Author Archives: Dr. Maureen Frank

Hurricanes, floods, and wildlife

As Texans continue to recover from the impacts of Hurricane Harvey, and with hurricane season far from over, many people have questions about how these events affect wildlife. Quail are particularly prone to the effects of rainfall. Find out more in this short video by Texas Wildlife Association: Quail vs. Hurricane

Wildlife and flooding

When a natural disaster strikes, wildlife have limited ways to respond. Floods commonly displace many species from their usual homes and allow other species to access new areas. As the water recedes, people may be surprised to find wildlife in unusual places. Most wildlife displaced by flooding is simply trying to find food and shelter. However, if people are unaware of their surroundings, negative encounters with displaced wildlife can result. One particular concern during post-disaster cleanup is snakes. Debris piles created during a storm attract snakes for several… Read More →

Notes about Nighthawks

What’s in a name? Although most wildlife names are pretty straightforward (white-tailed deer have white tails, northern bobwhites say their name), others can be misleading. This post is about nighthawks, which are fascinating birds that are not at all related to hawks! Unlike hawks, which are classified together with other large, diurnal birds of prey, nighthawks are part of a group of birds that eat insects and are most active at night. Other birds in the same family as nighthawks have equally fascinating names, including nightjar, chuck-will’s-widow, whip-poor-will,… Read More →

Notes about Rattlesnakes

Show of hands — who likes rattlesnakes? Many people who spend time on rangelands strongly dislike this particular type of wildlife. Just like all wildlife, though, rattlesnakes have their place in the ecosystem. Next question: who likes rats? Who likes disease? Controlling pest populations is an important ecosystem service provided by rattlesnakes. Small mammals are the #1 prey of rattlesnakes, so rattlesnakes keep rodent populations in check which in turn can reduce the spread of zoonotic diseases carried by rodents. Unlike other venomous snakes, rattlesnakes will often alert… Read More →

Are you ready…

… for hunting season?! Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has released dates for the 2017-2018 hunting season. Check out the details here, and learn more about the animals you are hunting through the resources in our Game Management section.

Turkey roosts

In honor of Independence Day, today’s post is about turkeys, which were almost chosen as the national bird of the United States. Rio Grande wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo intermedia) are the most common turkey species in Texas. A critical habitat component for turkeys is a place to roost. While all birds roost, not all do so communally. Turkeys roost communally, meaning that every night, a group of turkeys gather together to rest in a particular area. Other than nesting hens, which roost on the ground, Rio Grande wild turkeys roost… Read More →

Deer and Quail and Turkey… oh my!

Setting goals for wildlife management helps you focus your efforts on tasks that will benefit the species you want on your land. But what if you are interested in having multiple species on your land? Wildlife occur naturally in communities, which are groups of species that use similar habitat. When you manage for any native species, you are also benefiting other species with similar habitat requirements. For example, “crazy quilt” habitat for quail benefits many species of songbirds that need a mixture of open grassy areas and brush…. Read More →

Got wildlife? Get facts!

If you have wildlife on your land (all Texans, raise your hands!), you need to know good management practices for dealing with that wildlife, whether you want to increase quail numbers, improve antler production, or reduce wild pigs. The problem is that mixed in with all the good information out there about wildlife management is plenty of bad information. All management techniques take resources — time, money, and effort — and all land managers have limited resources. Bad information, which leads to poor management, does more than potentially… Read More →

Beep beep! Notes about roadrunners

Hopefully, you already know that the call of greater roadrunners (Geococcyx californianus) isn’t actually “beep beep.” But do you know what roadrunners actually eat? How about where they live? Like many wildlife species, roadrunners are the subject of several “myths.” One of the goals of NatNotes is to provide accurate information about Texas rangelands and wildlife in a brief, easy-to-read manner. So today, let’s do a fact check on roadrunners! Roadrunners have been blamed by some as a factor in the decline of northern bobwhite quail. While it… Read More →

White-nose fungus detected in Texas

Sometimes, “firsts” are exciting, like when an infant takes his first steps or a young angler catches her first fish. But when it comes to wildlife diseases, the first detection of a disease in a state is not exciting news. At the end of March, biologists reported the first detection in Texas of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats. Hibernating bats that tested positive for the fungus came from six North Texas counties: Childress, Collingsworth, Cottle, Hardeman, King, and Scurry. White-nose fungus thrives in cold climates and… Read More →