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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Nearby "I've never thought of that" places to see birds

 1.     Landfills are almost always full of all kinds of gulls (notice I didn’t say “seagull” because there is no such bird).

2.     Sewage treatment plants and settling ponds have lots of good food for birds, and you’ll get used to the smell in about ten minutes.
3.     Urban lakes, ponds and man-made reservoirs are excellent places for shorebirds and waterbirds. Remember, every lake in Texas (except Caddo) is man-made.
4.     Urban harbors and dock areas have lots of birds, especially if the water’s calm and there’s a minimum of boat activity.
5.     Vacant lots and abandoned industrial sites are usually full of birds, largely because of the lack of human activity, and the availability of nesting and roosting sites.
6.     Arboretums and parks are usually good sites, with mature trees, and many have benches and other resting places.
7.     Cemeteries are quiet and restful, often with large, mature trees. Birds love both!
8.     Roadside rest stops attract birds because of the avability of water, and (almost always) plants have been added to the sites.
9.     Utility line rights-of-way usually cut through heavily wooded, undisturbed land. The lines provide plenty of perches for birds.
10.   Edges of rural roads provide good habitat – mice congregate here, so many birds hunt here. You can also stay in your car as you birdwatch.

IT'S THE LAW !         The Migratory Bird Treaty Act and its amendments (which are federal law!) make it clear that it’s strictly forbidden to own, kill, injure or harass any native bird. Even ones that don't migrate! Generally, the law also unquestionably forbids messing with the nest of a protected bird in any way - even a little bit!  Cutting a tree down with a nest in it certainly qualifies as "illegal". If you see a possible violation, the Game Warden is the main enforcer, but any peace officer can start the ball rolling.
 The potential for harming a nest can happen any time of year, but NOW is the time of year when you're probably going to be okay. Anyway, before you take down a tree, dig a utility trench or ”clear” underbrush (where most birds nest) be absolutely, 100% sure there’s no bird nesting there. Occasionally I'll have trees cut down at my house. Before it comes down, however, I'll watch it carefully for a long while, making sure that no birds are nesting there.


OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at in Denton.

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