East Texas Naturalist Blog

Information and photographs mainly about nature in east Texas. Our authors have widely diverse backgrounds and write on a variety of topics.

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Spring in the Lost and Found Box

Spring in the Lost and Found Box
Eastern Kingbird

Great Blue Heron

Brown-headed Cowbird

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker

Diamondback Watersnake

Northern Cardinal

We had a big storm blow through the Lake O' the Pines area last night. For a while, the winds were rather fierce accompanied by a drumming rain that brought a bit of hail and just ...
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Appreciating Spring Can't be Done on the Computer

Appreciating Spring Can't be Done on the Computer
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With the arrival of Spring, even after not much of a winter, my life changes. I am not crazy about being inside all the time anyway, but with Spring, it is all I can do to spend any time inside. After all, how many Springs do we have in our lifetimes? Maybe 70 good ones (taking away a few from when we are too young to appreciate them)? When you have a bunch of Springs behind you already, you sure don't want to miss any of the ones that are left.

It has been a busy Spring for me, but I have managed to get out and enjoy it. In keeping with that thought, I am not going to spend a great deal of time typing away here. Instead, let me share some of the photos that I have taken this Spring.

 American Robin

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Why Are My Red Squirrels Turning Black?

Why Are My Red Squirrels Turning Black?
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As I am want to do, I recently moved my RV to a new site. This time it is on the banks of Lone Star Lake only ten miles or so from the spot on Lake O' the Pines where I had been for quite a while. 

This relatively short move revealed a lot of changes in the wildlife. Of course, at the old location, I was closer to some rather remote woods (a few hundred yards away in two directions). Here, it is more of a residential area. I knew there would be some differences with the wildlife that I was used to seeing and, indeed, there were some major changes.

In particular, there were far fewer birds, although it turned out that there are as many species, including some that I see here and didn't see there; and vice versa. The numbers are very different. Here, it is unusual to have more than ten birds at a time on my feeders (eight of them out right now) and before, that would be very few, dozens were more likely. 

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Nature Encounters Man

Nature Encounters Man
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There was an occurrence on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 that brings to mind that sometimes man and nature collide.  On a return trip from Sabine County on Hwy 194 a large delivery truck was stopped on the left side of the road.  About 8 feet in front of the truck was a body.  My traveling companion yelled out, "That's an eagle!" 

Several yards down the highway there was a safe place to make a U-turn and we returned to the accident scene.  After parking behind the truck we approached the driver as he climbed from the cab.  He appeared to be in a state of shock and didn't know what to do.  He quickly explained that he too had been traveling west when the large bird appeared in the roadway and tried to take flight dropping the carrion from his talons, but being unsuccessful in lifting high enough to clear his truck it had crashed into the truck grill.  He knew that he had hit something big so he turned his truck around and returned to the scene.

 He had taken pictures of the eagle to show the freight company owner as an explanation of the dented grill and license plate.  I told him to call the Sabine County Sheriff's office and explain what had happened and ask them to send a game warden to the scene.  This is a rural area and cell phone service is scarce so in order to keep his next scheduled delivery he left saying that he would contact the Sheriff's Office as soon as he had cell service.  We moved my car with flashing lights nearer the eagle so it wouldn't be hit by passing cars.  Carefully, we even moved it over about 2 feet so it would be "safer."  I checked for a band; none to be seen.  My friend stroked the beautiful feathers asking if it would be alright to take one tail feather.   Then,  "Can't we just put it in the back of your car and take it somewhere?"  

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Freedom Rising?

Freedom Rising?

A few weeks ago, Beverly reported that Freedom had stopped eating, even though she was feeding her daily by hand. She finally determined that she might be depressed, and was able to move some other birds around and get her to a flight cage that let sunlight in.  (Can you even imagine having seventy some-odd injured, sick, and healing birds to look after, and the effort involved in keeping them all situated, fed, and comfortable?  I cannot.) Long story short, she was able to move Freedom; gradually her depression seems to have lifted, and her appetite has improved. Beverly says it's a good sign that she has enough spunk to bite her hand now! 

This is not an uncommon situation for birds with Avian Vacuolar Myelinopathy (AVM).  Freedom is far from being out of the woods and back to the wild, but there is hope that eventually she can shake this. Beverly related that she has a mature eagle in her care currently with AVM, and a few weeks back, it was if a switch had been turned and those scrambled neuronal circuits reconnected.  This condition is unpredictable, at best. 

Many thanks to Beverly for the valuable work that she does.  We hope to be able to visit her facility in the coming months, and in the meantime she has sent the best photo she could get of Freedom.  We know there is not a lot of time in her day for photo opps, so we appreciate this, too!

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