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Saturday, March 19, 2016

THE BIRDS OF BIRDVILLE by L. N. GILBERT

Birding is today an avocation, an area of intense interest, and a source of great pleasure too millions of devotees in the United States and around the world.  But this increasing millions of bird lovers only occurred in the most recent decades. One hundred years ago the appreciation of birds for their beauty and evolved specialization was considered a bit strange by the general public, if not peculiar.

So I was very interested to receive a call recently from Nancy Jewell, a Travis Country resident, who offered me a book published in 1923.  This book had been in the library of a birder friend of  Nancy's husband.  THE BIRDS OF BIRDVILLE contains a collection of hand painted bird images, only a few of which are from Birdsville, Pennsylvania, to which we believe it refers. 

As bird books in 1923 were not common, this book is fascinating for its age and because it is in color. Here is a video of each page of this short book and the 48 bird images so that you may enjoy it also.  Thank you Nancy.



Saturday, June 13, 2015

TRAVIS COUNTRY BIRD WALK - JUNE 13, 2015


Eight people came together this morning for the last Bird Walk of the spring at Blue Valley in Travis Country.  Spring Bird Migration is now over so we didn't see any of the migrants that were present earlier in the spring, but we did see 14 different resident species around Travis Country Lake.


Following is a list of the bird species we saw today:
1. American Robin
2. Common Grackle
3. White-winged Dove
4. Northern Mocking Bird
5. Green Heron
6. Bewick's Wren
7. American Crow
8. Inca Dove
9. Eastern Wood Pewee
10. Barn Swallow
11.Great Crested Flycatcher
12. Turkey Vulture
13. Black Vulture
14. Red Tailed Hawk
15. Northern Cardinal


Green Heron

My favorite bird of the day was our resident Green Heron (above) that can be seen most days along the edge of the lake at Blue Valley. The Green Heron is a resident, largely non-migratory, of North and Central America, also known as the Green-backed Heron.



I would like to thank each of you for your participation in our TC Bird Walks this year.  Hopefully you enjoyed the outings and gained in your understanding of the Birds of Travis Country. A special thanks goes out to Sebastian and Sandra Casarez who traveled from Hutto for each bird walk to assist us in spotting and identifying our birds. Sebastian appears above with Glen & Tracy Novinger.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

BIRD NESTING IS AT ITS PEAK IN TRAVIS COUNTRY!

The Bird Nesting Season in Travis Country is at its peak.  Even though this is our first year for the TC Nest-box Program, we have had a very successful first season.

We have a total of 34 Bird Nest-boxes plus 1 Bat House installed in Travis Country and of these there are 12 nests with eggs or chicks in them.  In addition, there is a Mocking Bird nest in a tree in the Wild Flower Preserve  and a Greater Roadrunner nest in a tree in the Greenbelt along Magdelena Drive.  At the present time we don’t yet have bats in the Bat House in the Wild Flower Preserve.

Here is a list of the active nest-boxes and what is using them.
No. of Nests                Occupant
5                                  Berwick’s Wrens
6                                  Black-crested Titmouse
3                                  Eastern Screech Owl
1                                  Mocking Bird
1                                  Greater Roadrunner
3                                  European Starling
1                                  Squirrel
6                                  Ants
1                                  Possum
27                               Occupied Nests

So! We are dealing with the Possum, the squirrels, and the ants.  They were uninvited and unwanted.  But overall, we are pleased with the response for our first year with the nest-boxes.  

      Below are our favorite photos of the insides of the nest-boxes from last week.

    Black-crested Titmice, just ready to fly away from the nest.

    4 Newly hatched Eastern Screech Owlets

    5 Bewick's Wren Chicks

Please join us for our 3rd Bird Walk on Saturday, May 9, at 9am, leaving from the Blue Valley parking lot by the Community Office.

Glen Novinger

Thursday, April 2, 2015

BATS ARE OUR FRIENDS !

Bats are like a cuddly puppy.
Once you have met one, you will love them.
Coming to your neighborhood each night to remove your mosquitos.


Friday, March 20, 2015

FIRST TC BIRD WALK A SUCCESS !


The First TC Bird Walk was  a success with 20 people attending. We saw 25 species during a slow ramble around Blue Valley and Carrington Prairie. The bird list for the morning is below the picture.

 

Number of Species: 25


American Robin
Bewick's Wren
Black Vulture
Black-crested Titmouse
Blue Jay
Carolina Chickadee
Carolina Wren
Cedar Waxwing
Chipping Sparrow
Common Grackle
Cooper's Hawk
Downy Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Great-tailed Grackle
House Finch
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Lesser Goldfinch
Mallard
Mourning Dove
Northern Cardinal
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-shouldered Hawk
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Turkey Vulture
White-winged Dove

Our favorite bird of the morning was a Red-Shouldered Hawk. A pair has been nesting in Travis Country each spring for the past few years.


I took the above photo of a Red-shouldered Hawk at 
the Driskill Hotel in Austin last week.

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Copyright © 2015 Glen Novinger
All Rights Reserved

NEW BAT HOUSE IN TRAVIS COUNTRY WILDFLOWER PRESERVE



A new Bat House was installed last week in the Wild Flower Preserve near the entrance to Travis Country. It is located 20 feet high on an abandoned light pole and the installation was only possible with the kind assistance of Tom Baker of Driftwood Builders Restoration and his two long ladders.  Driftwood Builders Restoration has re-roofed many of the homes in Travis Country over the past few years.


Bats are mammalS, like humans, and play an essential role in the environment. The Mexican Free-Tailed Bat which is common in Austin can catch 600 mosquitos per hour each night, as well as other insects.  Other bat species pollinate flowers, fruits, and cacti. Most cacti and bananas cannot reproduce without the pollination of their flowers by bats.


This picture shows the bat house under construction. It has 5 separate living spaces which are only 3/4 inch in width.  The bats are happy with this narrow living space and the narrow access keeps out most predators.


With the Bat House installed, Glen Novinger and Tom Baker are seen here with Cynthia Wilcox, Secretary of the Travis Country Community Service Association.

We are happy to hear that our Austin bats began returning from Mexico to the Congress Avenue Bridge during the past few days. We only hope some of them will choose to spend the summer months in the new bat house in the Wildflower Preserve.


Monday, March 16, 2015

TWO JUVENILE BARN OWLS RELEASED NEAR LOCKHART, TEXAS

After several years trying, unsuccessfully, to attract Barn Owls to my nest-box in Travis Country, I moved my box on March 12 to a 37 acre farm located 5 miles west of Lockhart.  The farm is owned by Sallie Delahoussaye, who operates an owl and hawk rehabilitation center. She has cared for 9 young orphan barn owls over the winter and as the spring weather arrives she is releasing them into the wild.  Satisfactory nesting for Barn Owls is always a problem in our continuously more urban society, so she was glad to have a nest-box into which to release them.


There are as many as 46 races of the Common Barn Owls around the world.  They have a body length of 14 to 20 inches and when full grown have a wing span of up to 42 inches.  But amazingly, the total body weight of a female, who is slightly larger than the male, is only 17 - 25 ounces, or only slightly more than a pound.


After installing the nest-box, here with Stephanie Boyd, a rehabilitation volunteer with Sallie Delahoussaye, the two juvenile barn owls were placed into the nesting area of the box so they would be familiar with the location.


Stephanie placed one of the owls into the access door of the nest-box where he was content.  But upon opening the door to place the second one, the first one flew away.  You can see the first one leaving the nest box, just a fraction of a second before he flew away. This fraction-of-a-second photo was expertly caught by my wife, Tracy.

How unfortunate that the habitat of Travis Country is not to the liking of these beautiful Barn Owls so that we could enjoy seeing them in our Neighborhood.  But then again, they require 80 grams of food a day.  This equates to 4 large mice or a small rat.  Then the amount required for each growing chick if even greater. So, maybe we don't need more mice & rats in Travis Country!