The 111th Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is now history and all of the numbers are being tallied to give ornithologists some empirical data to consider relative to past count data. The CBC data is more important in establishing long term trends than providing... read more

If you see a bird in a tree, how do you tell the birders with you where to find the bird? First, indicate the specific tree where the bird is by using your index finger as a pointer. Occasionally one will hear someone on birding trip say, “there is a bi... read more

About four o’clock Sunday afternoon, I heard a familiar late winter/early spring sound – Sandhill Cranes using their long tracheal tubes to make rolling guttural sounds as they battled a north wind. I went outside and saw a very large “V” formatio... read more

Soon the noise level created by birds will be on the rise in the Hill Country as the summer residents begin to return from their winter sojourn in the tropics. I do not wish to cast any disparaging remarks about the sounds uttered by my feathered friend w... read more

Birding Ethics and Etiquette Birding, like every sport, has certain rules of conduct while you participate in your avocation. Most of these rules follow common sense, respect of law and rules, and good social behavior. I want to say without equivocation t... read more

With the spring migration comes a wider variety of color in our summer residents, most notably the members of the oriole family. These attractive birds showcase the yellow and orange section of the color spectrum. On the yellow end we have the Scott’s a... read more

It is that time of the year that four words can describe what is happening in the bird world: coming, going, passing and staying. Our summer birds are coming; our winter birds are going; some species are passing through; and the rest of our bird populatio... read more

I spent part of last week in the Chihuahuan Desert within the Christmas Mountains, located immediately north of Big Bend National Park. I went there to help my friend who built an oasis to attract birds and other wildlife, mend her water storage ponds. Wi... read more

Over the past few weeks I have written about the unusual summer, and year, in which we have experienced drought conditions. It is not the last drought we will face, but I think all of us are ready for nature to change course, particularly our wildlife. Ou... read more

If you haven’t purchased bird seed recently, you may not be aware of the rapidly increasing cost of bird seed, particularly black oil sunflower seed. The price of black oil sunflower seed is now more than $0.70 per pound. In the past couple of years the... read more

I am asked from time to time to recommend bird book to buy. My response is, “what is your main purpose for the book – field guide, reference?” A few years ago, I gave up trying to buy every bird book that was published, as my library was growing out... read more

A few years ago a friend recommended that I visit a colony of Atlantic Puffins on Machias Seal Island off the east coast of Maine. Her comment was this birding venue would have converted her from a non-birder to a serious birder, even if she had not had a... read more

In addition to visiting the Atlantic Puffins on Machias Seal Island during my recent trip to Maine, I spent ten days birding other venues around the state. The visit also allowed enjoying temperatures that were far cooler than those being endured in the T... read more

At the days of triple digits continue during this unbelievable dry spell, the stress on wildlife in the Hill Country continues to build. Wildlife survival requires three things to be successful: food, water and cover. I have often written about the import... read more

Another week passes with no rain in sight; Texas misses a possible chance with Tropical Storm Lee remaining in the mid Gulf of Mexico states. The reports I have read indicate that we might not get relief until next year. I am sure you agree that if we can... read more

Another week passes with no rain in sight; Texas misses a possible chance with Tropical Storm Lee remaining in the mid Gulf of Mexico states. The reports I have read indicate that we might not get relief until next year. I am sure you agree that if we can... read more

I often use the terms, “juvenile,” “immature,” and “adult,” but I am not sure I have ever explained them before. These terms are used to describe the stages in the life of a bird. These stages refer to maturity levels and molting events. In ad... read more

I presume most of you are enjoying the first real taste of cold weather that rode into the Hill Country on the back of a strong “norther” this week. The long hot summer is trying to hang on, but I hope we can enjoy our temperate winter and not have to... read more

Santa and Mrs. Cardinal realized that Christmas was fast approaching and they needed to have some kind of festive event for all the residents of Birdville. They recalled the wonderful tree they decorated one year and the great choral party where all of th... read more

Last week I wrote about birding books you might consider as Christmas gifts to your birding friends. The other “necessity” for birders is a good pair of binoculars to allow them to see all of the detail in a bird’s plumage necessary for a positive i... read more

Thinking about the Whooping Cranes and their plight to survive during the past century led me to consider their possible fate – extinction. The cranes were on the brink of extinction in 1941 when fewer than twenty individuals we still alive. From this l... read more

Sometimes I select a topic based on a question I receive either by telephone or e-mail I feel other readers might have similar questions. This week’s question was “why did two small birds attack a vulture who was minding his or her own business on a t... read more

During the twenty years I lived in Houston, I made many springtime pilgrimages from High Island east of Galveston down the Gulf Coast to Brownsville and then up the Rio Grande River to Falcon Lake near Zapata. I often spent a four day weekend during the v... read more

The spring migration party is over and now we must return to the normal birding routines of watching our permanent and summer resident birds in our backyards, or at a favorite birding venue such as a nature center or park. It is, or will soon be, vacation... read more

This past Saturday I went to the South Llano River State Park near Junction to see what birds might be coming to the wonderful bird blinds the park has installed in several habitat locations. Each blind has a water feature and feeding spots to attract the... read more

Carolina Chickadees are another of our birds that fall into the “take them for granted” group because they are so common and very small. If you have bird feeders up in your yard, the chances of having the little sprites paying a visit every day when i... read more

Only if you have lived in the eastern half of the state and were somewhat aware of the birds around you, would you likely miss seeing the white egrets that spend their days with grazing cattle. They are appropriately named “Cattle Egrets” because of t... read more

This week while working on a new pollinator garden in Lady Bird Johnson Park in Fredericksburg, volunteers saw a small yellow bird was seen flying between two groves of trees. That no black was evident in the plumage ruled out a Lesser Goldfinch, made a c... read more

Every week I receive a number of internet items by e-mail from friends and readers pertaining to a wide variety of nature subjects. Some are collections of outstanding photography, while others chronicle life in the natural world that might make you laugh... read more

Spring and fall migrations are amazingly different, as in the spring the males are decked out in their finest plumage, but in the fall the juveniles, females and molting males all tend to blend together. Roger Tory Peterson coined the phrase “confusing ... read more

Now that fall has officially arrived, it is time to consider the little chores that bird enthusiasts need to do in preparation for the fall and winter seasons. Migration is in full swing, but many of our summer residents are still hanging around, most not... read more

After writing more than 700 articles for this column, I thought that I had written about every conceivable bird that might appear in the Hill Country. After seeing so many Clay-colored Sparrows the past couple of weeks, I looked for my past column to see ... read more

This past weekend I attended a family reunion in the part of Texas where I spent my earlier years in Gonzales County among the mesquite trees and prickly pear. In that South Texas brush country lives a common and interesting bird, the Crested Caracara. Th... read more

Cooper’s Hawks may be the least recognized bird of prey that lives in the Hill Country. This hawk and his close relative, the Sharp-shinned Hawk, belong to the Accipiter family, a family of birds known for their hunting and flying skills. The name “ac... read more

This week a small woodpecker flew in front of my car and landed on a tree at the fence line; its white back instantly identified the bird a Downy Woodpecker. The downy, our smallest woodpecker in North America, is a bit smaller than our very common Ladder... read more

The yearend holiday season is a special time for birders to participate in the annual birding census surveys conducted in North America, the Caribbean, Latin America and some Pacific Islands. The 113th edition of the Christmas Bird Counts will be conducte... read more

For more than one hundred birders who came to Bay City from all over the state, alarm clocks started sounding off just after four o’clock in the morning to get people moving on today’s mission – to keep the Matagorda County/ Mad Island Christmas Bir... read more

Among the sixty thousand birders who are participating in the current 113th edition of the Christmas Bird Counts (CBC) only a few of us have had the experience to see and count endangered Whooping Cranes. Last week I had Whooping Cranes on two of my count... read more

I am always amused when readers send me notes about their “bully” hummingbirds. The writers describe how mean their bullies are to other birds by running them away from feeders that the aggressive hummingbirds feel are their own. Hummingbirds are not ... read more

A lot of national media attention has focused on children becoming bullies among their peers. Bullying has no place in our society, even though it has been with us throughout civilization. In wild kingdom, certain species have very aggressive demeanors an... read more

Purple Martins are the first of the spring migrants to find their way back to their summer homes in the Hill Country and across their breeding ranges. To my knowledge the earliest known arrival date in our area was on January fifth – not sure of the yea... read more

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Aliquam fringilla sem posuere pulvinar venenatis. Cras fringilla mauris nec nulla ali... read more

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Aliquam fringilla sem posuere pulvinar venenatis. Cras fringilla mauris nec nulla ali... read more

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Aliquam fringilla sem posuere pulvinar venenatis. Cras fringilla mauris nec nulla ali... read more

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Aliquam fringilla sem posuere pulvinar venenatis. Cras fringilla mauris nec nulla ali... read more

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Aliquam fringilla sem posuere pulvinar venenatis. Cras fringilla mauris nec nulla ali... read more

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Aliquam fringilla sem posuere pulvinar venenatis. Cras fringilla mauris nec nulla ali... read more

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Aliquam fringilla sem posuere pulvinar venenatis. Cras fringilla mauris nec nulla ali... read more

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Aliquam fringilla sem posuere pulvinar venenatis. Cras fringilla mauris nec nulla ali... read more

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Aliquam fringilla sem posuere pulvinar venenatis. Cras fringilla mauris nec nulla ali... read more

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Aliquam fringilla sem posuere pulvinar venenatis. Cras fringilla mauris nec nulla ali... read more

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Aliquam fringilla sem posuere pulvinar venenatis. Cras fringilla mauris nec nulla ali... read more

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Aliquam fringilla sem posuere pulvinar venenatis. Cras fringilla mauris nec nulla ali... read more

I have had the opportunity to spend this past week in the Lower Rio Grande Valley attending nature festivals, first at the Texas Butterfly Festival in Mission followed by the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival in Harlingen. The Lower Rio Grande Valley (Va... read more

In my article last week I tried to describe the emotions that birders go through in situations when choices are available as to where to spend our time. I mentioned that when push came to shove in choosing birds or butterflies, I chose birds and went to l... read more

I have often mentioned Sandhill Cranes in my columns, but it has been a long time since I featured them in an article. Most of the time we hear and see Sandhill Cranes during the spring and fall migration seasons as the flocks traverse the Hill Country en... read more

Thanksgiving Day has come and gone, but I think it is appropriate to honor the bird associated with this festive occasion, the Wild Turkey. I grew up on a small South Central Texas farm where we raised turkeys commercially, so I have many recollections of... read more

While walking along Live Oak Creek this week on my place in Gillespie County, I flushed a sparrow out of a heavy grass and brush cover along the creek. A closer look identified the bird as a White-throated Sparrow, a predominately eastern species whose ra... read more

If there were to be a beauty contest for the most beautiful duck in the world, the likely two finalists would be the North American Wood Duck and the Asian Mandarin Duck. Not only are their colors vivid and striking, both have crests and plumes that give ... read more

Consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent sempe... read more

Consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent sempe... read more

Consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent sempe... read more

Consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent sempe... read more

Consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent sempe... read more

Consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent sempe... read more

Consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent sempe... read more

  •  davidh
  •  

Consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent sempe... read more

Consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent sempe... read more

Consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent sempe... read more

Consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent sempe... read more

Consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent sempe... read more

Consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent sempe... read more

  •  davidh
  •  

Consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent sempe... read more

Consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent sempe... read more

Consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent sempe... read more

Consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent sempe... read more

Consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent sempe... read more

Consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent sempe... read more

Consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent semper bibendum bibendum. Mauris suscipit convallis ultrices. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec nisi vitae nisi vulputate porta. Praesent sempe... read more

As the end of the year approaches, so do the Christmas Bird Counts (CBC). This year the birding counts will mark the 114th time these annual bird surveys have been conducted in North America, Latin America, Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands. More than 60... read more

While conducting the West Kerr Christmas Bird Count this past Saturday, my team saw a yellow bellied/breasted woodpecker-type bird sitting high in a small deciduous tree. A closer look through binoculars showed a large white wing patch typical of a sapsuc... read more

The 2013-2014 Christmas Bird Counts officially closed on January 5 with mixed feelings likely existing among the counters. After doing three counts on the Gulf Coast and three here in the Hill Country, I am pleased that I do not have another one to do. We... read more

Living in the Hill Country allows birders to be located on the edges of ranges with both eastern and western affinities of bird species. Our area can mark the dividing line of closely related species such as the Eastern Towhee and the western Spotted Towh... read more

In the almost twenty years I have lived in the Hill Country, I have only heard or seen American Crows three times, the latest being the past two weeks. The two previous times the crows were apparently passing through the area as I only heard them once. Th... read more

I spent this past weekend chasing birds with the members of the Texas Ornithological Society at the annual winter meeting in Round Rock, just north and east of Austin. The main attraction to these meetings is going on a wide selection of field trips to va... read more

Shrikes are interesting birds in that they are songbird-sized, but act more like miniature hawks as they prey on other songbirds, large insects, and small mammals. Three members of the shrike family occur in North America, but only one is common in Texas,... read more

I have been feeding birds in my back yard for more than forty years and the numbers have varied over the years. Most of the birds could be classified as songbirds including goldfinches, titmice, chickadees, hummingbirds, sparrows and woodpeckers. During y... read more

If you look for Eastern and Spotted towhees in older bird field guidebooks, you will only find a “Rufous-sided Towhee.” The description was likely divided into “eastern type” and “western type.” Taxonomists decided in the 1980s to divide the R... read more

It has been an interesting winter and prelude to spring with colder than recent averages of winter temperatures, but unfortunately less than average amounts of rain. A few weeks ago in mid-February, I reported seeing over two hundred White-fronted Geese f... read more

  In last week’s column I mentioned that a rare northern visitor, a Long-tailed Duck, had made its way to the Fredericksburg waste water treatment pond on the east side of the city. This northern duck rarely makes its way to the Gulf Coast Region f... read more

  Trees use shade to reduce the competition from ground cover plants and to reduce potential fuel for wildfires that might destroy them. Here is a small remnant of live oak forest whose canopy has shaded out most of the light needed to sustain much plant... read more

Birders live for the time our summer residents begin to return from their tropical winter habitats in Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean Islands. Their return is somewhat like a faucet that develops a leak – a slow drip that increases s... read more

 Geology and Rock Exhibition  Some Hill Country rock formations date back for more than one billion years. This exhibit features one specimen from each geological formation in the Hill Country and includes igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rock type... read more

  Bird Blind and Feeding Area. We have seen over 160 species of birds in the park. More than 30 species have been seen in this feeding station area, mostly during the winter months. Birds require food, water and cover, all of which are present here. Plea... read more

Stop 12   Butterfly Habitat We designed our butterfly habitat to provide both larval and nectar plants for butterflies. We have more than 60 butterfly species visiting our habitat. Butterfly adults and larvae prefer native plants. Please note the solita... read more

The Self-Guided Tour can be used to explore and learn about the entire area. A detailed description of the Trails can be found under “Nature Center Trails“.  A map of the area is found below:   1. Grotto with Ferns 2.  Live Oak Woods ... read more

Self Guided Tour Stops along the trail are marked with 4X4 posts with the stop number on top of the post. Numbers are noted on the trail map.   Stop 1 Sandstones deposited during the time the dinosaurs roamed this part of the Hill Country over 100 ... read more

  FredericksburgNatureCenter Fish   Common Name Scientific Name Alligator Gar Atractosteus spatula River Carpsucker Carpiodes carpio Blacktail Shiner Cyprinella venusta Bluegill Lepomis macrochirus Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides   &n... read more

FredericksburgNatureCenter Mammals Common Name Scientific Name Ringtail Bassariscus astutus Beaver Castor canadensis Didelphis marsupialis Didelphis marsupialis Nutria Miocastor coypus Odocoileus virginianus Odocoileus virginianus Racoon Procyon lotor Eas... read more

FredericksburgNatureCenter Reptiles & Amphibians Common Name Scientific Name Red-spotted Toad Bufo punctatus Texas Spotted Whiptail Cnemidophorus gularis gularis Texas Rat Snake Elaphe obsoleta lindheimerii Blotched Water Snake Nerodia erythrogaster t... read more

After a colder than normal winter season, I suspect that most of us are happy to see spring appear on the scene, maybe a little early. Some of the birds that were seen moving north in the middle of February were trying to tell us what their internal clock... read more

  While attending the Featherfest birding festival in Galveston last weekend, I made a quick trip via the ferry to Bolivar Peninsular late one evening to photograph shorebirds on a birding refuge known as Bolivar Flats. The tide was going out and the... read more

Black-capped Vireo In the past I have witnessed an overly aggressive male of female hummingbird fighting off the other birds as if the feeder was his or her sole possession. Now I watch what is going on and the tables have turned on the “feeder bullies... read more

  A mixture of grasses and wildflowers, once covered vast areas of Texas, including the Texas Hill Country. Mixed grass prairies were the dominant habitat of the Hill Country prior to European settlement in the mid-nineteenth century. Prairies in thi... read more

Ash juniper is a native plant, but prior to settlement of the Hill Country it was confined to the canyons and steep slopes that protected it from wildfires. As settlers suppressed wildfires, ash juniper spread across the former savannah habitat to dominat... read more

Blackjack and Post oaks are trees that form open forests in higher, dryer sandy areas of the region and state. Upland sandy soil areas are often inhabited by post oak and blackjack trees as you see along this narrow corridor. The open field south of the f... read more

The marshy area below the dam is home for water loving plants, dragonflies, and wading birds.The plants that live in the marshy area below the dam don’t mind wet feet. Sedges and rushes don’t have a problem growing in standing water. Fall aste... read more

Please note the change in vegetation along the face of the slope. The habitat has changed from that across the creek because the soil is mostly clay, drier (above the water table) and well drained. Note the vegetation is dominated by prickly pear, mesquit... read more

A riparian zone or area is the interface between land and a river or stream. Riparian is also the proper nomenclature for one of the fifteen terrestrial biomes of the earth. Plant habitats and communities along the river margins and banks are called ripar... read more

  Lake islands may form in numerous ways. They may occur through a build-up of sedimentation as shoals. These islands provide a wide variety of habitat for wildlife from dragonflies to birds.

  Recently while birding in the South Llano River State Park near Junction, I crossed paths with one of the Hill Country’s smallest and most illusive birds, a Verdin. Seeing movement in the brushy habitat might be the only way to notice the bird’... read more

Just when we were on a path that was similar to, or worse than, the sparse rainfall we received in the Hill Country in early spring in 2011, we got a nice rain over much of the area last week. The memories of 2011 are still very sharp in our minds, when w... read more

  I was asked to help conduct a new butterfly count this week on a beautiful ranch near Kickapoo Caverns State Park in Edwards County about fifty miles south of the town of Rock Springs. Many of us long time birders have added butterflies and dragonf... read more

This past winter two Rufous-crowned Sparrows took up residence near my home, and much to my enjoyment, they are still here. These sparrows were part of my article last week featuring our summer sparrows. I have owned my place near Fredericksburg for more ... read more

I recently received an email from a friend who told me about a Northern Cardinal building a nest in a bird seed feeder, a hanging platform feeder with a roof. Cardinals normally build their nests in shrubs, small trees or vine tangles, so this bird steppe... read more

While I was driving in a residential area in Fredericksburg recently, a dark colored hawk flew in front of my car not far above the top of the tree canopy. Instantly I realized that this was not a bird I had seen before; my first thought was that it was a... read more

  The Friends of the Fredericksburg Nature Center built a stairway along the road as part of phase three of their project to make Cross Mountain Park safer. The road is notorious for washing out and being too steep to climb. — Standard-Radio Post/A... read more

The flight capability of various animals, including birds, mammals, fish and reptiles throughout the history of our planet, is an amazing saga. Insects, led by dragonflies and their relatives, have been perfecting their flying ability for more than three ... read more

Just as most of our birds in the Hill Country are winding down their breeding activities, many of the birds in Southeast Arizona are gearing up to begin the process. The reason for the different schedules it that the Arizona birds have changed their cycle... read more

My recent trip to Arizona to attend the Sedona Hummingbird Festival had two other intended goals – to find and photograph the rare Plain-capped Starthroat hummingbird in Southeast Arizona and the endangered California Condor in Grand Canyon National Par... read more

My time with the dragonflies at the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Roswell, New Mexico was enjoyable, as I worked with attendees to teach them about these incredible flying insects. The normally hot, early September days turned abruptly cooler th... read more

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 ... read more

The 26th annual HummerBird Celebration held in Rockport this past weekend was both successful and fun. It was my ninth year to be involved with the festival – a time to give talks, lead birding trips, do fall migrant birding, associate with many nice pe... read more

After spending just over a week in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, I returned to the Hill Country with some special memories of the trip that I would like to share. Last week I reported a rare butterfly discovery near Mission that caused much excitement amon... read more

Mid to late November is the time to expect the smallest of the Winter Texans, the American Goldfinch, to be arriving in the Hill Country. Some are likely here now, but none have yet appeared at my feeders; I expect to see them very soon. Now that the two ... read more

If you should see some movement on the bark of the tree, it will not be your eyes playing tricks, but a small bird hunting for an insect or spider hiding in the bark. The Brown Creeper is a fairly common bird within is range in the lower forty-eight state... read more

With Christmas and the Holiday Season just around the corner, avid birders begin to think about participating in the annual North American bird census surveys. Known as the Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs), the approaching count will be the 115th version to b... read more

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 ... read more

Unless you have ever gone birding in the desert southwest, you have not likely seen, or even heard of, a shiny black bird with a crest, called a Phainopepla. Phainopeplas belong to a small family of Neotropical birds called Silky Flycatchers, of which onl... read more

With the year 2011 still etched in our memories with drought, fire and low wildlife food production, we can safely say that the past year, 2014, was a good year for birds, humans and wildlife in general. Birders are an optimistic group of people who gener... read more

This winter I have had the pleasure to get to know a flock of about fifty Wild Turkeys who started hanging around my back yard feeders looking for a morsel, or scrap, of food. I have a soft spot for turkeys as I grew up on a farm in South Texas that raise... read more

If a poll were taken of the most significant bird pest in the world, the winner would be the English Sparrow, or the House Sparrow. The House Sparrow is not even a member of the sparrow family, but a member of the weaver finch family, a native of Asia and... read more

As my flock of fifty Wild Turkeys hangs around my yard area, I am having more opportunities to observe the behavioral relationships in the flock. When the flock first started appearing under my bird feeders, the gender make up was predominately hens and j... read more

It is almost Valentine’s Day and I realized that in all the years of writing this column, I have never considered exploring the topic of birds and love. In using the word “love” I am referring to it in the context of “affection” the emotional fe... read more

From Tierra Fuego to Panama and all across South America alarm bells are going off in the heads of billions of birds signaling that time is fast approaching to store body fat for the long trek northward to their breeding grounds. I suspect that many Swain... read more

A week ago today, I noticed a Turkey Vulture soaring over the Hill Country and realized that I had failed to mention these birds in my article about the start of spring migration. Many of you likely were unaware that they had left our region, so what is s... read more

After a dreary, cloudy, and cold January to mid-March, the weather gods released their grip on our weather and spring has quickly burst out all over the Hill Country. I sure hope none of my friends from the New England area read my “woe is me” beginni... read more

Last week I suggested that spring had sprung both from birds and native plant perspectives and in just a week it now appears that most of the actors are in participation. Even the normally late-joining members of the pecan tree family are bursting out in ... read more

Every sport seems to promote a time where their sport has special events – Super Bowl in football, Final Four in basketball, the Indy 500 in racing, etc. Birding is generally considered a sporting event, so why not have a special day or week to promote ... read more

If you are interested in doing a week long birding trip along the middle to upper Texas Gulf Coast, the following itinerary might be of interest to you. I have done these trips over many years and can assure you that you will see many great species. If yo... read more

Last week I suggested a planned trip along the Texas Gulf Coast to take advantage of the annual spring migration of birds returning to their summer breeding grounds all across the northern regions of North America from their wintering areas in Central and... read more

What happens when a person’s curiosity focuses on nature? An analogy might be what happens when a person gets stuck in quicksand, but with fewer dire consequences. The natural world, nature as we know it, is a very complicated interrelated system where ... read more

Ten to fifteen years ago, if you wanted to see a Hutton’s Vireo, a trip to the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park would have been the likely nearest venue. For whatever reason, this small vireo is becoming a fairly common bird in the Hill Countr... read more

A friend sent me a photo of a bird this week that appeared in his back yard.The bird’s many different colors made identification puzzling. He was familiar with our smaller male Painted Buntings which have a gaudy array of red, blue and green colors, but... read more

For avid birders the time period of March through May is the fastest time span of the year as it is when the North American breeding birds are returning to their favorite habitats to raise their families. Most of the birds that pass through the Hill Count... read more

Texas has more confirmed bird sightings than any other state in our union; the total number is in the neighborhood of 635 species. The principal reason for the abundance of birdlife is the state’s location in the central region of the country where the ... read more

We are fast approaching the so called “Dog Days of Summer,” a time when our brightest star in our galaxy, Sirius,” dominates the evening sky. It also correlates to a period of time that our days are long and hot. Like most of us, birds are not all t... read more

While sitting at my computer one evening in the twilight hours about a month ago, I heard an all too familiar “thump” sound in the direction of our front two picture windows. Since dusk was fast setting in for the evening, I was surprised because rare... read more

I staked my claim to a small piece of the Hill Country in 1992 when I purchased a property just a few miles west of Fredericksburg. I retired here in1994, and one of the first priorities was to record the names of birds with whom I would be sharing my pla... read more

As we have reached the first of August, I want to share with you what is happening with our Hill Country birds and the visitors expected for other regions. At this date our breeding birds have either finished their annual breeding cycle or likely are rais... read more

As the fall season approaches, birds, mammals and plants have to undergo changes to prepare for the conditions of the new season, winter. We will soon see our deciduous trees sheading their foliage as they transition to a period of dormancy, or rest, and ... read more

This past weekend I traveled to Junction to see what might be hanging around the water features in the bird blind areas in South Llano River State Park. With temperatures in triple digits and not a cloud to be seen, birds are not drifting too far from a s... read more

All spring and summer we have patiently filled our hummingbird feeders to take care of thousands and thousands of tiny, energized birds that chose to live in the Hill Country, and in particular, our back yards. Likely, ninety-nine per cent of these hummer... read more

Early fall is the time of the year when most birders awake from a couple of months of low-excitement time following the summer breeding season and begin to think of what the fall migration season will bring. Mornings begin to be cooler and if you get up e... read more

I had the pleasure last weekend to be a part of the 27th annual Hummer/Bird Celebration in the Rockport and Fulton Beach area of the middle Texas Gulf Coast Region. The focus of the celebration/nature festival is the gathering of large numbers of Ruby-thr... read more

During the past month I have twice written articles about our well known Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and their remarkable energetic lifestyles with particular interest directed to their endurance in making long flights. Last week I discussed the possible s... read more

Once in a while a birder crosses paths with a rare or unusual bird in an unexpected area. About two weeks ago someone observed a Rufous-capped Warbler on a trail in Lost Maples State Natural area that got the attention of many birders in Texas, and maybe ... read more