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Photos shot for the May 2018 issue

 

 

 

 

 

The Year of Epic Texas Challenges

Texas' vast and diverse landscapes and array of outdoor pursuits offer thrills for participants and spectators alike. Each issue of 2018 will feature an event to challenge even the most extreme athletes and sportsmen. We hope you'll enjoy reading it from the comfort of your armchair or perhaps be inspired to try a new pursuit.

Radical Maneuvers

Catch a wave at the Texas State Surfing Championships.

With five minutes remaining in the contest, 8-year-old Port Aransas surfer Keagan Sohl carves a turn at the top of a wave. Her board’s nose catches under the water, dives, tips and flings her off; the tail of her board flips and sails toward her, bumping her head.

Briefly stunned, she treads water and cries out to her mother, Brooke, who’s looking down from the pier above with her hands pressed against her head in sympathy.

“I hit my head on the fins!”

Keagan cries, and slaps the water in frustration.

“You’re not bleeding — you’re OK!” shouts Brooke.

(read more)

11 Birdbrained Behavior

Our state ornithologist answers, 'Why do birds do that?'

When my kids were newborns, I never knew how fascinated I’d be with their behaviors — and the questions they inspired. Why this? Why not that? When my kids became toddlers, they had new behaviors, and I had more questions.

Now that one’s a teenager and the other a preteen, the list of interesting behaviors I’ve observed and my questions that accompany them (plus the few answers that explain them) might be as thick as a big-city phone book.

It’s much the same for non-human animals.

Did you ever wonder why your backyard mockingbird, while foraging on the lawn, flashes its wings? Is it to startle potential prey hiding in the grass? Perhaps. Scientists specializing in animal behavior, ethologists, often don’t have all the answers, and many don’t agree on why the mockingbird is so flashy with those wings.

Ethologists have described many things birds do, so let’s take a peek at 11 bird behaviors that you may encounter when afield in Texas. These kinds of behavioral questions keep observers like you and me interested and searching for answers.

(read more)

Born to Boom

Breeding program restocks chicks in a battle to bring Attwater's back from the brink.

Come spring, the Attwater’s prairie-chicken intensive management area at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center kicks into high gear. Since 1992, the critically endangered birds have been safeguarded within pens here to do what they’ve done for eons: propagate their species in a most colorful and dramatic way.

As they do on breeding display grounds (called leks) in the wild, but protected here from predators, the male birds perform an elaborate courtship ritual. They drum their feet in a distinctive dance, inflate bright orange air sacs on their necks and emit a booming sound, all to attract a female. The birds then mate and produce eggs that represent the future of the species.

At Fossil Rim (near Glen Rose), these captive birds do it all under the watchful eyes of humans determined to save the Attwater’s prairie-chicken from almost certain extinction.

(read more)


 

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Keep Texas Wild

It's not just for kids. If you like nature-related topics in an easy-to-read format, you can find three years of our popular Keep Texas Wild issues and the teacher resources to go along with them.




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