Saturday

World Migratory Bird Day - May 9th


For over 25 years World Migratory Bird Day has been celebrated around, well, the world.

The colorful Northern Parula can be seen during early spring migration. © Paul Reeves | Dreamstime.com

This global campaign brings awareness to migratory bird conservation, organized around the planet’s migratory bird corridors.  Here in Texas, we see birds migrating along the Americas corridor through the Central and Mississippi flyovers.

For some species, Texas is a temporary home for breeding, while others are just stopping along their route. However long they stay, their beauty, grace and birdsong are something we can all enjoy.

Iridescent feathers make the Ruby-throated Hummingbird a welcome guest. © Steve Byland | Dreamstime.com


More information about migratory birds and the flyways through Texas can be found at the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

Learn more about migratory birds in Texas in the (virtual) pages of our magazine.


If you enjoyed learning about the importance of migratory birds, share this post and invite your friend to subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. For a limited time enjoy three months of digital access to600+ articles for only $1.99!

Thursday

Texas Game Wardens Celebrate 125th Anniversary

From Resource Protection to Hurricane Rescues, Game Wardens Take Care of Texas


Hurricane Ike rescue, 2008 Photo by Earl Nottingham/TPWD

For 125 years, Texas Game Wardens have protected not only the residents and visitors of Texas, but the state’s incredible natural resources as well. Since 1895, “call your game warden” has been the best answer to a wide array of problems and questions, especially in rural communities, where they are best known for their work with hunting/fishing law enforcement.

There have been a lot of milestones along the way:
  • 1946: First game warden school held at Texas A&M University 
  • 1971: Game wardens given peace officer status 
  • 1979: First female game warden 
  • 2007: Museum established at Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens 
  • 2009: New training center opens in Hamilton County

Specialized teams have expanded the capabilities of game wardens in exciting new ways over the past decade, as we profiled a few years ago in the magazine. Underwater and swift-water recovery teams have proved invaluable in emergencies; unmanned aerial systems, forensic accident reconstruction and criminal analysis keep game wardens up-to-date on the latest crime-solving techniques.
One of our most recent game warden features, “Black Market Wildlife,” tells the fascinating stories of illegal wildlife trade investigations, such as gigantic fish, all kinds of turtles, shark fins, hummingbird love charms and a long list of banned items for sale at flea markets.
“We’ve seen everything,” says game warden Steve Stapleton. “We’ve found live white-tailed deer in cages for sale, raccoons for sale, opossums, armadillos. It never ceases to amaze me what we’ll find.” 
The K-9 unit, established in 2013 has won the hearts and imaginations of many Texans, including some of our youngest residents. We get a little misty when we read this passage from Mike Cox’s 2014 article, “Ready to Rescue.”
“The youngsters had been trapped with their parents atop their roof when Onion Creek turned into a raging river … Although safe, they were scared and crying. Then they spotted Game Warden Christy Vales’ dog, Ruger, a Labrador retriever. Their tears drying quickly, the kids bolted toward the dog to pet it, their recent harrowing experience at least temporarily forgotten.”
Game wardens provide heroic efforts after major disasters, especially the devastating hurricanes that devour everything in their path. In 2008, 200 game wardens came out after Hurricane Ike to help with rescue and recovery efforts. In 2017, 368 wardens rescued more than 12,000 persons from Hurricane Harvey’s flood waters. Remarkably, as we described in “Harvey’s Reckoning” in 2017, some rescuers turned away from their own flooding homes to save others, like Game Warden Dustin Dockery.
“I just shook my head,” he remembers. “Then I went back to handling what I could. At that point, all you can do is go back to work. Thank goodness, my family was safe.”
Game wardens from nine states came to help Texans during Harvey. After all, Texas game wardens have always done the same. In 2005, 111 Texas game wardens responded to Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and rescued more than 5,000 victims.

Today, Texas game wardens are working on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, ensuring personal protective gear was delivered places of critical need, like rural areas. They’re assisting at testing sites and driving samples to labs.

“We’ve been called the Swiss-Army Knife of Texas law enforcement, and we take that to heart,” interim Colonel Ronald VanderRoest, who leads the TPWD Law Enforcement Division, said recently. “We are proud that Texas Game Wardens are ready for anything. We know our game wardens are successful in adapting, and we pride ourselves on community-oriented policing. That is the foundation of how we operate.”

Texas game wardens are now the stars of a reality series on Animal Planet, “Lone Star Law.” The popular show has been running for seven seasons. We love the way the show describes our game wardens.

“Whether rushing to investigate poaching cases, save flash-flood victims, disrupt illegal smuggling rings, or rescue injured wildlife, the officers are always on the go, defending both animals and citizens.”

If you enjoy stories about game wardens, state parks and Texas wildlife, 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

Songs About Texas Towns

Is anybody going to San Antone? Gotcha covered.




It’s no secret that Texas has produced a multitude of great musicians — think Buddy Holly, Willie Nelson and Bob Wills, for starters — but the Lone Star State is also the topic of many musical compositions. 

From Brownsville to Dumas and Texarkana to El Paso, the towns we live in and travel through have inspired songs through the generations. 

Here’s a big handful to get you started planning the soundtrack to your next road trip. Did we miss your favorite? Add it in the comments.



San Antonio
Charley Pride Is Anybody Going to San Antone?

Bob Wills New San Antonio Rose

Flaco Jimenez Ay Te Dejo in San Antonio

Michael Salgado Mi San Antonio

Noah Gunderson San Antonio Fading

The Beaumonts San Antonio

Lyle Lovett San Antonio Girl

Doobie Brothers China Grove


Galveston
Glen Campbell Galveston

Iron and Wine Waves of Galveston

Milton Brown My Galveston Gal



Houston
Gatlin Brothers Houston

Lightnin’ Hopkins Houston Bound

Visqueen Houston

Guy Clark Houston Kid

Bobby Bare Houston


Austin 
Blake Shelton Austin

Little Texas Amy’s Back in Austin

The Bluecasters Austin in My Sights

Johnny Cash Austin Prison


Fort Worth 
George Strait Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind?

Leadbelly Fort Worth and Dallas Blues

Jimmie Dale Gilmore Dallas

Deep Ellum Blues (Levon Helm version)


Laredo
Marty Robbins Streets of Laredo

The Highwomen Wheels of Laredo


Lubbock 
Mac Davis (Lubbock) Texas in My Rear-View Mirror

Dixie Chicks Lubbock or Leave It


Texarkana 
REM Texarkana 

Bob Wills Texarkana Baby   

All the rest 
George Strait Amarillo By Morning

Waylon and Willie Luckenbach, Texas

Marty Robbins El Paso

Bob Wills Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas

Amanda Shires Mineral Wells


T-Bone Walker Wichita Falls Blues

Leadbelly DeKalb Blues

Austin Lounge Lizards Pflugerville

Augie Meyers Velma from Selma

ZZ Top La Grange

Gary P Nunn Terlingua Sky

James McMurtry Levelland

Bob Dylan Brownsville Girl

Jewel Stephenville, TX
https://youtu.be/mWLNkQLd7H8 (not an official source)

Billy Joe Shaver Corsicana Daily Sun

Billy Joe Shaver Wacko from Waco

Hayes Carll Beaumont

Charlie Robison Indianola

George Hamilton IV Abilene 


If you enjoyed these Texas road trip songs, share this post and invite your friends to subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. For a limited time enjoy three months of digital access to 600+ articles and our expanded 2020 Summer Issue — all for only $1.99! 

Monday

Rewriting the May Issue, at Home



What do you do when the world changes overnight and your magazine content suddenly looks wrong, so very wrong for the times? 

We could shrug and just put a sticker on the May issue: “Sorry, we didn’t see this situation coming, so we’re writing about a bunch of stuff you can’t do.”

No way. That’s not the kind of attitude that started Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine in the midst of World War II. That’s not the kind of attitude that our loyal readers need or deserve.

So, we gathered up on Friday, March 13 (eek!), copied files, made hasty plans and headed to our homes. Like you, our small team had no idea what was coming next. (Still don’t, in many ways.)

By Monday morning, the technologically savvy among us began to figure out how to hold virtual meetings, share files more efficiently and change our physical proofing system to digital. Those who deal with the business of our publication began analyzing impact and how best to respond to the fallout. Our kitchen tables and home desks became our new workstations 40 hours a week.

Ok, we can do this! No problem. Well, maybe a few problems. 

Editorially, we had only a few weeks remaining before we sent the May issue to the press. That’s usually a time spent selecting photography and creating beautiful layouts, reviewing and perfecting the minor details of a product that’s already been in the planning stages for more than a year.

You may recall last summer’s premier edition of GOSH, our Great Outdoor Scavenger Hunt. We offered up a selection of fascinating sites across Texas and asked you to go find them and take a selfie. We hoped a few folks would enjoy the challenge and feel inspired to participate, but were pleasantly surprised by how many of you jumped right in.

Of course, we were excited for Year Two, and had all kinds of new fun and adventure dreamed up for you. The illustrations were gorgeous, the destinations more enticing, the plan even better than before. A big chunk of the issue was ready to roll. 

We tried to hang on to that dream for a week or so before realizing that there was little chance of “normal” summer travel, and our readers definitely needed help in other ways. (Don’t worry, we put GOSH in the safe and will unlock it for you next summer.)

One sobering morning, we assessed the damage to our editorial schedule from COVID-19 fallout. Luckily, we had Pam LeBlanc’s great Solo Camping feature in the hopper, so that was perfectly timed. Longtime contributor Sheryl Smith-Rodgers was scheduled to provide a feature on her wonderful, wild thing-filled yard later this year, and — as she has done in the past — happily agreed to stomp the gas pedal and get it done for us.

“What’s my new deadline?” “Pretty much yesterday….” “Oh. OK!”

We knew nobody would be wandering, so all our usual Wanderlist topics were out the window. Creative thinking brought us an array of coffee table books so we can all dream about future wandering. Short pieces on nature events were discarded, replaced by wildlife articles. We happily announced our new partnership with the TPWD podcast Under the Texas Sky: two new Wanderlist podcasts every month, but for now talking about roadtrip music instead of roadtrips. 

During those days of plotting and planning, we also listened to what was going on around us. Busy people’s lives screeched to a halt. Sure, there were days of shell-shocked tv binging on the sofa in yesterday’s pajamas, but folks were getting restless and their kids needed schooling of some sort. They were searching for answers in the only place available beyond house and screen: the yard (or maybe the empty wild space down the street).

They saw a cardinal outside the window and opened the door to follow. The natural world opened up with a warm, springtime-y invitation that was just too alluring to ignore. Their minds started to wander down old paths they’d once traveled in less busy times, back as far as their own childhoods. 

“Maybe there’s a nest in that tree.” 
“Wow, what are those flowers? Are they always there?” 
“Butterfly!” 
“Whoa, fireflies! Or are they lightning bugs?”
“Can I catch that?”
And always: “What in the world is that thing?”

Even in the midst of extremely hard times, nature offered us an opportunity to share. We were excited to realize that we were the ones who could provide some great answers, because these very questions form the basis of just about any story we feature in Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. Need inspiration, information and education, all packaged up in pretty photos? Hand up, it’s us!

In no time at all, we had called up several great articles from past issues, such as 50 Ways to Get Kids Outdoors and compiled a huge list of activities — games, crafts, contests, science — and included them here on the blog. Traci Anderson, our business manager, took note of all the new virtual offerings sprouting up, from wildlife cams to zoo outreach to museum tours, and posted a week of curated links by topic here on our blog.

The May issue in your hands today may not feel radically different than the one you held last year or last decade, but it’s been carefully crafted with love for all of you. We spent nights and evenings making it work because we know there are better days ahead. Let’s dream about them together, and spend some time planning them before we venture carefully back out.

If you enjoy our blog, please share this post and invite your friends to subscribe to the Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine and app. An all-access subscription gives you instant access more than 600 articles, plus 1 year of updates!