Skip to main content

Birds nest on Cattail Island for the first time!

The Texas colonial waterbird counts are underway and Houston Audubon staff are out conducting this important monitoring work. A fantastic surprise in the coast-wide monitoring effort is the first-time use of an island built for just that purpose in Smith Oaks Bird Sanctuary. This now three-year-old island was part of a nesting expansion project completed with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Ducks Unlimited to help recover species affected by the Gulf Oil Spill. After construction, it was planted with native vegetation and nesting condominiums were built and installed to entice pioneering herons, egrets, and spoonbills. 

We watched and waited the first two years as the willow and cattails filled in the bare island. It was the Tricolored Herons that finally put nesting material to cattail stalk to get the party started. Five species nested on the Cattail Island in Smith Pond for the first time! Roseate Spoonbill, Snowy Egret, Tricolored Heron, Little Blue Heron, and Cattle Egret are making themselves at home at this primo nesting site. For those interested in seeing this new nesting site, it is the next pond over from the existing rookery in High Island and can be seen at the western end of the Kathrine G. McGovern Canopy Walkway in High Island, Texas.  

By Dr. Richard Gibbons, Conservation Director, Houston Audubon

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Pine Siskins and Salmonellosis - How to Identify and Prevent the Spread

Backyards across the United States have had an unusually high number of small, heavily striped finches, known as Pine Siskins, making a recent appearance. This year’s irruption of Pine Siskins has been one of the largest in recorded history! An irruption typically occurs during periods of food shortage in a species’ home range, causing them to spread out southward in search of resources. Pine Siskins, whose range is typically limited to the boreal forests of Canada and the northernmost U.S. states, faced an extreme shortage of conifer seeds, resulting in their takeover of bird feeders in a yard near you! Learn more about the irruption. Unfortunately, these birds are facing yet another threat across their irruption range. Salmonellosis outbreaks in Pine Siskins have been documented heavily in the Pacific Northwest, resulting in mass die-offs of this species and others that use feeders alongside them. This disease has now, unfortunately, made its way to Texas.  Salmonellosis is caused by

From Avian Absence to Bountiful Bird Haven: How One Yard Finally Got It Right

On Christmas Day 2018, my 7 year-old daughter joyfully opened a gift we had both long-awaited, that of a DIY birdhouse kit. I had envisioned a project we could complete together, one that would develop her budding interest in bird watching and give us something to do during the cold winter days ahead. Indeed, after applying a haphazard coat of brightly-hued paints - as only a first-grader can do - twisting in the tiny screws on every corner of the aviary abode, we hung 3 bird houses from our live oaks in the front yard. With noses pressed against the living room window, we eagerly anticipated a flurry of feathers and happy chirps. Yet, surprisingly, no birds arrived. A week went by, then a month, soon migrating flocks returned north and not one bird took an interest in the houses. Not a parent to shrug off a child’s genuine interest or attempt, I began wondering what could have gone wrong. I attempted to solve the problem with a trip to our local retail chain hardware garden c

Creating a Pocket Prairie in an Urban Backyard

In September of 2017, my girlfriend Amanda and I, along with our dog Scout, moved out of our apartment and into a house in Houston’s Sunset Heights. One of the selling points of this house was that it had a small backyard the three of us could enjoy together. It was a simple space comprised of zoysia grass, Japanese yew, and bamboo. In June of 2018, Scout was sniffing around our backyard and decided to eat a couple of Japanese yew berries that had fallen on the ground. This led to her getting sick and spending the next two nights recovering at a veterinary clinic. This is the event that made me start to question everything growing in our backyard. Why did we have grass, shrubs, and bamboo from Asia? Why had we never seen a butterfly in our yard? We decided we needed to make some changes. To begin my research, I read The Houston Atlas of Biodiversity by Houston Wilderness, Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy, and Native Texas Plants by Sally Wasowski and Andy Wasowsk