Written by an area Landscape Architect and birdwatcher with over 30 years of experience with landscaping in north Texas: what works and what doesn't. Emphasis on attracting birds to north Texas yards, and reducing required yard maintenance. Tips, trivia and proven advice for a natural, low-cost approach for this unique and sensitive part of the country.
Our wildlife, particularly birds, appears to be taking a big
hit, while we take our time talking about whether global warming is real or
not. Natural food supplies, breeding schedules, vegetative cover, prevailing
winds, temperatures et. al.are all
messed up.For example, in recent years,
American Goldfinches started arriving in north Texas at the beginning of
November. Last year it was about mid-November. This year, about early December.
This sortr of thing may seem like a small matter, but there are hundreds of such examples. A few other proven, researched examples:
Arizona, the breeding season of the Mexican Jay has been pushed up 10 days
between 1971 and 1998. This correlates with spring temperatures, which have
risen 4.5° F in the same period.
in Colorado have migrated to higher elevations, where they breed two weeks
earlier than in the late ‘70s. Many birds now arrive before the snow melts and
uncovers their food. So they starve.
population of Edith’s Checkerspot butterfly, normally throughout the west
coast, is drastically shrinking. In the southern part of its range, 80% of them
are gone due to climate change.
Alaska’s Cooper Islands, populations of Black Guillemot’s are declining as the
sea ice melts and recedes, affecting the birds’ primary food source, cod, which
live under the ice.
Blackbirds now arrive at their spring breeding grounds in Michigan 21 days
earlier than they did in 1960.
Warblers have been arriving at their breeding grounds in Virginia one day
earlier each year, for the last two decades, as spring temperatures have risen.
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 the 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 Yost87@charter.net in Denton.
are 215 species of Woodpeckers and closely-related birds worldwide. In north
Texas, five species are fairly common: Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied, Sapsucker and Flicker. However, I can think of several others
that make rare, accidental appearances here. The only lands that have no
Woodpeckers are islands; Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and
High mortality right now.Sadly, wild birds have a high death rate in
cool weather – it varies among species, but can be as high as 70% of the
first-year birds. This is mainly from exposure to the winds and weather,
coupled with a lack of fresh, energy-producing food.
They seek out warm “roosts”
for the night.North Texans have been
doing a good job of providing birds’ fall and winter needs, so we continue to
have more birds here in cool weather, than in the spring and summer. Actually a majority of
birds in north Texas don‘t migrate – they stay right here. Our winters are
comparatively mild and, if birds can adapt, they’ll stay put. Cardinals, Blue
jays, Chickadees, Robins, most Woodpeckers and Titmice are among those that
stay in-state. They may be less active (meaning they need less food and you see
them less) but they’re HERE. Some of the
year-‘round birds are what’s called “partial migrators”. All that means is that
they re-locate slightly (maybe a hundred miles or so, or into a valley) due to
the available food.
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 the 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 Yost87@charter.net in Denton.