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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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?

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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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Update on Freedom . . . Slow Going

So much to do this holiday season that it's been hard to find extra time, and the same goes for Beverly Grage with Wild and Free Again.  She messaged this week that Freedom is not improving as quickly as she would like, but that this is not at all unusual for a bird with suspected Avian Vacuolar Myelinopathy (AVM). 

AVM is a newly discovered disease that was first identifed in the field in 1994 when dead bald eagles were found near DeGray Lake in Arkansas. It's been confirmed that Freedom suffered a shoulder fracture that had already remodeled by the time she was rescued, but Beverly suspects that this injury occurred because of the neurological damage inflicted by AVM.  

Suspected to be caused by a cyanobacterium that attaches to an invasive species of hydrilla, AVM is in many cases fatal.  Beverly has had her hands full with an influx of other critical care birds, but promises to send photos and and updates as she can.  Can you even imagine caring for over seventy injured birds in these freezing temperatures?  Many thanks to Beverly for attempting to rehab these creatures that cannot help themselves, and we hope to be able to help her continue this mission in the new year!  

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Fighting Giant Salvinia With Weevils

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Earlier this year, a group of volunteers from the Cypress Basin chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists helped distribute weevils in an effort to combat the invasive giant salvinia on Caddo Lake.

Under the direction of Lee Eisenberg, 45 large plastic totes were filled with weevil-infested salvinia from the Morley Hudson Greenhouse, loaded onto several boats then transported to Willowson's Woodyard where they were released.

The empty totes were then filled with fresh salvinia to replenish the greenhouse supply where weevils continue to reproduce.

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Why You Should Become a Texas Master Naturalist

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If you have any interest in nature, whether it is birds, wildflowers, kayaking, nature photography, hiking, or just love to be outdoors, you should consider joining Texas Master Naturalists. 

Texas Master Naturalist describes itself as a corp of well-informed volunteers to provide outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities for the State of Texas.  

Sounds like a governmental description, doesn't it? 

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