Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Texas Tidbits: The Birds! UPDATED w/ Video!

Mockingbird - State Bird of Texas

I wanted to do something a little different today on Texas Tidbits, something I'd like to do more of, and that is to put out there for all to see and discover the abundant wildlife found in Texas. From hunting and fishing to birding and observing wild animals in their natural habitat. Texas is one of the premier destinations in the world for all those activities, with its nearly 270,000 square miles of God's handiwork acting as home to thousands of species of all things wild.

I want to focus today on birding. Texas is one of the must-be places for birders from around the globe eager to spot one of over 500 species of our fine feathered friends waiting to be seen and photographed. As I type out these posts for you each day, I love to look out the back windows of the living room and watch for the next species of bird to land on the bird feeder I have hanging outside. This time of year in Maine, we are limited to chickadees (the State Bird), blue jays, dove and sparrows, but the spring and summer bring dozens of bird types to us. Back when I lived on the outskirts of Tyler, I had several bird feeders set up plus I had a very wide driveway, where each morning I would toss out handfuls of bird seed and watch the parade of feathers come and go. There were literally hundreds of birds that visited me daily, not including the birds migrating through. One morning, I counted 88 dove and 67 cardinals on my feeders and in my driveway - all at the same time! It was amazing! A veritable carpet of gray and red. My knowledge of bird identification is severely limited, so I kept a notebook and jotted down descriptions of any new birds that stopped by. I think I stopped at around 40. Not too bad, considering all that bird activity took place in my driveway and front yard.

Now as far as finding a great place to do some birding in your area of Texas, look no further than the Texas Parks and Wildlife website. The page is loaded with links to all kinds of information about where and when to get some optimal bird watching in. The World Birding Center is a network of nine locations in South Texas where you can experience an outstanding trip into the world of laying your peepers on the peepers.

The Great Texas Birding Classic is an annual event that brings together birders from all over the world to compete in a week long team birding event all along the Gulf Coast during the unbelieveable spring migration in that area, in which the teams identify as many species of birds as possible during the event. The Gulf Coast Bird Observatory is another outstanding resource to assist you in your birding endeavors. If you prefer a more local/hometown approach to birding, my main man Bob at Texas Tweeties has a list of over 200 indentified bird species and photographs of many of those birds in the archives of his blog.

I know that I have left you with many options in your pursuit of the legendary and elusive yellow belly sap sucker (thanks, Miss Jane!), so take your time and soak up all the information that you want. The birds will be there. And they'll be waiting for you.

UPDATE w/ Video: I found a cool birding video on the Texas Monthly website that many of our bird watching readers will enjoy.

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All Original Material © Toby Shoemaker