Teresa Stoffel, creator of Winter Texan Activities Group on Facebook hosted a meeting this past Saturday with Winter Texan park activity directors, managers, and Wintertainers™. On the agenda were topics of sanitation measures; thinking outside the box for activities and Wintertainers™; what would be needed to implement new types of activities; and to develop a list of Wintertainers™ willing to fill in for those that might feel the need to cancel.
PIVOT was the big word of the meeting. Stoffel said this is a time that Wintertainers™ and activity directors need to pivot their thinking and start thinking outside of the box. Activities should still go on, and can, even though there are restrictions and precautions that need to be taken.
Read more: The show must go on
What a surprise! Say hello to the Gladys Porter Zoo’s new miracle baby…a baby gorilla! Penney, a 33-year-old female gorilla, to everyone's surprise, gave birth to a healthy baby on Thursday, August 20.
Night keepers at the Zoo were astonished to find Penney cradling a newborn in her arms as they were making their usual rounds on Thursday evening. Not only were the night keepers shocked but so was the entire Zoo staff, especially the Zoo’s medical team. This was totally unexpected.
“Years ago, when evaluating Penney for her lack of reproductive success, it was discovered that she had a tumor on her pituitary gland that, in turn, raised her prolactin levels, making it difficult for her to conceive. Thanks to a 45-day, targeted treatment, she was able to reproduce once after the tumor diagnosis was made,” said Gladys Porter Zoo Director, Dr. Patrick Burchfield.
Read more: Miracle Baby Born at Gladys Porter Zoo!
Written by Susan Himes, Susan.Himes@ag.tamu.edu
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service announced registration is open for the 2021 Birding the Border event.
The event will take place April 29 -May 2, starting with a kickoff social the evening of April 29 at Val Verde Winery.
Del Rio will host the event, which will feature birding trips to a mix of private, restricted-access and public lands in Kinney and Val Verde counties.
The cost of registration is $50 and includes seminars, which will be held April 30-May 1 at the Del Rio Civic Center and feature AgriLife Extension experts. There are also spouse-of-birder passes available to allow participants to bring a plus one to the seminars and social events. If you prefer to register by phone, call Teri Gaston at 830-278-9151 ext. 283.
Read more: Four-day birding event features photography-focused, beginner options
by Melinda Myers
As summer transitions into fall, it is time to help lawns recover from summer stress. Let the weather and the condition of your lawn help you develop a plan suited to your landscape.
Continue mowing actively growing lawns. Mow high, leaving cool season grasses like bluegrass and fescues at least 2 ½ preferably 3 ½ inches tall after cutting. Warm season grasses like bermudagrass, carpetgrass, centipedegrass and zoysia should be grown at 1 to 2 inches tall, while St. Augustine should a bit higher at 2 to 3 inches for best results. Taller grass is better able to compete with weeds, is more drought tolerant and less susceptible to insects and disease.
Read more: Fall Lawn Care Tips
One of the most extraordinary events in nature has begun—autumn bird migration. Starting now, reducing or eliminating nighttime lighting can make the journeys safer for the more than one billion birds that migrate through Texas. The Lights Out Texas project even sends an alert for nights that will have the heaviest bird migration traffic and when cutting the lights will do the most good.
Lights Out Texas asks that homeowners, businesses, and managers of tall buildings eliminate or reduce lighting between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. during the September 5 through October 29 migration window.
Read more: Join "Lights Out Texas" Now To Protect Migrating Birds
Check out what’s making a splash at the Gladys Porter Zoo these days . . . North American river otters! Tallulah and Imnaha will be making their public debut in their brand new exhibit on August 28th. Construction of their new habitat is expected to be completed this week and the Zoo’s staff can’t wait to see how much they love their new hangout.
Three year-olds Imnaha and Tallulah are sisters from the same litter. They were born at the Oakland Zoo in California. Just like humans, they have their own unique personalities – one is shy and one is a bit of a troublemaker. But together, they manage to get into all kinds of fun and mischief.
North American river otters are semi-aquatic mammals that spend most of their time in the water. They have thick, protective fur to help them keep warm while swimming in cold waters. They have short legs, webbed feet, and long, streamlined bodies for fast swimming. A powerful tail acts as a rudder and facilitates fast, agile turns.
Read more: Otters Will Be Making a Splash at the Gladys Porter Zoo
Colleen Curran Hook, Executive Director, Quinta Mazatlán
We’ve all heard of the mesquite tree in Texas –either sitting around a mesquite fire cooking fajitas or enjoying the shade of the beautiful tree. It has been dubbed the “Tree of Life” because of its ability to offer life-giving sustenance in harsh environments. The tree has an amazing history and provides native people, past and present, with the Big Five; food, fuel, fertilizer, furniture, and fence posts. Literally, every part of the tree is useful.
Read more: The Magic of the Mesquite
By John Brush, Urban Ecologist, Quinta Mazatlán in McAllen
We all feel it; the sun peering intently, directly down on us, the oven-like heat rising from streets and sidewalks, the instantaneous beads of sweat appearing as we take two steps outdoors. We are in the hottest months of the summer, and it changes us. We sweat more, spend more time indoors, and crank up the air conditioning – all in the effort of keeping our bodies from overheating, and, let us be honest, for general comfort. Birds, excepting grocery store sparrows, do not have access to air conditioning, which raises the question: how do birds beat the intense summer heat?
Read more: How Birds Beat the Heat
Palm Valley Animal Society (PVAS) is launching a pet food drive-thru to assist families struggling to feed their pets. The first drive-thru will be held on Saturday, August 15, starting at 10 a.m. at the PVAS Laurie P. Andrews Center.
“The RGV community is resilient and strong,” said Donna Casamento, Executive Director of PVAS. “First with the effects of COVID-19, and then with the destruction of Hurricane Hanna - these are hard times but the community has been coming together and we want to help as much as possible.”
The pantry’s drive-thru format requires participants to arrive in a vehicle, where they should remain while PVAS staff requests, from a six-foot distance, information on the household pets then loads the pet food into the trunk or hatchback. Quantities are limited and food will be available for cats and dogs while supplies last. PVAS requests that those interested drive safely and line up on Roegiers Road by the IDEA Edinburg school.
Read more: Pet Food Drive-Thru Launches at Palm Valley Animal Society
We all know Winter Texans contribute a great deal to the Rio Grande Valley during their winters with us. They often donate to local charities, help schools with school supplies, donate time to shelters and animal rescues, gather food during the holidays for people here and in Mexico, and they make quilts and other items for those in need.
This year has brought on a whole new need Winter Texans at Alamo Rec-Veh Park have been able to fill. A group of ladies that primarily made quilts before are now making masks.
In February and March when COVID-19 was still new and starting to shut things down, a group of women decided to shift gears. They started with a pattern and went from there. One member of the group has a relative that works in the nursing field and expressed the need for masks for patients and visitors. They originally sent her nearly 100 masks and continue to send more when the need arises. The group has now donated over of 1,000 handmade masks.
Read more: Winter Texans continue to serve community