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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Quite a few "urban birds" call north Texas home. Recognise any?

Common Grackles

Carolina Wrens

There are more birds living in and around the cities than you may think. I'm constantly amazed at how adaptable some birds are - finding food and a bit of habitat in the most unlikely places. These are the most numerous urban birds in this area..

American Robin Actually lives here year-‘round

House Finch Sometimes called a red-headed “Hollywood Finch”

Red-winged Blackbird Travels and feeds in large flocks

American Crow Extremely intelligent, for a bird

European Starling Imported from Europe around 1905

House Sparrow Not a true North American sparrow

Dove Several species, all with memorable songs

Killdeer Likes to nest near pavement

Rock Pigeon Well-adapted to city life

Carolina Chickadee Small, inquisitive bird

Tufted Titmouse Takes readily to birdhouses

Grackle Their range is expanding northward

Wren Several species of this active, loud bird

Northern Mockingbird Our official state bird

Blue Jay Large bird that loves peanuts

White-winged Doves



Carolina Chickadee
American Robin

Blue Jays







Sunday, October 13, 2013

Avoiding those pesky hot-air balloon injuries!

 Rabies incidents from bats; not as much. During the past 50 years, only 48 U.S. residents, according to open records, contracted rabies from bats; that’s less than one per year. That’s less than the number of hot-air balloon injuries in the entire country during the same time period! (for comparison: in 2001 alone, 15,989 people contracted TB).
 Nationally, less than half of one percent of bats have rabies. Bats aren’t rabies vectors anyway (which is an animal that can transmit the disease without contracting it), and almost always die from it before infecting anyone.
Xeriscaping is not just rocks and cactus     In an effort to be ecological, some homeowners have replaced lawns with large patches of gravel.  All this does is create even more heat, which we don’t need in Texas. Good intent, but WRONG. Gravel and rocks tend to heat up the area including the soil. In turn, this actually increases water and energy use since water now evaporates faster, and the well-intentioned owner uses air conditioners more.
The increased heat activates dormant weed seeds beneath the gravel. It quickly becomes riddled with weeds and spotty grass clumps (which break through to the sunlight), becoming a big maintenance problem.
Most species of cacti don’t do well in north Texas, anyway.  Ground covers and tall, prairie grasses are far better Xeriscaping tools, and are much more ecological. They’re better for birds too. I have a list of good “birdscape” plants (that grow here with minimal effort), I’d be glad to share with you.



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 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.