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Mr. DeMille, parks are ready for their … to stay 6 feet apart

We are ready for you here in the Valley. Our parks are ready. And our Wintertainers™ are ready to entertain.

The general feeling is we will see a great season this year. I don’t want to say, ‘despite the circumstances,’ but, we have to be upfront here and say that we know what the situation is, and we know you have a decision to make.

Activity Directors, Wintertainers™, and Stakeholders have had two meetings that Teresa Stoffel, creator of Winter Texan Times Activities Group on Facebook, has organized. In both meetings, everyone has had a positive attitude that we will see smiling faces soon – or we will assume you are smiling behind your mask.

Read more: Mr. DeMille, parks are ready for their … to stay 6 feet apart

Beautiful weather for a trip to SPI

turtle trail spi img 3724South Padre Island is beautiful this time of year – and the temperatures just keep getting nicer as we get closer to December. I had the chance to take a short trip to the island recently and I did not want to leave. The temperatures were in the 80s and there was a pretty good breeze the day I went. I, unfortunately, had to get back to the office, and home, to tend to other things and could not stay as long as I wanted to.

This short trip was to see a perfect outdoor activity for this type of weather – the Sea Turtle Trail. The Winter Texan Times had received a news release from SPI’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau about a recent installment to the trail and decided it was something we needed to go out and see for ourselves. This is a trail that you can walk or cycle if you have the time. The locations are spread out on the island – furthest point south is Beach Park at Isla Blanca, and northern point is SPI Convention Center. They are nearly five miles apart from each other. I was able to visit all but two turtles while there and was quite impressed with the beauty of them.

So, what are these turtles I speak of?

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Welcome back

By Carina A. Brunson

Hello and welcome back to south Texas! We are so happy to see your smiling … eyes. We are so excited about what this year will bring, even if it will be a bit different. The Rio Grande Valley is such a great place to be. Great weather, great people, and great friends. I am with y’all, I would much rather be in Texas than shoveling snow up north.

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Humane Society of Harlingen in need of adoptive or foster parents

The Humane Society of Harlingen is reaching capacity and is in need of urgent adoptive or foster parents to make space for emergency intakes. Lifesaving is only made possible through collaborative efforts with the community.

Here is how you can help:

1. Adopt or Foster. All adoption fees for all animals will be completely waived and completed on a donation basis until further notice. There is never a fee to foster and, for a limited time, all animals are available for foster! We will even give you everything you need to get started with your new furry friend.

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Miracle Baby Born at Gladys Porter Zoo!

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.

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Four-day birding event features photography-focused, beginner options

good chickadee e1598912445738Written 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.

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Fall Lawn Care Tips

Healthy lawn image MelindaMyersLLCby 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.

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Otters Will Be Making a Splash at the Gladys Porter Zoo

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.

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The Magic of the Mesquite

20200714 Honey Mesquite 2Colleen 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.

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How Birds Beat the Heat

By John Brush, Urban Ecologist, Quinta Mazatlán in McAllen

20200708 Verdin red berriesWe 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?

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Pet Food Drive-Thru Launches at Palm Valley Animal Society

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.

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Wag-A-Thon Kicks off to Raise the Roof for PVAS

Edinburg, TX – Hurricane Hanna ripped through Palm Valley Animal Society’s (PVAS) two centers, damaging roofs, fences, trees, and dog kennels. To raise funds for repairs, PVAS is kicking off a Wag-A-Thon. Runners, walkers, bikers, and swimmers can pledge miles and laps for support. PVAS has a goal to raise at least $30,000 for repairs.

“Thankfully, no animals or staff were hurt. But our roof at Trenton needs repairs - that building houses dogs and cats, and that’s where we do adoptions,” said Adam Ricci, Director of Operations.

The community stepped up to help foster, and for the first time ever, PVAS' team was able to get all pets into the main buildings at Trenton and Andrews. While both the Laurie P. Andrews Center and Trenton Center suffered, most damages hit the older Trenton Center.

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Learn to Bird workshop set Oct. 23-25 in Del Rio

owlWritten by Susan Himes, TAMU

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will be holding a multi-day workshop for beginning birders Oct. 23-25 in Del Rio. Learn to Bird will feature focused birding trips lead by professional guide Bryan Calk and educational presentations by AgriLife Extension faculty. Space is limited to 11 participants.

Maureen Frank, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist in Uvalde, and Emily Grant, AgriLife Extension agent for Val Verde County, created Learn to Bird in response to feedback from the AgriLife Extension Virtual Birding Seminar.

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When do you need to water your yard?

wateringWritten by Kay Ledbetter, TAMU

Heading into the heat of the summer, homeowners begin asking, “how much do I need to water my yard.” Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s WaterMyYard program has a new, free mobile app just for that purpose. (It might not be available in your area yet, so check the app periodically)

When does the grass need watered? There’s an app for that. 

“This app has several enhancements compared to the WaterMyYard website-based program we’ve offered the past few years which should improve user experience and the accuracy of water recommendations, including push notifications directly to the mobile device as well as texts and emails,” said Guy Fipps, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension irrigation engineer, College Station.

Read more: When do you need to water your yard?