Friday

Virtual Wanderlist: Museums 2



We end our Virtual Wanderlist with a few places not exactly related to parks, wildlife, nature or the outdoors. But what virtual tour list would be complete without museums that celebrate our more artistic leanings?  Here are some of the best virtual art collections in Texas.


Can't make it to Fort Worth? Kimbell Art Museum is one of several in Texas to offer online options.

The Kimbell Art Museum incorporates all multi-media has to offer. Using interactive photographs, videos, hundreds of audio tours – many specifically for children – art-making activities AND a mobile app, Kimbell From Home is the art museum virtual tour you didn’t know you were missing. 

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston asks “can you name 5 women artists?”  The answer is #5WomenArtists, an online exhibit that features the work of women whose art is represented in their collection. MFAH offers other online galleries as well, presenting written text detailing the textiles, paintings, prints and photographs displayed.

The Dallas Museum of Art is a master of online curation, allowing visitors to explore art by pre-defined collections such as department, color, motif, century or object. For those looking to integrate online viewing with at-home learning, their Extended Information section has Teaching Ideas for specific items in the collection.  

The San Antonio Museum of Art has hundreds of items viewable online. Browse by collections from around the world, search by artist, title or medium, or use the advanced search tool to set specific parameters.  

The Blanton Museum of Art uses interactive tools that allow you to experience their pieces more closely than you ever could in person.  Whether room-sized installations, ancient pottery or European masterworks, zoom in to explore detail, texture and design up close and (virtually) personal.  And while you’re there, don’t miss out on their in-depth exploration of Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin.  

While not precisely a virtual tour, simply visiting the McNay Art Museum home page opens a visual window on several outstanding exhibits on fashion, pop culture and minimalist art. Scroll through its offerings but don’t forget to click “more info” for video and details on the collections. 

And, of course, We hope that with these resources you and your family can explore the world while remaining healthy and safe.

If you enjoyed these virtual tours share this post and invite your friends to subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. An all-access subscription gives you instant access more than 600 articles, plus 1 year of updates!

Thursday

Virtual Wanderlist: Museums 1


Museums are always a great go-to over Spring Break when volatile spring weather brings seasonal storms and cold fronts.  As it turns out, museums can be a great go-to when working and learning from home. You and your family can practice social distancing and visit many of the same Texas museums online that you would have visited in person.

Don't let the name fool you. The LBJ Presidential Library isn't all about politics!

Take a tour of the Oval Office, or at least AN Oval Office, at the LBJ Presidential Library. This 7/8ths scale replica of what the office looked like during LBJ’s presidency comes complete with audio of the phone conversation that led to the creation of this exhibit. The site also includes online exhibits ranging from the historical impact of the 1960s to artifacts and documents that explore the history of the University of Texas.

It’s a perennial top 10 on everyone’s things-to-do in Texas list. We’re speaking of course about The Alamo. And it still can be on that list with a virtual tour!  This navigable tool lets you select what to view from a drop-down menu or from an accessible map, and 360-degree views place you in the middle of the picture. To give added context, stop at the digital battlefield page for visualizations of what Alamo Square looked like in the early 19th century.

The only museum in Texas created by the state legislature for the purpose of memorializing Texas as a nation, the Star of the Republic of Texas Museum has a number of online exhibits that mesh perfectly with those 4th and 7th graders at home needing a little Texas History curriculum. Previous exhibits such as Texas cartography or the works of John James Audubon in Texas are archived, and a virtual tour is available online (requires Flash player) or through their Texas1836 mobile app for iOS or Android.

Journey through aviation history with this curated exhibit at the Frontiers of Flight Museum, Dallas Love Field, or tour the entire site virtually courtesy of Google Arts & Culture (click the little orange figure in the bottom right corner). 

It’s not quite visual but it’s interactive. The Bullock Museum hosts The Texas Story project, an oral history project that shares the lives and experiences of people throughout the state. Read their stories and then share your story. And of course, it IS the Story of Texas, so you can also browse historical artifacts in the museum’s collection. Use the search tool to narrow down by region, time period or artifact type.

The 14,000 square-foot Bandera Natural History Museum sits on eight acres of Texas Hill Country. With a focus on nature-related educational programming, the museum houses full body animal mounts, international artwork and life-sized dinosaur and ice age animal reproductions. Visit their gallery for photos and videos or their interactive dioramas to learn more about the natural world.

The Witte Museum is an eclectic blend of history, nature and art that sits on the banks of the San Antonio river.  As with many of the destinations in our post, the Witte is currently closed. But that doesn’t mean they’re CLOSED, closed. Witte Where You Are brings demonstrations and tours straight to you! 

Who doesn’t either love or hate creepy-crawlies? Either way they engender a lot of emotion. Take an online tour of The Brown Hall of Entomology at the Houston Museum of Natural Science for up-close views of phasmids, moths and other critters that skitter and flutter in the night. You can also peek at the Paleontology, Malacology and Gems and Minerals Halls while you’re there. And by there, obviously we mean on the website.

Even if it's not rainy where you are, we hope that with these resources you and your family can explore the world inside while remaining healthy and safe - also inside.

If you enjoyed these virtual tours share this post and invite your friends to subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. An all-access subscription gives you instant access more than 600 articles, plus 1 year of updates!

Wednesday

Virtual Wanderlist: AZA Live Streams

We want to start by saying that a plethora of AZA accredited zoos and aquariums across the U.S. are hosting daily live streams on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms. We can’t begin to list them all here.


The Houston Zoo has live streams of some of the largest and smallest habitats.

Instead, the following are daily live cams of a variety of animals at zoos and aquariums across the country. This is list is by no means exhaustive, and you check their websites as many offer audio commentary on set schedules.

As with any wildlife, animals in enclosures and aquariums won't always behave as expected. We can't guarantee that the animals will always cooperate, but we hope that with these resources you and your family can explore the world outside while remaining healthy and safe inside.

Aquarium of the Pacific
Beardsley Zoo 
Chattanooga Zoo 
El Paso Zoo 
Georgia Aquarium
Houston Zoo
Memphis Zoo 
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Moody Gardens
National Aquarium
National Zoo
Reid Park Zoo 
San Diego Zoo
Woodland Park Zoo 
Zoo Atlanta
If you enjoyed this shelter-in-place safari, share this post and invite your friends to subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. An all-access subscription gives you instant access more than 600 articles, plus 1 year of updates!

Tuesday

Virtual Wanderlist: The National Parks Edition

If you yearn for wide open spaces, the National Parks Service has teamed up with Google to bring the beauty of several National Parks to your home. Or office. Or, you know, home office.


Fire or ice. Deep or high. Which will you visit first?

The following parks offer Park Ranger guided tours to hidden parts of the parks not generally visited by the average tourist.



Many of the other parks can be explored using a version of Google Maps’ street view or Google Earth,including several Texas parks like San Antonio's San Juan, San Jose, San Francisco and Mission Concepcion, and Guadalupe Mountains and Big Bend both in far West Texas.  And they haven’t neglected park visitors’ centers, making available a number of interactive gallery collections as well.

This colab is an exceptional way to travel the breadth of the country without ever leaving your home. Which is lucky, given that right now most of us can’t.

If you enjoyed these virtual tours share this post and invite your friends to subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. An all-access subscription gives you instant access more than 600 articles, plus 1 year of updates!

Monday

Virtual Wanderlist: Distance Learning for Kids

We know it's unbelievable but it seems as if children across the state are starting to miss going to school. Many districts are still working on implementing on-line learning as Governor Abbott's order extends closures through the end of April.

Meanwhile, your children crave structure. They're tired of being bored. They're looking to you for things to do. 

And luckily enough, we've heard your unspoken pleas and gathered some of the best distance learning opportunities Texas has to offer.



Distance learning opportunities at Texas State Aquarium engage children and adults alike.

If you missed your beach vacation for Spring Break we have good news for you. The Texas State Aquarium can give you back a little of that ocean feel with their Aquavision program.  The Aquarium typically offers two paid levels of at-home courses, Blue and Gold, but in the face of nationwide school closures, are providing a limited series of daily distance learning for free.

For the rest of the school year the Bullock Museum is offering their Distance Learning program at no cost. These TEKS integrated, online learning courses cover different topics in Texas History and are just the thing if you’re looking for study opportunities at home. (Distance Learning courses require connection via www.connect2texas.net)

A little bit science, a little bit history, The Mayborn Museum at Home Program brings the experience of this Baylor University complex to you. Virtual visits and follow-along activity videos are perfect for filling those long hours at home.

The Children’s Museum of Houston offers dozens of free resources for online and at-home STEM experimentation and learning.   

The John C. Freeman Weather Museum is a permanently virtual collection of weather topics to explore. Become weather-wise at home by learning about weather modeling or forensic meteorology while using up-to-the-minute satellite and radar imagery. 

The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History has done a deep-dive into distance learning with Discovery Lab, a state standards-based interactive program in STEAM and history courses. Live animal demos, hands-on art and science experiments and the history of artifacts in their collection are presented in free daily lessons. 

Not to be outdone, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science offers Amaze Your Brain at Home! In addition to a video series, at home activities are presented by grade level so there’s something appropriate for all the kids languishing at home.

We hope that with these fun and educational resources, your family can explore the world outside while remaining healthy and safe inside.

If you enjoyed these learning opportunities share this post and invite your friends to subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. An all-access subscription gives you instant access more than 600 articles, plus 1 year of updates!

Friday

Virtual Wanderlist: Camping In

The spring weather's been gorgeous lately, making us lament missed opportunities to get out the camping gear. We're sure you've read that backyard camping can be just as fun, and have seen tips on how to make it happen for you and your family. But once you set up what do you do then? Luckily enough, Texas Parks & Wildlife can bring virtual camping directly to you.




This month Texas Outdoor Family is hosting live, virtual programming that takes some of the guesswork out of camping IN. TOF Rangers and Buffalo Soldiers will be streaming live from their backyards and living rooms straight to you bringing you the best in...


Sounds of the Night ◉ Virtual Stargazing ◉ 30 Miles on Beans & Hay ◉ S'moresgasbord Galore! ◉ Hook, Line & Sinker ◉ Dutch Oven Delights ◉ Campfire to the Kitchen ◉ Artist in Residence ◉ Camping with your Pets ◉ Coffee History ◉ Essentially Prepared ◉ Earth Day ◉ Photography ◉ Birding for Beginners ◉ Migratory Marvels ◉ LNT in Your Backyard ◉ Firebuilding 101 ◉ Fort Building Families

And it all culminates in the #TexasOutdoorFamilyCampIn on Saturday, May 2nd, from 1PM to 8PM!

For more information and a detailed schedule of events visit Texas Outdoor Family on Facebook. We hope to see you there!

If you know someone who misses camping as much as we do share this post and invite them to subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. An all-access subscription gives you instant access more than 600 articles, plus 1 year of updates!

Thursday

Virtual Wanderlist: An Intro to Wildlife Live Streams

We know how it feels. Spring Break came and went with little to show for it but antsy kids and queuing up to go grocery shopping. Even with extended breaks and moving to online classes for Texas school children and college students, it’s not as if there’s anywhere they can go or anything they can see. Well, at least not in person. 

Luckily, we have the next best thing, a Virtual Wanderlist – wildlife viewings, virtual tours of parks, museums and zoos and distance learning. Join us as we guide you to the best the internet has to offer at virtual travel, while sneaking in some education for all the kids and adults stuck at home.

We wouldn't be Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine without mentioning wildlife. There are a dazzling array of live streams available that will keep you up-to-date in real time with animals in Texas and throughout the country. 
Tower Girl incubates her eggs on March 26, 2020.
The first to catch our eye was The University of Texas at Austin Biodiversity Center’s Falcon Cam. Tower Girl is a Peregrine Falcon who calls the UT Tower home. She’s currently incubating a clutch of eggs in her nesting box 300+ feet in the air.  Visit this cam to see the grace and beauty of a native Texas raptor. And, just maybe, you can catch her eggs hatching. 

Other avian live streams:
If you prefer something a bit more terrestrial, Texas Wildlife Cams runs a live stream from a ranch outside of San Angelo. A handy guide tells you the most likely time to tune in to view native wildlife as well as identification of the plants seen on camera. 

Other terrestrial live streams:
But maybe the animals of the deep are more your thing?  The giant kelp forests of the Pacific Ocean are home to a variety of fish and marine mammals. This live stream camera sits off Anacapa Island in the Channel Islands.

Other oceanic live streams:
We can't guarantee that the animals will always cooperate, but we hope that with these resources you and your family can explore the world outside while remaining healthy and safe inside.

If you enjoyed these peeks at the wildlife outside share this post and invite your friends to subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. An all-access subscription gives you instant access more than 600 articles, plus 1 year of updates!

Wednesday

12 Ways to Have Fun Today with Homebound Kids

School closings challenge Texan parents to educate, entertain 




Have you become the entertainment coordinator for housebound children? They can’t, and shouldn’t, watch screens all day long, so it’s a good time to set them up for some interactive fun. From mud pies to citizen science, we’ve got a dozen engrossing outdoor activities for all ages.

Use technology to explore
Unplugging from the distractions of technology is great, but it's not always an option. There are so many apps now that can help kids explore with confidence and understand the natural world they are encountering. There are apps to identify birds, locate geocaches, create maps, identify trees or name the constellations at night. One of our favorites is Seek from iNaturalist.

Make a mud pie
Messy and creative, mud pie preparation can happen anywhere and requires little supervision. Spoons, sticks, cookie cutters and aluminum pie plates make useful tools. Seeds, pebbles, leaves and nuts from a nearby tree add interest. As they work, kids learn about the texture, absorption and drying characteristics of different soils.

Take a nature walk
Walking in nature doesn’t have to be a long, strenuous journey. For kids, a short walk with active conversation about the natural world around them is enough to grab their attention. Any neighborhood walk can be turned into a nature walk when you stop to think about what you smell, hear, see or feel. Having intentional stops every 10 minutes is a great way to turn exercise time into exploration time.

Have a scavenger hunt
You can create a scavenger hunt just about anywhere. Take a walk in your neighborhood or set up your backyard for items you want kids to discover. Make up a list of clues. You can have them check things off a list or record their discoveries by taking a photo of their finds. (Consider ages when writing up the clues.)

Build a fort
Older children can make a lean-to with sticks and branches, string a tarp between trees or build a more elaborate hangout with lumber and nails. Whichever method they choose, the important thing to remember is to let the kids use their imagination and sense of cooperation to build their special place.

Go camping in your own backyard
Got a tent? Set it up outside, throw in sleeping bags and pillows. If allowed, build a campfire and toast marshmallows while you tell ghost stories and listen to night sounds. If you have an extra tent, fill it with toys for the little ones or set up a puzzle or board game for older kids.

Make a video
Videos can be a fun way to capture and share an outdoor adventure. Be spontaneous and edit together what happened that day. Or go bigger by writing a script, drawing storyboards and using nature as the backdrop for the story. Let your imagination run free. Editing is easy on your smartphone.

Create art from nature
From Walt Disney to Monet, artists near and far have looked to nature to inspire them. Art can be a watercolor painting or a simple arrangement of rocks, sticks and leaves. Another creative art project is to let kids photograph what they see in nature — make a collage from the images or put them into a journal. Older kids might consider making a short video. You can also create something useful like a birdhouse and give it an artful flair by letting the young ones paint it and apply sticks, feathers, string or other decorations for a one-of-a-kind project.

Play old-fashioned games
Grandparents knew how to have fun without a lot of fancy equipment. Teach kids to pitch washers or horseshoes. Organize a sack race or a tug-of-war. Try tag, hide-and-seek, Red Rover, jump rope, I Spy, marbles or jacks. these games date back hundreds of years, and once they've learned the basics, kids will invent their own variations. 

Explore a mini-landscape
Using a hula hoop or length of rope, mark off a circle on the ground — or try making two circles, one in a sunny area and one in shade. Challenge kids to list or describe each type of plant and animal found within the circle. Pencil, paper and a magnifying glass will come in handy.

Fly a kite
It's sheer joy to be out on a windy March day holding the string of a soaring kite. Inexpensive store-bought kites give plenty of thrills, but it's even more fun to make your own. Use paper plates, paper sacks, gift wrapping, drinking straws and string. How many aeronautical engineers began by flying kites when they were kids?

Hold contests
Create nature-inspired contests. Who can find the weirdest insect? Who can locate the most plant varieties, or flowers? Have kids see who can gather the most sticks — great when you're trying to build a campfire. Have a field guide handy so kids can identify their finds. Or see if they can find something starting with every letter of the alphabet, or objects that resemble every letter of the alphabet.

Create obstacle courses
Let kids create their own obstacle course using things around the house and yard. Try hula hoops, small logs, different things to jump or climb over. Even the dog can get into the act. Find that old croquet set and transform the stodgy playing field into a crazier one with new twists and turns like your favorite putt-putt course.

Find more ways to get your family outdoors in Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine’s “35 Ways to Get Out and Play” and “50 Ways to Get Kids Hooked on the Outdoors.”

We’ve got lots of information on our Texas Parks and Wildlife Department education pages.

Richard Louv of Children in Nature offers some good advice for helping your family get through the pandemic by using nature.

Share this post and invite your friends to subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine to get more tips like this. We have an all-access subscription offer. 

Thursday

White-Nose Syndrome Confirmed in Texas Bat

Cave myotis found dead in Gillespie County last month




For the first time, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists have confirmed the disease white-nose syndrome in a Texas bat. Up until this point, while the fungus that causes the disease was previously detected in Texas in 2017, there were no signs of the disease it can cause. WNS has killed millions of hibernating bats in the eastern parts of the United States, raising national concern.  

WNS is a fungal disease only known to occur in bats and is not a risk to people. However, bats are wild animals and should not be handled by untrained individuals. The public is encouraged to report dead or sick bats to TPWD  for possible testing.  

The infected bat was a cave myotis (Myotis velifer) found dead in Central Texas (Gillespie County) on Feb. 23. The specimen was sent to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center for testing and was confirmed positive for WNS through skin histopathology and also tested positive for the fungus.  

While the fungus was detected for the first time in Texas in early 2017 in the Panhandle, the first detections from Central Texas were in 2018. In 2019, biologists reported finding high levels of the fungus on cave myotis at several Central Texas locations. It has now been found in 21 counties across the state.  

“Finding WNS in Central Texas for the first time is definitely concerning,” says Nathan Fuller, Bat Specialist at TPWD. “Biologists had hoped that white-nose syndrome, a disease that thrives in cold conditions, might not occur in warmer parts of Texas. We’re following up on several other reports to determine whether this was an isolated incident or if the impacts are more widespread. We recently received a report from site in Bell County of five cave myotis that we suspect were infected as well. We should know more in the next few weeks.” 

White-nose syndrome is caused by the cold-adapted fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans and has been rapidly spreading since its discovery in New York in 2007. It is thought to have been introduced from Europe where bats appear to be resistant to the fungus. In parts of the United States there have been declines in winter bat numbers of greater than 90 percent. Bats are very long lived and because many produce just one offspring per year, researchers are concerned it could take many decades for some populations to recover from a major decline.  

Through support from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, TPWD has funded research projects with Bat Conservation International (BCI), the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute, and Texas State University to study bats, the fungus and possible treatments.  

A locator map of fungus detections in Texas in 2019 is available online.   

Learn more about white-nose syndrome and Texas bats in our 2019 feature.  

Share this post and invite your friends to subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine to get more tips like this. We have an all-access subscription offer.   

Tuesday

Spring Break at Texas State Parks

Four Tips for the Best Family/Friends Getaway



Looking for the ultimate spring break nature experience for your friends or family? Texas state parks are the perfect places to get outside and enjoy the diverse landscapes that make up Texas. With opportunities to swim, walk and play at many parks, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Here are a few tips to ramp up the fun during spring break.

1. Check Availability Online
It’s never been easier to save your spot at a state park, whether you’re visiting for a day or a week. You can now pick your campsite, “save the date” with day-use reservations and purchase your Texas State Parks Pass online. Social media pages offer updates on weather conditions and crowding.

2. Visit a New Park
With 89 state parks around Texas, there is always something new to discover. Instead of fighting the crowds at old favorites, why not visit a “new to you” state park like Mother NeffEstero Llano Grande or Cleburne?

3. Take Part in a Park Program or Activity
Park staff hosts many guided activities, including bird walks, kayaking tours, archery 101 classes, arts and crafts, yoga in the park, stargazing and cooking demos, to name just a few.

4. Plan a Mini-Adventure
At Longhorn Cavern State Park, visitors can learn about the history and geology of the cave. Head out west to climb a mountain (and catch a cool breeze) at Franklin Mountains State Park or relax by the Sabinal during the off-season (translate “not crowded”) at Lost Maples State Natural Area. There are so many experiences, from challenging to relaxing, to discover across the state.

Find other state parks near you here

Share this post and invite your friends to subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine to get more tips like this. We have an all-access subscription offer.