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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Latest from the Eagle's Nest - One Month In

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Exactly one month to the day of the first sighting of the eaglet chicks, Michael Mathews, Jill and Pete Wright, Linda Richtsmeier, and Jerry and I went out to check the nest.  We'll be doing this as often as we can, and posting photos so that we can all track their development!

Several photos follow, and on this afternoon, as always, one parent was in the nest with the eaglets.  Every time that we have visited, at least one parent is either in the nest or very close by; the other is surely out hunting.  At one point, the parent on duty seemed to be looking and whistling for the other.  

It appears that the babies have the last of the downy feathers on the tops of their heads and neck, as can be seen in some of the photos. They are growing rapidly at this phase, and adding a pound of body weight every four to five days!

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Living on the Edge...The Spring-Time Circus is Here!

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Glorious Springtime is in full swing here in the Piney Woods of East Texas.  While every season has its fine characteristics, nothing beats Spring for the welcome return of blossom colors, breeding season bird song, and balmier temperatures.  The sun's rising arc, shining through the new tree foliage, with its resulting shadow play on everything below it, just makes our landscapes fresh and new again.  The birds seem to echo this joy in the long, magnificent birdsong we hear daily now.  The time has come for the birds' pairing up, male and female, and the nest building has begun.  

 

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Michael
, Jill. The Cedar Waxwings made their run through here a few weeks ago and it was really fun. Every time I tried to get photos, ... Read More
Wednesday, 30 March 2016 15:34
Kristi Mears Thomas
Jill, I LOVE this, and am not sure how I missed it this past week. Your descriptions are so beautifully vivid and accurate. We'v... Read More
Tuesday, 05 April 2016 08:02
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I Know Why My Frustrated Mockingbird Sings

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Ah, it is Spring, and, as they say, a young man's fancy turns to love.  Well, a bird in this case. 

Last Spring, I had a Northern Mockingbird pair in my yard.  They built a nest in a tall bush about twenty-five feet from my front door and fifteen feet from the feeders.  For a couple of weeks or more it was interesting to watch their courtship and nest building.  

In a few weeks they were a bit more secretive and then a few weeks after that, three little fledglings appeared.  They would often sit in a group and beg whenever one of the parents got close.  All in all, as before, fun events to watch.  

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And Then There Were Two - Eagle's Nest, Week 4

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Making a quick check on Monday afternoon - the only day this week without predicted lake wind advisories - and at first only mom was visible on the nest.  Movement, then one head pops up.  We were thrilled and not expecting anything more, and within a few minutes, more movement to the left. A second little face is staring out!  Wow!  How great is this?  Not just one, but TWO eaglets in the nest! 

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Michael
OH BOY! And we had just about decided that there was only one since it had been so long since the first one appeared and none see... Read More
Wednesday, 23 March 2016 14:11
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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

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In June of 2015, Governor Greg Abbott signed a resolution designating Jasper, Texas as the Butterfly Capital of Texas. Although the resolution was passed because of the community’s efforts to help conserve the Monarch Butterfly, which passes through Jasper as one of the three major flyways for migration in the Fall, the resolution designated Jasper as the Butterfly Capital — not the Monarch Capital — of Texas. The Monarch is stunning, and important — it’s been designated as the State Insect of Texas. But since we are simply the Butterfly Capital, I think we should capitalize on some of the other gorgeous species that are indigenous to our Deep East Texas county.

By far the most stunning, in my opinion, is the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, scientifically known as Papilio glaucus. Black tiger stripes on its forewings makes the common name easy to remember when you see it gathering nectar Spring through Fall, with a preference for red and pink flowers.

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail can be seen throughout Eastern North America, and utilizes a number of host plants. Two of those hosts are very common in Jasper County — Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) and Black Cherry (Prunus serotina). They lay their eggs on the leaves of these host plants, and the caterpillar eats the leaves before that magical transformation into a butterfly. 

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