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Pairs of whooping cranes dance in courtship, repeatedly jumping into the air while flapping their wings, bills pointed upward and giving bugling calls. PHOTO BY BRIAN SMALL.

Exploring Nature: Whooping cranes

Jerry Hall- Daily Record Columnist

The whooping crane came perilously close to going extinct in 1941, when there were only 15 of the birds left. Fortunately, things have improved since then and today some 350 birds are found in the wild.

The birds will remain endangered until there are about 1,000 individual birds or at least 250 reproductive pairs, so there remains much room for improvement.

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the lower Texas coast is home to the whooping crane. Founded in 1937, this refuge closely monitors the well being of Texas whoopers.

The screech-owl has no issues with making its nest in busy areas, such as city parks and suburban neighborhoods. PHOTO COURTESY OF ROLF NUSSBAUMER.

Exploring Nature: Screech-owls

Jerry Hall- Columnist

The most common owl in our area is the Eastern screech-owl.

It is a bird that many people try to attract with houses. Generally, to be successful, these houses should be about 15 feet high and in a wooded neighborhood. Don and Nan Perkins of Wimberley and Cara Wernli and Jane Little of Woodcreek have all had success with owl houses.

Due to over-harvesting of eggs and decreased breeding, the Atlantic Puffin’s numbers were dwindling in the early 19th century. in the 70s, projects to protect their species were implemented. PHOTO COURTESY OF KEVIN VANDE VUSSE.

Exploring Nature: Alaskan wildlife

Jerry Hall- Columnist

If your candidate was not the one elected president, perhaps you are contemplating moving to Canada. Let me suggest you go a tad farther and try Alaska instead. In addition to staying in the U.S., you’ll be able to see some interesting birds.

Like puffins. Alaska has both tufted and horned puffins in the thousands, located on the ChiswellIslands. You’ll also see numerous common and thick-billed murres, along with pelagic and red-faced cormorants.

Exploring Nature with Jerry Hall

Jerry Hall- Columnist

There are seven species of grebes in North America and all can be seen in Texas. By far the most common in our area is the pied-billed grebe.

This bird breeds in fresh water but also moves into coastal bays during the winter. It has one very mysterious habit – it likes to eat its own feathers. Balls of feathers have been found in its stomach and even small grebe chicks consume feathers taken from their parents.

San Marcos Record

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San Marcos, Tx 78666
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