Category Archives: NatNotes

Black Bears of Texas

If you ask most people whether black bears (Ursus americanus) reside in Texas, their answer will probably be no. However, the correct answer is, surprisingly, yes! Within Texas, black bears can be found in the southern part of the Trans-Pecos, the western Hill Country, the northern Panhandle, and far northeast Texas. Due to the small number of black bears within Texas, black bears are protected here, meaning it is illegal to hunt, trap, kill, or otherwise take them. If there is a problem black bear, you should contact… Read More →

How much water?

Edited by Dr. Bob Dittmar, Wildlife Veterinarian, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department The water needs of different wildlife species vary widely. Even within a species, an animal’s water needs may differ depending on climate, body size of the animal, reproductive status, and other factors. This is why the daily water intake of a particular species is usually given as a range of values. Below are some of the factors that can influence the specific water needs of a given animal. Physiology Different animals are adapted to different climates… Read More →

Quail on ice

Earlier this week, a post on the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch Facebook page featured a covey of bobwhites huddled up against the cold weather. This leads us to an excellent NatNotes topic: what do wildlife do when it’s cold? Across the rangelands of Texas, some critters are more familiar with cold than others. Most of the bobwhites in south Texas probably haven’t seen this much cold weather in a couple generations, while quail on the High Plains of the Panhandle experience freezing temperatures more regularly. So for… Read More →

All About Water

We’ve experienced some highs and lows and crazy weather in Texas the past few months. But, unfortunately for our rangelands, what we’ve been missing is rain! On Texas rangelands, drought is not an “if” but a “when” and “how long will it last.” So, while we always hope for rain in the forecast, it’s good to prepare for the driest scenario. This year, water will be a regular feature of TexNat posts. We’ll discuss how wildlife use water, how rain affects plant health and diversity, and how all… Read More →

Hunting as population management

Many hunters dream of harvesting a trophy buck. While people hunt for a variety of reasons, including food, tradition, spending time with family, connecting with nature, and seeking that trophy buck, the role of hunting in deer population management is sometimes overlooked. In particular, some hunters do not realize the importance of harvesting does to maintain balanced sex ratios. “Sex ratio” refers to a comparison of the number of males in a population to the number of females. As with most mammals, the sex ratio of white-tailed deer… 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 →

Turkey roosts

In honor of Independence Day, today’s post is about turkeys, which were almostĀ chosen asĀ 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 →

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 →