Wildlife Research: Banding Mourning Doves

September 1st, 2014

Mourning dove in Texas

Mourning dove in Texas



This is Passport to Texas

Mourning doves are the focus of an ongoing, nationwide banding study.

17—We’re banding mourning doves to determine harvest rates or percent of fall population taken by hunters. We’ll also determine survival rates, and where they go, and when they get there and when they leave.

Jay Roberson, wildlife research supervisor, said returned bands also help estimate population size – which ties directly into the national harvest strategy. He invited me to observe as he banded doves.

07—And we’re going to go and take some birds out of the traps and see what we’ve got and put the right band on the correct leg.

The trapped bird flapped excitedly as we approached. Jay covered the cage with an old blanket to calm the animal. Taking it from its cage, he brought it to a picnic table for banding with a small silver ring that fit easily around the bird’s leg.

14—Those are the bands for the adults and the unknown age birds. Now I slip the open band in the pliers over the lower leg. And now I’m going to crimp that pliers down until it closes.

After Jay determined the animal’s age, he transcribed the number of the band, the date and location into a book, and then released the bird.

If you harvest a banded mourning dove, report it by calling the number on the band. The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program program supports our show and provides funding for the Private Lands and Public Hunting Program.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Wildlife: Prevention of White Nose Syndrome

August 29th, 2014
Bat with White Nose Syndrome

Bat with White Nose Syndrome, Image © Sweetbriar College. www.sbc.edu


This is Passport to Texas

If caving is one of your pastimes, here’s something you should know: a fungal disease called white nose syndrome has been is killing North American bats since 2006.

07—There are certain caves where bats hibernate where 90 to 100 percent of the bats that hibernate in that cave have died from the disease.

The fungus is also found in European caves though the bats there are essentially immune. This suggests the fungus may have evolved with their bats. Texas Parks and Wildlife mammalogist, Jonah Evans says researchers speculate people who visited European caves may have unwittingly brought fungal spores into North American caves on shoes or other gear. To prevent the spread of white nose fungal spores by humans…

10— Avoid entry into caves if at all possible, otherwise do a very stringent decontamination and be really careful about getting leaned
up when you leave a cave.

Find decontamination protocol at passporttotexas.org.

So why care? Bats are beneficial agricultural allies, eating tons of insects during their nightly flights, allowing farmers to reduce or eliminate insecticide use on food crops, and save money. They also serve as pollinators of important crops and are just fascinating animals.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series… and receives funds from your purchase of fishing and hunting equipment and motor boat fuel.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Wildlife: White Nose Syndrome on the Move

August 28th, 2014

Bats in a cave.

Bats in a cave. Photo © Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International, www.batcon.org



This is Passport to Texas

First discovered in 2006 / 2007 in upstate New York, white nose syndrome—a fungus that afflicts cave-hibernating bats—has killed an estimated 6 million animals thus far.

09—Texas is home to 32 species of bats; 18 of which are known to roost in some way, and many of those hibernate.

Texas Parks and Wildlife mammalogist, Jonah Evans says Texas bats are currently disease free, but not home free. Take migratory Mexican freetail bats, for example.

32— There is concern that they could act as a vector for the disease. So, if they get exposed to it – maybe they’re carrying it – and then they migrate down into Central and South America, and they expose a lot of other migratory bats that could then bring the disease into the western portion of the United States. So, it’s a lot of speculation, but there’s some concern that Texas could be a gateway from the eastern part of the US to the western if it gets into the migratory bats and then they expose a lot of the hibernating bats in the west.

Something that’s not speculation is how humans spread the disease from cave to cave, and how they can protect against it. That’s tomorrow.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series… and receives funds from your purchase of fishing and hunting equipment and motor boat fuel.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Wildlife: White Nose Syndrome Update

August 27th, 2014

Checking caves for White Nose Syndrome

Checking caves for White Nose Syndrome, Photo © Mylea Bayless, Bat Conservation International, www.batcon.org



This is Passport to Texas

North America’s bats are dying off at an alarming rate.

06—The current estimate is more than 5.7 million bats have been killed by white nose syndrome.
Texas Parks and Wildlife mammalogist, Jonah Evans, says it’s been spreading south and west.

12— The closest [to Texas] it’s been confirmed is in Mississippi. And it does continue to be found further and further west – closer to Texas. So, we’re very concerned that it could get here.

Researchers thought they’d discovered the fungus in an Oklahoma bat colony in 2010; additional testing proved the sample similar, yet unrelated and non-lethal.

05—That is a huge relief, because that was next door, and we were just terrified that it was coming.

White Nose Syndrome, which forms a fungal mat over the faces of hibernating bats, thrives in cooler climates. This makes Texas officials hopeful state bat colonies will remain unaffected; nevertheless, they will remain vigilant.

11—The place that we’ve identified as most likely to be susceptible to white nose syndrome is up in the Panhandle, where there’s a fair
number of hibernating bats, and it gets cold.

How the white nose fungus moves from one area to another, and what we can do to slow its progress. That’s tomorrow.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series… and receives funds from your purchase of fishing and hunting equipment and motor boat fuel.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

TPW Magazine: 12 Birds Every Texan Should Know

August 26th, 2014

House Sparrow male sitting on snow-covered hedge, Texas

House Sparrow male sitting on snow-covered hedge, Texas



This is Passport to Texas

Texas Parks and Wildlife non-game ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford, compiled a list of 12 bird species he thinks every Texan should know.

10— No two experts or seasoned veterans in this field are going to come up with the same 12 birds. I’m sure people are going to go: Why
didn’t he pick this? Why didn’t he pick that?” Well, it’s just personal preference.

In addition to personal preference, birds made the list based on questions he receives from the public about unfamiliar species they see.

22—Yeah. And then, the other thing I did is I thought about species that have statewide ranges that you could be in just about any corner of the state and see. Of course, some of these are wetland occurring, and if you’re out in the very dry parts of West Texas, you might not see them; but eventually you’re going to cross a creek or pond or something and potentially see a Killdeer or a Great Blue Heron.

Killdeer and Great Blue Heron are on the list of 12, which is in the August / September issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine. The Northern Mockingbird, Red-tailed Hawk, Barn Swallow, Turkey Vulture, Cattle Egret and others also made the list — including the house sparrow, which is a non-native species.

10—And it’s not even a true sparrow –it’s a weaver finch—and it’s in a totally different part of your bird book; that’s why I put that one in there. It’s just so atypical for a sparrow.

Find the article Twelve Birds Every Texan Should Know by Cliff Shackelford in the August/September issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.