Thursday, September 26, 2013

Native Plant - Late Boneset

An attractive flowering plant is growing in an unlikely spot at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge.  It came up as a volunteer is a small untended bed outside the FOH Center, which was at one time filled with rock and also more recently, a variety of weeds.  The plant is about 2-1/2 feet tall and has been in bloom since around the first of September, after bearing tight white buds for several weeks.  The photo shown was sent to Texas Master Naturalist Jim Varnum, who replied, “It is Boneset (Late boneset, White boneset).  Scientific name is Eupatorium serotinum.  Right now it's one of the most prolific bloomers just about everywhere,  Look at the flowers with a magnifier... they are cool.  Related: blue mistflower or blue ageratum is a common fall nectar plant for migrating Monarch butterflies.” (Other names found include Late-flowering thoroughwort and Late-flowering boneset.)

On NPIN we found several relatives of this perennial shrub in the Aster family, Ageratina wrightii, White mistflower, Wright's snakeroot, White boneset, White ageratum; Ageratina havanensis, Havana snakeroot, Mistflower, Shrubby boneset, White mistflower, White shrub mistflower, and Eupatorium perfoliatum, Common Boneset.

The bloom season is September - November and the plant is attractive to not only butterflies, but also birds and bees.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Knock, Knock, Who's There? Part II

Continuing the Knock Knock, Who’s There series, today we look at the Red-headed Woodpecker.   Of the eight species of woodpeckers on the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge Bird Check List, the Red-bellied and the Downy, covered in a previous post, are listed as likely to be seen, in suitable habitats, all year around at the Refuge.

The preferred habitat for the Red-headed Woodpecker is deciduous woods and areas of dead trees, with cavities for nesting.  They are found in the Northern and Eastern quadrants of Texas, across the lower Mid-west and the South, to the Atlantic coast, and their breeding grounds cover the upper Mid-west.    At the Refuge, they are often observed at Dead Woman Pond, where they were reported this week, as well as Big Mineral Picnic area.

Both the male and female work at excavating a nesting space; the clutch size is 3 – 10 eggs, and they may have a second brood.

A ”Cool Fact” from All About Birds about Red-headed Woodpeckers, who are about the same size as the Hairy Woodpecker, 7.5” – 9”,  is:
The Red-headed Woodpecker is one of only four North American woodpeckers known to store food, and it is the only one known to cover the stored food with wood or bark. It hides insects and seeds in cracks in wood, under bark, in fence posts, and under roof shingles. Grasshoppers are regularly stored alive, but wedged into crevices so tightly that they cannot escape.

Note that the diet of the Red-headed Woodpecker, unlike that of other woodpeckers, includes insects,  which they can catch in the air.  They will visit backyard feeders for seed, nuts, suet and fruit.

Photos for this post taken at Hagerman NWR by Dick Malnory

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Second Saturday

This Saturday, September 14,  Rick Lynn, Grayson College geology instructor, will speak  at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, on Texoma Geology.  Millions of years ago the Texoma area was covered by salt water; here's an opportunity  learn how and why things have changed since pre-historic times to create present day Texoma.  This will the be the first time a geology program has been offered at Second Saturday since December, 2007. The meeting will begin at 10 am in the Visitor Center; Second Saturday programs are free and open to the public.

Also on September 14, the FOH Nature Photography Club will meet, at 12:30 pm in the FOH Center at the Refuge.  The  program will be presented by John S. Mead, Blue Lion Photography.  John  will be sharing experiences and images from his recent photo safari in South Africa.  The club meets bimonthly and is open to anyone interested in nature photography.  Visitors are welcomed, free of charge, there are nominal dues for membership.

For those who like to plan ahead, instead of Second Saturday in October, come on out to the Refuge for SUPER Saturday on October 12.  

Hagerman NWR is located at 6465 Refuge Road, Sherman, Texas, 75092, on the Big Mineral Arm of Lake Texoma.  For more information see or call the Refuge, 903 786 2826.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

History of a Banded Blue Goose

Banded Blue Goose, by Laurie Lawler (click image to view in full)
In the autumn of 2012, Laurie Lawler, who is a photographer and frequent visitor to Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, spotted and photographed a banded Blue Goose at the Refuge.   Laurie says, “Jack Chiles advised me how to report the band. I was excited when I got this certificate [last week] by email (shown below). I thought it was so cool and was surprised to see the goose's age.”

Click image to view in full.
The certificate not only shows the age of the bird and date of the banding and the sighting, but the locations where the banding  was done and where the band was later found, leaving it up to the imagination to envision the years of semi-annual migration flights along the Central flyway between both locations.

According to the USGS Bird Banding Laboratory bird banding has a long history. “ The first record of a metal band attached to a bird's leg was about 1595 when one of Henry IV's banded Peregrine Falcons was lost in pursuit of a bustard in France. It showed up 24 hours later in Malta, about 1350 miles away, averaging 56 miles an hour!”  Through a banding in about 1669, a Grey Heron was found later to have lived at least 60 years.  Another Grey Heron was found to have traveled more than 1200 miles, from Turkey to Germany.

John James Audubon first reported banding and retrieval  in America in 1803.  In 1899 a bird banding system was developed in Denmark that is the model for modern banding programs.  In 1920 the Bureau of Biological Survey and the Canadian Wildlife Service took over previous efforts  in the U.S. and Canada and the North American banding program has been a joint effort to oversee the activities of dedicated banders all over the world ever since.

Laurie reported the band seen on the Blue Goose on this website:

Anyone reporting will be asked to answer multiple choice questions regarding their role (individual, bander, wildlife official), type band, etc., as well as species, if known and other details.  Those reporting will receive a certificate of appreciation like Laurie’s.  Reporting bands adds to the ability of scientists to study bird migration, populations, longevity and more.