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LEARNING ABOUT NATURE  
Build a nestbox Click on species icon to see further info

 

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CLEVER NATURE

Animals are smarter than you think! Click here to see 10 of the smartest species revealed in 2009!

Bird-Banding. Safe or Harmful?

This article highlights the impact of penguin flipper tagging on reproduction and migration.

GARDENING FOR THE BEES

This weekend I noticed an abundance of wildflowers in bloom and only a couple of honeybees over my several acres. Recently the population of Bees has dramatically declined. This is possibly due to the increased use of pesticides and also the colony collapse disorder. Texas Bee Watchers has a website that provides a lot of information on identifying the bees. They provide a list of Texas Bee friendly plants for your garden. Here is an interesting article from the UK on what plants to grow to attract Bumblebees and of course the HoneyBees here in Texas too. We need to do all we can to help the bee population rebound. Gardening for the BEES

WILDLIFE REHABILITATION

A baby bird's best chance for survival is its mother. If the bird has feathers and is safe from fire ants, cats, dogs and people, just watch it from a distance to see if the mother bird is still caring for the fledgling .

If the birdis a nestling ( has no or few feathers) and you know where the nest is, then put it back.

If you do not know where the nest is, then try making a substitute nest. Use a berry basket or other container, and line it with grass and hang from a nearby tree. Watch to see if the mama bird takes care of the baby bird within an hour.. If not, then call a wildlife rebilitator

If the bird is hurt or sick ( unable to flutter wings, bleeding, wings drooping, weak or shivering)....then call a wildlife rehabilitator.

List of Texas Wildlife rehabilitators

Blackland Prairie Raptor Center is a non profit organization whose mission is to educate the public about Birds of Prey and their importance in the North Texas environment through outreach programming with live raptors.

They are also developing a permanent location as an educational center and rehab hospital for wild birds of prey when they become injured, sick, or orpaned here in North Texas.WRC provides compassionate care to sick, injured, and orphaned wild birds and small mammals for the purposes of release and education.

Last Chance Forever is a Bird of Prey Conservancy. It helps sick, injured, and orphaned birds of prey return to their natural habitat. Birds that are deemed non releasable and are not suffering physical pain are utilized as educational ambassadors and are provided permanent sanctuary. Located in San Antonio

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LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE CONSERVATION PROGRAM

The Canadian Wildlife Service (the federal government of Canada's wildlife agency), Wildlife Preservation Canada (a non-profit environmental organization) and the Loggerhead Shrike, migrans subspecies Recovery Team are seeking your assistance in the recovery of the Loggerhead Shrike, migrans subspecies, a federally-listed endangered species in Canada. The Loggerhead Shrike, migrans subspecies Recovery Program includes a captive breeding and release program; as part of this program, birds are banded and this year an extensive area of their breast colored. We are seeking assistance in reporting shrikes with colored breasts and/or wearing bands to obtain information on their wintering areas and migration routes.

LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE SIGHTINGS – Loggerhead Shrikes are declining across much of their range. In Canada , the migrans subspecies is considered critically endangered, with less than 25 pairs found in 2010. The vast majority of pairs now breed in Ontario . An extremely active and multi-faceted recovery program is underway for this species in Ontario , including a captive breeding and release program. This program has been releasing approximately 100 juvenile shrikes annually since 2006. While much is known and has been learned about this species, a critical piece of the puzzle is still missing: where exactly do these birds spend the winter? To maximize our chances of locating wintering areas and better define migration routes we will be coloring the breast of released young produced from the captive breeding program, to make them more detectable by birders. Birds have been released in July and August. Birds will have an extensive area of their breast colored in green, blue or purple. All released birds, and a large proportion of the wild population, are also color banded. If you see a shrike with a colored breast and/or wearing bands, please report it to Wildlife Preservation Canada at (EM: jessica@wildlifepreservation.ca , PH: 519-836-9314, FX: 519-836-8840). We will need details about specific location (GPS coordinates are ideal, but not essential) and color(s) (breast and/or bands) seen.

Thank you. 

 

Langley Island Project
The Tyler Audubon Society, working with Audubon Texas and the City of Tyler, has accepted a habitat improvement project at Langley Island funded by a Texas Commission On Environmental Quality (TCEQ) settlement thru the Supplemental Environmental Project Program. The project objective is to improve the access, enhance the habitat, and increase the educational value for visitors while maintaining the uniqueness of the island.

February 2011: We are back in business to finish the Langley Island Restoration project. Through the last 2 years many of you volunteered or have requested to help but the timing was never right. Usually I try to set up a meeting at Braums for people to meet and accept different tasks. This year I am trying to do this electronically via email and save people time. Following is a list of items that need to complete by May 1, 2011:

36 cedar boxes will be installed as cavity nests. They will be ready for installation by Feb 19. Six (6) have already been installed along the loop trail.

2.    3 screech owl size boxes will be installed on the island. I will have them by Feb 19

3.    Installation of Trail markers and signs along the island perimeter has begun. The trail follows the path cleared by forester prior to the burn and has been marked by plastic ribbon.

4.    2 Raptor platforms are being built for installation starting March 1

5.    3 Barred owl boxes must be built and installed by April 1.
6.    The existing duck boxes must be cleaned for the coming season. Several more will be installed from our spare stock. One needs a little repair.
7.     Installation of the remaining Langley Island usage signs.

The raptor platforms will be installed by Paul Squyres and David Sage in March 

All other tasks are unassigned.  Please reply by Feb. 9th as to what assignment you may want to help with and when. I can then schedule myself to be there if necessary.  I am not available Feb 5 nor March 20th

Thanks

Joe Marsey

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Tyler Audubon Society, City To Restore Langley Island On Lake Tyler By CASEY MURPHY
Staff Writer

The Tyler Audubon Society is gearing up to restore the natural habitat on Lake Tyler's Langley Island.

The project will begin in March and will be aimed at restoring and enhancing the habitat quality of the now-overgrown island.
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ARTICLE IN TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH Jan 28, 2010

Tyler Audubon Society, City To Restore Langley Island On Lake Tyler

By CASEY MURPHY
Staff Writer
The Tyler Audubon Society (TAS) will be working with Audubon, Texas, and the city of Tyler on the project, which will be funded by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

In the 1960s and 1970s, TAS planted thousands of plants on the island and maintained the vegetation. The unmanaged island since has become overgrown with pines and hardwoods, according to the city.

"There is limited habitat and structural diversity throughout (the island) due to limited sunlight because of the dense pine canopy and a thick layer of pine needle ground cover," TAS members said.

TAS plans to increase the diversity and distribution of habitat types and the complexity of vegetative structure, as well as supplement the island with roosting and nesting structures.

Certified Forester Jeff Williams, of Williams Forestry, will begin a prescribed burn of the island within the next three months, depending on weather conditions. The burn will open the canopy and remove the pine-needled ground cover, allowing for growth because of an increase in sunlight. TAS plans to reseed the island with a native plant seed mix and add plants to prevent invasion by non-native species now on the surrounding lakeshore.

To protect the island from erosion and prevent fire debris from entering the water supply, a 100-foot buffer around the perimeter of the island will not be burned. The initial burn will be followed by a series of low-intensity burns on a three- to five- year rotation for quality maintenance.

Whitehouse Boy Scout Troops 248 and 354 will install wood duck boxes around the island for roosting and nesting platforms to attract Egrets, Herons and other birds to increase the island's habitat diversity.

Once the work is complete, cleanup and trash removal is planned, and trails along the island's perimeter will be marked for educational use during the day. There is no nighttime visitation permitted on the island, which primarily is used for observing nature and birding activities. Camping, picnicking and hunting are not allowed.

TCEQ's Supplemental Environmental Project Program funds environmentally beneficial projects, such as Langley Island, with money collected in fines, fees and penalties for environmental violations.

TAS is asking for the community's help with the project. If you are interested in helping, call Joe Marsey at 903-825-0123. Marsey is project coordinator for Langley Island and former president of TAS.

 

Bellwood Project update by Dolph Miller
  The master plan presented to the City Council in June by Planning Concepts has been approved. Jane Purtle and I have met with Planning Concepts on several occasions to express our concerns as Audubon members and as local citizens. The master plan as presented to the City Council contains several items suggested by Jane and myself: extending the trail to connect with Cascades trails at the dam, special attention (preservation) to wetland areas and reed beds as well as recognizing and facilitating the teaching potential of
the area. It was hoped the Bellwood Lake area would be a dedicated natural area, however, this will not be the case as the project stands today. Considering the economic forces involved it appears there will still be a portion of the property suitable for birding, as one gets further away from the proposed development.
At present the Bellwood Lake project is on hold by the city and the resort developer as a result of economic conditions. In my recent conversation with Gregory Morgan, Director of Tyler Water Utilities, I asked if he felt the project would pick up anytime soon. He did not see it moving forward until the developer is able to construct the New Sunnybrook extension from Loop 323 to Hwy. 31 and he did not feel this would happen anytime soon. Progress on the project is determined by the New Sunnybrook extension since the present entrance to Bellwood Park does not allow for heavy equipment to be moved into the area due to the low overhead railroad crossing.


CONSERVATION NEWS

(Previous news articles are here)

Tiny songbird northern wheatear traverses the world
By Victoria Gill Science reporter, BBC Nature
Wheatear with data logger (c) Heiko SchmaljohannThe trackers weighed just 1.4 grams and attach via a soft, elastic harness
Miniature tracking devices have revealed the epic 30,000km (18,640 miles) migration of the diminutive northern wheatear.
The birds, which weigh just 25g (0.8oz), travel from sub-Saharan Africa to their Arctic breeding grounds.
"Scaled for body size," the scientists report, "this is the one of the longest round-trip migratory journeys of any bird in the world.
The team reports its findings in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.
Alaskan landscape - the breeding ground of the northern wheatearThe team tagged the wheatears on their breeding grounds in Alaska (pictured) and Canada
"Think of something smaller than an [American] robin, but a little larger than a finch raising young in the Arctic tundra and then a few months later foraging for food in Africa for the winter," said one of the lead researchers, Prof Ryan Norris from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.
The species is of particular interest to scientists, because it has one of the largest ranges of any songbird in the world; with breeding grounds in the eastern Canadian Arctic, across Greenland, Eurasia and into Alaska.
Prior to this work though, it was not clear where the birds spent the winter.
Heiko Schmaljohann, from the Institute of Avian Research in Wilhelmshaven, Germany, was a member of the team that carried out this study.
He and his colleagues visited the wheatears' breeding grounds in Alaska and Canada and fitted 46 birds with the satellite tracking devices.
"The [trackers] weigh 1.4g, including a harness that loops around the birds' legs," he told BBC Nature.
 “
Northern wheatear (c) Heiko Schmaljohann
We totally underestimated the flight capability of birds in terms of migration”
Heiko Schmaljohann Institute of Avian Research

These data loggers recorded the bird's position twice a day for 90 days. Four trackers that the team managed to retrieve revealed that individual wheatears spent the winter in northern parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
The Alaskan birds travelled almost 15,000km (9,000 miles) each way - crossing Siberia and the Arabian Desert, and travelling, on average, 290km per day.
"This is the longest recorded migration for a songbird as far as we know," said Dr Schmaljohann.
Although the Canadian birds did not travel as far - approximately 3,500km - they had to cross the northern Atlantic Ocean.
"That's a very big barrier for a small songbird," Dr Schmaljohann explained.
Henry McGhie, a zoologist and head of collections at Manchester Museum described the birds' journey as "very impressive".
"We do see Greenland wheatears in the UK on migration, usually on the coast," he said.
"The amazing thing [about this study] is that it gives us a glimpse into the extraordinary lives of these tiny birds.
"When we see them, they're in the middle of a journey they do twice every year. When you think of the challenges they must face, you wonder how on earth they do it."
Dr Schmaljohann added: "[In the past] we totally underestimated the flight capability of birds in terms of migration.
"It seems that bird migration is limited by the size of the Earth. If the planet was larger, they would probably migrate even further."