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March 11, 2010
Factsheet: 2010 State of the Birds in Texas
- Texas has recorded 636 total bird species, more than any state except California. Of these, 10 are on state and federal endangered species lists, and another 20 are listed as threatened. In the Texas Wildlife Action Plan, 39 birds are high priority species of greatest conservation need, birds that are already or could become threatened or endangered and need our help.
- All these birds at risk represent habitats at risk. Protecting and restoring native habitat and controlling invasive species that disrupt native habitat are thus critical strategies.
- For example, a key focus in Texas is restoring native grasslands. This benefits popular game birds like bobwhite quail and rare birds like the lesser prairie chicken. Prairie habitat sustains both, and threats to that habitat are causing both to decline.
- Texas is a private land state, where 95 percent of the habitat is privately owned. Most habitat protection and restoration is done in collaboration with private landowners.
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Joint Ventures, US Fish and Wildlife Service Partners Program and several non-governmental organizations work with private landowners across the landscape to manage and restore grassland, wetland, estuary and coastal habitats that benefit birds of concern.
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and its partners promote bird conservation under the Texas Wildlife Action Plan and funds public and private land restoration and protection projects with the State Wildlife Grants, Landowner Incentive Program, Farm Bill programs, Upland Game Bird Stamp sales revenue, and Horned Lizard License Plate funds.
- Climate change is an emerging threat that affects birds and the habitats on which they depend by changing temperatures and rainfall which affects growing seasons, insect availability, migration patterns and timing, invasive species growth and range, and pests and diseases. Climate change can intensify existing threats.
- More than 70 species of South Texas birds such as least grebe, great kiskadee, green jay and buff-bellied hummingbird have expanded their ranges north and east. Some scientists believe this is due to climate change although expansions are also due to habitat change from fire suppression, native vegetation losses, and invasive brush encroachment. Pests and diseases are increasing in range because warmer winters reduce die-off, and parasite development rates and infectivity increase with temperature. Woody shrubs invading prairie grasslands are favored by increases in concentrations of CO2, changes in soil moisture cycles, fire suppression, and soil disturbances.
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is revising the Texas Wildlife Action Plan this year with our conservation partners to include a new chapter to identify next steps in climate change adaptation strategies. TPWD plans to continue emphasis on private land stewardship, undertake or expand research and monitoring to understand climate change impacts, and explore partnerships and strategies to mitigate impacts.
- Protecting and restoring native habitat and controlling invasive species are fundamental conservation actions that will also help mitigate climate change impacts, as native bird species are better able to withstand multiple pressures if they have healthy native habitat.
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