This month marks my completion of seventeen years of writing a column in the Kerrville Daily Times on “Birding in the Hill Country.” Thanks to the encouragement of my readers, I have found the support to continue writing about a subject that has been near to my heart for almost fifty years. My goal has always been to promote the value of our feathered friends for their contributions to making our world a better place. Collectively they provide a wide range of services from keeping insect populations in control to cleaning our roadways of carrion. The birds’ beauty and behavioral habits give us many hours of pleasure watching them carry on with their lives. Many of us have feeders around our homes to encourage birds to live in our neighborhoods. Witnessing numerous hummingbirds swarming around a feeder for a sip of sugar water can entertain us for hours. Hearing a Northern Cardinal singing a song of cheer on a spring morning soothes our souls and relaxes our tensions. These are reasons that birding is the number one spectator sport in our country providing enjoyment to nearly 75 million people. By writing about the many aspects of birdlife, I have a platform to share my knowledge on how we can help birds survive in a continuing changing world. Most bird species are able to keep up with threatening aspects in their environments, but a few like the Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo were suffering from cowbird nest paratization. With the help of many organizations in controlling cowbird numbers, these two bird species seem to moving towards stabilization in maintaining their numbers for survival. On the other hand, we have a few species that are currently invading the Hill Country, including the White-winged Doves, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, and Crested Caracara. Various facts explain why and how these birds decided to change their migration plans and become permanent Hill Country residents. Birds that can adapt to changes around them increase their chances of survival. I want to also acknowledge the contribution of Kevin and Linda Pillow in promoting birding in the Hill Country. This month, ten years ago, the Pillows opened Wild Birds Unlimited store on the Junction Highway to provide our area residents a place to purchase most everything related to birding. Most of their products cover the entire range of needs of birders, including feed, feeders, birdbaths, binoculars, educational materials, and art. The best way to determine what they have is to visit the store and see all of the birding items they offer. The Pillows are not just merchants, but avid birders themselves. They sponsor birding trips to various venues around the Hill Country, have speakers talk about birds and other wildlife, and give talks to various organizations. They also offer generous seed donations to area nature centers. If you have questions about anything related to birding, you can give them a call and get their insight and experience regarding the issue at hand. To help the Pillow’s celebrate their tenth anniversary, I will be at their Wild Birds Unlimited store in the River Oaks Shopping Center from 11:00AM until noon today (Friday October 10). I hope you will stop in for a visit and discuss birds with me. Thanks, too, for your readership of my column for the past seventeen years. I look forward to continuing the birding column for years to come.

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