Category Archives: Ducks, Geese, & Birds

Lead Shot Banned for Hunting Nuisance Birds

The art and science of wildlife management has always been rooted in population and habitat management. The objectives may vary from species to species, but the bulk of management has focused on these topics. Another component of wildlife management, however, is the control of nuisance wildlife. Enter another topic of concern — the use of lead shot in the field. For decades now, there has been concern on using lead shot for hunting, but now it seams lead shot is banned for hunting and controlling nuisance birds.

Wildlife Management: Lead Shot Banned for Hunting Nuisance Birds

On February 8, 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildife Service (USFWS) has banned the use of lead ammunition for hunting nuisance birds, citing the need to prevent lead toxicity hazards to wildlife. The decision was published by USFWS as a final rulemaking action in the Federal Register. So that’s that. Continue reading

Habitat Management on Crop Lands

Wintering waterfowl such as ducks and geese go hand-in-hand with agricultural fields. Crop fields such as corn, milo, and soybeans provide great wildlife habitat for waterfowl and landowners should implement habitat management to not only provide areas for winter-stressed birds to go, but also provide recreational activities and possibly even another form of income. Many wildlife professionals know that winter flooding of ag fields is beneficial for migrating wildlife, but the impacts to the farmer were unknown. That is why a four year research project was developed to study the impacts of ag field habitat management on crops. Here is what the study found:

Winter flooding did not affect crop production in the seasons following flooding even though the fields provided great duck habitat during the winter. Crop yields did not differ among flooded and nonflooded fields. In fact, yields from flooded fields were slightly greater than county-wide averages in the years during the study. Could this be because of natural fertilizers ducks and geese deposited while on site? Continue reading

Texas Duck 2009 Harvest Estimates

Duck and goose hunting is a big deal throughout the United States, but I grew up hunting ducks in the Central Flyway and look forward to doing so each year. With Texas receiving an early cool front in late August, I am getting pumped up about the upcoming duck season. Landowners and hunters that involved with wetland management for wintering ducks and geese should expect another great season!

Last year was hit and miss in Texas with regards to ducks numbers, though the traditional areas with good habitat had the birds as usual. The Texas coast put together some stringers of birds and so did the reservoirs in East Texas. There were also good duck hunting reports scattered throughout the central portion of the state. Continue reading

Mourning Dove Diseases: Trichomoniasis

Trichonomiasis is a Mourning Dove Disease

There are many diseases that can plague both mourning and white-winged doves in the United States. And some of these mourning dove diseases and white-winged dove illnesses can cause problems for local and migrating dove populations. Avian trichomoniasis, a naturally-occurring parasite, is the likely cause of minor dove die-offs observed recently in the Central Flyway.

“It’s a fairly common occurrence, but folks should be aware of it,” said Corey Mason, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) dove program leader. Trichomonas gallinae is a single cell protozoan common in nature that circulates within bird populations, impacting many different bird species including mourning and white-winged doves. In fact, trichomoniasis is considered by many avian disease specialists to be the most important disease of doves in North America. Outbreaks at bird feeding stations and similar locations reported to the National Wildlife Health Center have occurred from coast-to-coast within the USA. Continue reading

Bird House Plans: Design Ideas to Remember

Bluebirds, robins, chickadees, titmice, wrens, and purple martins adapt easily to using bird houses. They will choose rural or urban yards alike where there is a small patch of suitable habitat. This may consist of homemade bird houses and berry baskets of hair, moss, cottonballs, and yarn. Or, it may be a patch of wild garden and trees. The birds’ nest building and food gathering provide hours of entertainment to armchair bird watchers.

Nest Box Plans

First, almost any grade of untreated lumber can be used to build nest boxes for any bird species. Several types of wood, however, are more durable and desirable. Treated lumber should never be used for nest boxes. The most durable woods include cypress, cedar, and redwood. You will get much more life out of boxes constructed of these materials. Pine, although less durable, is easier to work and somewhat less expensive than other wood. Exterior-grade plywood can also be used; it is recommended for roof boards, no matter what lumber is used to construct the nest box. Lumber should be at least 3/4 inch thick to provide insulation for the birds. Nest box dimensions and height for placement are shown in the photo. Continue reading

Texas Birding Classic Raises Much Needed Funds

The 14th annual Great Texas Birding Classic wrapped up Sunday in the Rio Grande Valley. This marked the sixth year that Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory have worked together on the birding event, which is held every April to coincide with the annual spring bird migrations in the state. TPWD employees Cliff Shackelford and Shelly Plante represented the department this weekend.

The winning Energy Saver team has won now for three years in a row in this competition category to see the most species of birds per mile, with a 50-mile minimum. The winning Weeklong team has won for six years straight. Continue reading

Bird House Dimensions and Other Bird House Tips

Bird House Entrance Hole Dimensions

Bird houses are an easy way to create additional nesting sites and keep more birds around your home. In fact, bird houses have been in wildife management to help bring back certain cavity-using speices. In this fact article, we explain how to build houses for different kinds of bird species and even some tips for setting them up. As lands become more developed, bird houses become more important. In this article, you find a pattern for the “one-board” bird house in addition to a list of bird house dimensions (above) so you can adapt the pattern for different avian species. Tailoring the house you build to the needs of species you want to attract will increase your chances of success.

For bird houses for all species, here are 11 general guidelines to follow to help you help the birds on your property:

1. Provide a hinged side or roof so you can easily clean the house each spring; early March is a good time. Use rust-proof hinges to make the task easier. Keep in mind that raccoons can open a hook and eye!

2. Drill at least four 1/4-inch drain holes in the bottom of every house, and two 5/8-inch ventilation holes near the top of each side of the house. This keeps the nest well-drained and from over-heating. Continue reading