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Photos in the August|September 2017 issue

CelEBRATING 75 YEARS

Hold on to your hats as we kick off a year of celebration, culminating in December with the 75th anniversary of everyone's favorite magazine about the Texas outdoors (and the longest-running magazine in Texas).

 

This Month's Features

Sky Island Hummingbirds

Fort Davis opens gates to hummer heaven every fall.

By Madge Lindsay and photos by Larry Ditto

The tiny, iridescent speed bomb buzzes past with a loud hummm that inspires his name, stopping in midair, pivoting right and diving down to the bobbing blossom. As blurred wings keep the diminutive dandy aloft, he thrusts his long, slender bill deep into the flower’s corresponding shape for a drink of nectar and a dusting of pollen. Intent on gathering the large amounts of food needed to fuel his zippy metabolism, he pauses only to chase off a competitor. This avian favorite can turn on a dime, and he’s scarcely larger than one.

All 300 species of humming­birds, some of the world’s smallest birds, occur in the Western Hemisphere; only a small sampling make their way to North America. Incredibly, most U.S. hummingbird species can be found in West Texas during the fall migration from July through October, so it’s no surprise that bird watchers trek to the mile-high mountains of Fort Davis for the peak-season festival that allows access to myriad viewing hot spots: the Davis Mountains Hummingbird Celebration.

Broad-tailed, black-chinned and rufous hummingbirds are common sights here at this time, but attendees can add new species such as lucifer, ruby-throated and tiny calliope, the smallest of all North American hummingbirds and, at 3 inches long, the smallest migrating bird in the world.

(read more)

Texas' Royal Road

Traveled by explorers and settlers, El Camino Real gets new attention at State Parks.

By Emily Moskal

El Camino Real is Texas’ own Route 66; it’s the mother highway that carried travelers from Mexico to Louisiana long before concrete strips or railroad ties crisscrossed the state. As with that famed route, some communities along the way morphed into population centers we inhabit today, filled with varying cultures from those who traversed this camino, or road. Some communities just vanished, abandoned when railroads chose different courses.

Spanish explorer Alonso de León entered Texas in 1689 on what would later become known as El Camino Real de los Tejas. A suspected French interloper, Robert de la Salle, had landed on the north Gulf Coast near Matagorda Bay with the intent of establishing settlements, and the Spanish crown in Mexico thought they’d better send de León to remind la Salle that the land belonged to them.

It’s thought that the route followed Native American trails. El Camino Real de los Tejas would eventually expand and become a path of overland travel that runs through today’s Laredo, San Antonio and Austin, then northeast to Nacogdoches.

(read more)

Birding the Corners

Texas’ eight border-turns offer habitat diversity and birds galore

By Russell Roe and photos by Greg W. Lasley

Birders in Texas tend to go to the same places: the upper Texas coast, Big Bend, the Rio Grande Valley. For veteran bird watcher Chuck Sexton, that wasn’t enough. In his quest to explore Texas bird life, he resolved to visit every far-flung corner of the state.

Texas has eight corners — places where the state boundary takes a sharp turn in one direction or the other. Sexton, a retired wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, had visited several of the corners already. He’d birded El Paso. He’d been to Sabine Pass, South Padre and Dalhart. Six or seven years ago, he decided to bird all the corners, inspired by the Texas Ornithological Society’s Texas Century Club challenge of finding 100 bird species in 100 different counties.

Corners are often places overlooked or unseen, where dust tends to accumulate and the unwanted residue of daily life builds up. What did Sexton find when he started poking around these angular outposts of Texas?

In visiting all the corners, Sexton deepened his appreciation for the wildly varied habitats of the state.

(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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