Seasons – September 2022
From the Plateau Land & Wildlife Management Team
We experienced many hot and dry months this summer, and as much as we are looking forward to a reprieve, our land and wildlife are too. As the summer comes to a close, it is more important than ever to think about the water and food sources available on your land, and how to protect and conserve the resources that critters rely on to survive.
In this issue of Seasons we offer fun and timely outdoor activities this fall, including fall birds you can look for in your very backyard, wildlife management activity suggestions for supplemental food, webinars for landowners, upcoming events, news and articles for Texas landowners, and more.
As always, we hope you enjoy all that this month has to offer!
Until next Seasons,
The Plateau Team
Table of Contents
5 TIPS TO ATTRACT BACKYARD BIRDS
By Danielle Belleny, Plateau Staff Biologist II
Attracting birds to your yard can be a fun and exciting activity for all ages to participate in. With fall and winter bird migrations just around the corner, providing a few essential items for birds can turn your yard into a choice rest stop. You and your family will have many opportunities to watch and listen to the feathered visitors while they feed, drink, and rest their wings before heading further south.
Here are 5 tips to attract some common fall & winter visitors:
- Provide feeders – Providing a regular source of food is the first step to attracting birds to your yard. Bird feeders come in a variety of shapes and features. Selecting the right one for your home is a matter of personal choice. You can evenmake your own bird feeders using recycled materials from home. Go a step further and experiment with seed mixes to see if food type changes the species that visit. Feeders can bring unexpected species together!
- Provide water – On both hot and cold days, water is needed for birds to survive. Due to the lack of rain in the winter, water sources can be difficult to come by. Provide birds fresh water in a shallow dish. Include a log or large stone in the dish so that bathing birds can climb out of the water dish easily. On days where the temperature is near freezing, it is important to make sure the water doesn’t freeze.
- Provide shelter – After making such long migratory flights, exhausted birds are in search of a safe place to land. Provide sources of shelter like bushes, patches of un-mowed grass, piles of brush, or trees to protect birds from harsh weather and predators. These sources of shelter can also provide seeds, berries, and insects for the birds to eat.
- Regularly clean feeders and water – Outdoor bird feeders with dry seed should be cleaned weekly with 9 parts water to 1 part bleach. Feeders should be cleaned more often if there is any moisture from rain, ice, or snow. To keep your water dishes and birdbaths fresh, just rinse and scrub it with nine parts water, one part vinegar. Skip the synthetic soaps and cleansers; they can strip the essential oils off of bird feathers. Concentrated areas that have frequent visitors could potentially accumulate harmful bacteria or viruses that negatively impact wildlife. Cleaning feeders regularly helps prevent the spread of disease. Wash your hands after handling bird supplies.
- Keep track of visitors – Stay vigilant and set aside a regular time that you and your family can observe the birds that stop by. Keep a log of the species observed at your feeder and the dates you encountered them. If you have trouble identifying a bird, try taking a photo and emailing it to our biologists to assist. Additionally, mobile apps like Merlin Bird ID are able to identify birds from the photos in your camera roll. Merlin Bird ID can also identify birds singing around you and show real-time suggestions for who’s singing. Other apps like Audubon Bird Guide App have large libraries of bird sounds and images to further help you identify birds.
Here are 4 species Texans all over can expect to see in their yards this fall and winter:
Northern Cardinal – Among the most abundant species on the continent, the Northern Cardinal is a brightly colored bird sure to grab anyone’s attention. Adult male cardinals have the characteristic ruby–red feathers and black-masked faces. The feather color of cardinals, and most other birds with reds, oranges, and yellow feathers, derives from the keratin pigments in their food sources. Male cardinals that eat high–quality red-colored berries become even more vibrant. Female cardinals and juvenile cardinals have an overall greyish-tan color with flashes of red on the margins of their wings and tails. Both sexes have the prominent crest atop their heads.
Carolin wren – The Carolina Wrens are shy, year-round residents that frequent homes and gardens during the day. They energetically hop through bushes, climb along tree trunks, and flip over fallen leaves in search of insects and spiders, the bulk of the wren’s diet. Wrens have a loud and varied repertoire, making them more likely to be heard before they are sighted. The entire song usually lasts less than 2 seconds and the notes are usually described as three-parted, as a repeated teakettle or “Ger-man-y”. Males and females have nearly identical plumage and usually mate for life.
Cedar Waxwing – The Cedar Waxwing is named for the red, wax-like droplets on the tips of adult bird flight feathers. Additionally, adults have sharp black face masks edged with white, black chin-patches, and pale-yellow belly feathers. Cedar Waxwings love sugary fruits, like Ashe Juniper berries, which dominate the diet of this bird. In fall and winter, these birds gather by the hundreds to eat berries, filling the air with their high, thin, whistles. Cedar Waxwings can eat naturally fermented berries still attached to Ashe Juniper. In fact, they sometimes overindulge on fermented berries, causing unusual and laughable bird behavior.
Pine Siskins – In the winter, they are visitors at feeders across Texas, however, Pine Siskins are an irruptive species, meaning their numbers in a given locality are unpredictable from one year to the next due to the annual variation in the distribution and abundance of seeds that make up the bulk of their diet. Pine Siskins flock to thistle and other small seeds such as millet or hulled sunflower seeds. Be on the lookout for exceptionally streaky, small-billed bird at your feeder. Also, listen for their distinctive call which sounds like slowly tearing a sheet of paper in two.
If you have questions, or need assistance identifying a particular bird species, feel free to contact us at (512) 894-3479 or [email protected].Back to TopBack to Top
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT ACTIVITY REMINDER: SUPPLEMENTAL FOOD
By Kameron Bain, Landowner Account Manager
As landscapes become more fragmented, so can wildlife food resources. There’s no better food source than quality habitat, but supplements can serve a role in your management. Providing feeders for wild turkey and other wild birds can attract, retain, and possibly improve their populations on your property. Supplementing wildlife with high-quality food sources can improve nutrition during stressful/dry times of the year or pivotal times in their life cycle. Common motivations for this are feeding protein supplements to deer during antler growth or providing food to birds during migration and breeding. Concentrated supplemental food sources like feeders or food plots are also great ways to attract wildlife for observation and population surveys.
How does supplemental food fit into my Wildlife Management Plan?
Texas wildlife tax valuation law allows landowners to qualify in the supplemental food category by providing high-quality, free-choice food resources to targeted wildlife species. The recommended rate of one feeder per 320 acres qualifies for credit within the supplemental food category, though a higher density of strategically placed feeders will offer added benefits for some species. Feeders often improve opportunities for wildlife observations enjoyed by landowners and can be utilized with survey techniques to assist in census efforts, another qualifying Wildlife Management activity.
What is an appropriate food source?
The food source should fit your target species. Protein or mineral supplements for deer, mixed grains for Wild Turkey, seed mixes for songbirds, and nectar for hummingbirds are all appropriate. Food plots should provide both warm-season (late spring-early fall) plants and cool-season (late fall-early spring) plants for your target species. For deer, that often means legumes in the summer and oats or other cereal grains in the winter, though there are a lot of options available for deer food plots. When manipulating natural vegetation, the goal is to stimulate plants that are already in the soil (usually under-appreciated forbs/wildflowers, aka weeds).
What does NOT qualify as a supplemental food source under Wildlife Management?
- Placing a feeder or providing supplements outside the area designated for Wildlife Management valuation on your property – for example, if you were to place a feeder inside the boundary of your residential area, this would not count as a Wildlife Management activity.
- Using a spin-cast feeder. Timed feeders are great for wildlife watching and hunting but don’t serve wildlife as well since you are controlling how much they can eat.
- Using only corn as a food source. Again – corn is great for hunting and wildlife watching, but it is a bait, not a qualifying food supplement.
Whether you are in Wildlife Management and providing supplemental food as a qualifying activity, or are just looking to improve the wildlife on your property, providing food during hot and dry periods is an important aspect of good land management. Plateau has a range of feeders, from quail and small wildlife stations to platform feeders. Contact us if you’re interested in learning more about your qualifying Wildlife Management activities or to learn more about our feeder options – (512) 894-3479 or [email protected].
Plateau Land & Wildlife: Fall Management Series
You’re invited to our FREE Wildlife Management webinar series this fall!
Whether you’re already a Plateau customer or someone that wants to learn more about Wildlife Management, everyone is invited to join us for our FREE 2022 Wildlife Management Fall Webinar Series. Connect with experts and other Texas landowners in Wildlife Management and learn all about: Wildlife Management Exemption, Wildlife Management 101, Qualifying Wildlife Activities, Property Taxes, Wildlife Management Plans, Annual Reports, County Requirements, Texas Regional Topics, Open Questions & Answers and more!
Plus, join us for special Early Bird presentations from industry experts like Capital Farm Credit, Bee Salty, and Braun & Gresham, PLLC!
Webinars will be hosted on Tuesdays starting September 20th through November 8th. Visit www.plateauwildlife.com/webinars to register for the date and topic you choose. Register for as many as you’d like. If you miss one, no problem, just sign up for the next webinar!
Questions? Give us a call at (512) 894-3479 or email [email protected]
iNaturalist Review: What is it, and how do I use it?
By Mark Gray, Plateau Senior Wildlife Biologist & Registered Property Tax Consultant
One of the most rewarding components of working at Plateau is that I am continuously increasing my knowledge of the natural world around me. Whether I’m doing a nature walk with a leading botanist or watching a webinar on invasive plants during my lunch, I learn something daily. Shortly after Plateau’s busy season in April, I was introduced to an extremely exciting tool, the iNaturalist app. Nick Fisher, Plateau Region Manager, brought in a turtle and asked if I knew what it was. Unfortunately, or fortunately, in this case, I didn’t. Someone else suggested we could use the iNaturalist app to help with the identification. Within seconds, and in my mind with wizardry, the app had provided the correct identification of the turtle. Talk about snowballing, I downloaded it and went on a mission to trick it. Observation after observation the iNaturalist app correctly identified grasses, wildflowers, birds, and even mushrooms. It is not perfect, but this is one of the greatest tools I have used.
The iNaturalist app, and even deeper with the web interface, has numerous features that not only benefit the individual using it, but also the community (Roughly 1.2 million users). First of all, it aids in the identification of your observation with either an accurate match or provides an avenue for others to help in the identification by offering suggestions to the correct identity. iNaturalist is a citizen science project that allows naturalists and nature enthusiasts a means of sharing and exploring data. Every bit of information can potentially be used, providing a much-improved data bank. Next, it allows you to track your observations. Finally, and most importantly, it is an exceptional educational tool. I now spend several hours a week checking lights at night for moths and have a growing knowledge of moth identification. I have always believed educating yourself about the natural world around you aids in the desire to protect and preserve it. Below is a short tutorial on how to use the app. Please let me know if you have any questions. My recommendation starts with trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and bugs. Be ready to be amazed and addicted.
*This article originally ran in a 2021 edition of Seasons.
Catch Us On the Road!
- September 12 – Owning Your Piece of Texas Landowner Workshop
- September 16 – Bay Area Builders Association Fishing Tournament
- September 28, 2022 – CTCAR Members Event – Texas-Style Conservation: Wildlife & Property Taxes
- September 29, 2022 – Hill Country Alliance Leadership Summit
Dripping Springs, Texas
- October 6, 2022 – Wildlife Management Tax Valuation Landowner Workshop
San Antonio, Texas
- October 6, 2022 – Houston Safari Club Foundation Sporting Clays Tournament
- October 8, 2022 – 7th Annual Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival
San Antonio, Texas
- October 30, 2022 – TRCA Annual Conference
San Antonio, Texas
Stay tuned to learn about additional upcoming events!
News for Texas Landowners
Article BY MARÍA MÉNDEZ for Texas Tribune
Texas has been in a drought since September 2021, Nielsen-Gammon said, and that’s due to several factors, including climate patterns in the tropical Pacific Ocean…
AUSTIN – Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been discovered in a deer breeding facility in Gillespie County. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) are collaboratively working to determine the source and extent of the first positive detection of the disease in this county. After the mortality of a white-tailed deer on the premises was identified, tissue samples from the one-year-old buck were submitted by the deer breeding facility as part of a required CWD surveillance program. The National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa confirmed CWD in those tissue samples on August 30…
News Release for Texas Parks and Wildlife
AUSTIN – Texans are used to scorching summers, but this year’s record highs across much of the state have left many dove hunters wondering about the upcoming season opener. “Unless conditions change drastically over the next few weeks, hunting near water will be key for opening day this year,” said Owen Fitzsimmons, TPWD Dove Program Leader. “Hunters will likely see larger concentrations of birds at watering holes and food sources than they have in the past due to limited resources. Agriculture production has been hit hard by drought so birds may be more reliant on native foods this September. Look for stands of common sunflower, croton, and other native annual forbs and grasses.” Doves are well-adapted to dry conditions, particularly white-winged doves, which are a sub-tropical species.
“Our spring surveys indicated a decrease in breeding abundance, which is a carry-over from poor hatch-year production last year,” added Fitzsimmons. “However, doves kick reproduction into high gear in dry years like this, and we’re seeing a lot of young birds this summer, based on our banding efforts.”
Article by KSAT
GLEN ROSE, Texas – There’s no question that dinosaurs roamed the land in Texas millions of years ago. Last week, dinosaur tracks were discovered in Texas at a state park after a year of excessive drought, KSAT reported.
“Most tracks that have recently been uncovered and discovered at different parts of the river in the park belong to Acrocanthosaurus,” a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department spokesperson told KSAT. “This was a dinosaur that would stand, as an adult, about 15 feet tall and weighed close to seven tons. Sauroposeidon, the other species that left tracks behind, would be about 60 feet tall and weigh about 44 tons as an adult.”
After a decade of hype, Dallas-Houston bullet train developer faces a leadership exodus as land acquisition slows
Article BY WILLIAM MELHADO for TEXAS TRIBUNE
Of the nearly 50 Texas horned lizards at the San Antonio Zoo lizard factory, a reasonable number of them have names. There’s Poseidon and Pancake, Kermit and Data, Xena and Cowboy. Some of them have been at the factory since 2017, while others have just arrived. There’s a group of baby lizards, tiny and curious and raised in the lab, having just hatched in June, and there are lizards from the wild, which now bathe in fluorescent sunlight and wait for their load of crickets.
April 8 is significant to Travis Huey for two reasons. It’s the date when, in 2024, the narrow path of a total solar eclipse will pass over Brackettville, the small southwest Texas town where he lives. Huey owns the local newspaper, the Kinney County Post, and he’s the president of the association that runs Fort Clark Springs, a private resort and historic site in Brackettville that has struggled to attract visitors in recent years. Huey has big plans for the fort that include drawing 5,000 visitors to the four-minute, eighteen-second eclipse.
But April 8, 2022, complicated his plans. That’s the day when Las Moras Springs, which typically pumps out 12 to 14 million gallons of cool, clear water a day—enough to fill two dozen Olympic size swimming pools—stopped flowing into the fort’s swimming pool, the third-largest spring-fed pool in the state and Fort Clark’s main attraction. With the pool empty and the springs quiet, the trickle of tourists that sustains the struggling fort all but dried up too. Planning for April 8, 2024, ground to a halt…
Article by By Bob Hallmark for KTRE
TYLER, Texas (KLTV) – As fall approaches in East Texas, it’s also the start of many hunting seasons.
Texas Parks and Wildlife wants to make sure all hunters are aware of any changes in rules and regulations for each season. September brings the first of the East Texas hunting traditions, as dove season begins.
“We have dove that starts early, there’s some small game like squirrel seasons that are available. Obviously deer is the big one with archery season starting in October. Feral hog hunting, that kind of takes place off and on,” says Roger Wolfe, district 5 leader for Texas Parks & Wildlife…
Article by KXAN
TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — After nearly an entire summer without rain, storm clouds finally rolled through Texas this week. The rain brought with it cool temperatures that had been absent for months. While many looked to the skies for relief, residents in Whisper Valley looked underground.
“It’s under literally underneath the feet … the earth that you’re standing on,” said Greg Wolfson. He was referencing how the homes were cooled this summer: geothermal technology. “Whether you have snow on the ground or whether it’s 105 degrees outside, it’s always 72 degrees or 74 degrees under the earth.” Wolfson is the chief technology officer with EcoSmart Solution. The company provides green building options to developers, including solar panels and geothermal tech.
TSSWCB is working in partnership with the Central Texas, Little River-San Gabriel, and Taylor SWCDs, USDA-NRCS, APHIS, TWDMA, TFB, and Texas A&M NRI to administer the Feral Swine Control Pilot Program (FSCPP) in Milam and Williamson counties. The FSCPP consists of a “smart trap” loan program, educational and outreach activities, and direct control activities by APHIS.
Landowners in participating counties may be eligible to utilize a feral swine smart trap on their property through the SWCD trap loan program or receive direct control through APHIS…