours by early Feb. for spring use.

Bee box on tree, video link

3. Native Bee Condo – Texas has many species of native solitary bees, and a bee block will attract these super-pollinators. They're not aggressive because they don't defend a hive. Watch our video about adding a bee block to your garden

hummingbird on trumpet vine

4. Native Plants – Plants provide wildlife with food and places to hide, sleep and escape summer heat. If you choose native plants, they're likely to survive that heat year after year. Try Audubon’s native plants database to find the best ones for your area. 

Join Great Texas Birding Classic, with link

The Danger of Using Garden Netting

garden with bird deterrents, video link

Using netting to keep birds out of your garden is convenient, but it can be deadly. Animals of all kinds can become hopelessly entangled, suffer and die before they can be rescued. 

For tips from a wildlife biologist on humane alternatives to bird netting, watch our video, How to Keep Birds Out of Your Garden Without Netting.

Report Winter Monarchs 

Monarch on milkweed

The monarch butterflies we see in fall are migrating to Mexico. But some are not reaching their destination; they're being lured to stay in Texas by fall-blooming milkweed. While milkweed is necessary for them to lay eggs in spring, by mid-fall it becomes an unhealthy distraction. 

Studies are being done to find out how many monarchs are overwintering in the U.S. and how it affects their survival. If you see wild monarchs in Texas from Dec.-March, report your sighting

If your milkweed is still blooming by Oct., cut it back. This puts it on pause while the monarchs pass through. It should bloom again by spring, when it's needed. Grow other fall-blooming, nectar-producing plants to support monarchs during their fall migration.

Monarch license plate - link to sign up for plate release alert

Protecting Our Wildlife Heritage

Meredith Longoria examines wildlife by a river, video link

Meredith Longoria isn't afraid to fight the hard fight to protect wildlife. As our Nongame and Rare Species Program leader, she streamlines policies and works with landowners in ongoing efforts to protect our most vulnerable wildlife. Watch the video, Protecting Our Wild Heritage: Meredith Longoria, to learn more about her work. 

If you're interested in working with wildlife, consider a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department career. If you're in college, apply to be an intern

Did you know?

Balloons released at weddings, gender reveals and other events are killing marine life and other animals that ingest them or get tangled in the ribbon. To protect wildlife, do not release balloons outdoors.

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The Our Wild Texas newsletter is made possible in part
by the generous support of Toyota: