Our Wild Texas – January 2023

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Where To See Bald Eagles and Their Nests

Bald eagle taking stick to its nest, video link

January through March is the perfect time to look for the iconic bald eagle. It's their nesting season, which means there's a lot of activity. Bald eagles reuse the same giant nest year after year, which makes it easier for you to find them.

To locate eagles nearby, use iNaturalist bald eagle observations, where you can also report your own sighting. Help biologists keep track of active nests with Texas Nature Trackers project Texas Eagle Nests.  

Bald eagles were on the endangered species list from 1966-2006 due to pesticide poisoning. A conservation success story, they're now thriving. Take the time to see these magnificent birds in the wild, and share your observations. 

Tree for Wildlife: Texas Mountain Laurel

Tiger Swallowtail on mountain laurel, video link

You may have smelled a mountain laurel before you saw one. In spring these little trees are covered with long clusters of purple flowers that smell like grape bubblegum – and butterflies find it irresistible. Once established, mountain laurels endure heat, freezes and drought, so they're grown in Texas from the southeast to the Davis Mountains.

A mountain laurel transplanted from the wild rarely survives, so get yours from a reputable garden center or raise your own from seed. Be patient – they take a few years to bloom. Find out more in the video Texas Mountain Laurel | Plant of the Month

Great Texas Birding Classic ad, with link

Tips for a Successful Nest Box 

Nest box installation, video link

Many birds will nest in birdhouses (nest boxes) made by people, but most insist on specific shapes and sizes. Where you mount the nest box and the direction it faces can also affect its success. 

Find the right fit and placement for your box with the Right Bird, Right House interactive tool (region is Southwest). 

Purple martin house with purple martin

The tool offers downloadable plans for houses, shows construction difficulty, range of the bird species and more – see the American robin example.

Learn to install a nest box on a freestanding pole with a predator guard by watching the video How to Install a Nest Box

Give Back to Nature – Join Master Naturalists

Master Naturalists with net, video link

If your New Year's resolution is to give back to nature, or if you want to help your community learn about our natural resources, become a Texas Master Naturalist (TMN).

To become a TMN, you'll receive training in wildlife and natural resource management by experts in the field. 

Master Naturalists in wildflower field

Find a chapter near you and register for the next training session.

Once you finish training, you can provide your community with nature-related activities, demonstrations and other projects. Have a positive effect on the world around you – become a Texas Master Naturalist.

Join the Worldwide Great Backyard Bird Count

A variety of birds on a branch, video link

Birds are found worldwide, including near you. So participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count Feb. 17 to 20 and celebrate birds with people around the world. 

If you want to bring more birds to your backyard, check out the list of birds, what they eat and where they like to eat it. If you think you've spotted a sick bird, refer to What Do I Do if I See a Sick Bird?

Mark your calendar now and join the world in the Great Backyard Bird Count! It's free and fun to take part, and your observations are important. Find out more by watching the video Join Us for the Annual Great Backyard Bird Count.

Roadrunner license plate, with link

Texas Conservation Hero David Bamberger

David Bamberger outside with dog, video link

David Bamberger's mother gave him a book by Louis Bromfield called Pleasant Valley, and it inspired him to purchase 5,500 acres of waterless, eroded scrubland and bring it back to life. 

The result of his effort is the Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve. It's a haven for wildlife, lush and full of natural springs and biodiversity. Bamberger is considered a visionary, and his restoration methods are now used by many others. See the results of his work yourself by taking a public tour, and watch the video Selah, Water from Stone

One person's action can have a tremendous, ongoing impact. Gift someone a book about conservation or write one, volunteer, become a Master Naturalist or a biologist, or buy some abused land and revive it. Conserving our natural world is worth the effort. 

Did You Know?

striped skunk in grass

February is when skunks wander around looking for mates. They’re nocturnal, so keep an eye out when you’re driving at night to avoid hitting them. Find out more in the Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine story, Love Stinks.

Messages from Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine advertisers:

Visit Matagorda for Birding, with link

Birding in Baytown with link

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