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Biodiversity Blog

 

Meet Stengl-Wyer Scholar: Shana Caro

CanoShana holding a superb starling (Lamprotornis superbus) As part of the new Stengl-Wyer Endowment, the Stengl Wyer Postdoctoral Scholars Program provides up to three years of independent support for talented postdoctoral researchers in the broad area of the diversity of life and/or organisms in their natural environments. Shana Caro is one o...

Fall Migration of Birds, Texas and Beyond

Prairie warbler Setophaga discolor paludicola male J Prairie Warbler (Photo: Charles J. Sharp -CC BY-SA 4.0) Signs of autumn are all around. The weather is cooling and the days are getting shorter. It’s also a time of migration for some birds. Of Texas’ 615 documented species of birds, about half will migrate. Through the course of the season, millions of birds will pass through the Lone Sta...

BACKYARD BIODIVERSITY: White-Winged Dove

1571px White wnged Dove Zenaida asiatica RWD   Photo: Dick Daniels (http://carolinabirds.org/) If you step outside, you can probably hear this bird in a nearby tree, cooing softly. Or you might see it foraging on the ground, its head bobbing back and forth on its plump beige body. This is the white-winged dove (Zenaida asiatica). Its name tells you how to tell it apart from ot...

CAMPUS BIODIVERSITY: Northern Mockingbirds

bird m   Photo: Kathryn Gatliff The Northern Mockingbird is probably one of the easiest birds to identify, if not by their bold maneuvers to protect their territory, then certainly by their characteristic song. In fact, their scientific name Mimus polyglottos is based entirely on their vocal natures: “mimus” is Latin for mimic and “polyglo...

CAMPUS BIODIVERSITY: Pigeons

19786421550 79acb30c66 b   Photo by Jaime Silva (via Flickr) Pigeons are so ubiquitous, searching our sidewalks and streets for anything edible, perched overhead on powerlines and building ledges, we don’t really give them much thought. In fact, pigeons get a pretty bad rap sometimes, are written off as nothing more than “rats with wings.” However, they are...

CAMPUS BIODIVERSITY: Grackles Here, Grackles There, Grackles Everywhere!

Great tailed Grackle web   Great-tailed grackle, male. (Photo: Becky Matsubara) If you pair the words “Austin” and “bird,” you get “grackle.” But these rambunctious omnipresent birds have an expanding breeding range, and have been around long before Texas was even a state. Austin, for better or for worse, cannot really claim them as our own. Grackle is...

Fall for Falcons

TowerGirlPeregrine Falcons are one of the most widely-distributed species in the world, found on every continent with the exception of Antarctica. With autumn in swing, some Peregrine Falcons are migrating to their wintering areas. There are three subspecies of Peregrine Falcons within North America. Found in the Arctic tundra is Falco peregrinus tundrius. ...

Tower Girl Gets Her Portrait Done

falcon   "Tower Girl: Peregrine Falcon, 2018" watercolor on paper, 42" x 38" UT’s resident Peregrine Falcon, Tower Girl, has many fans and admirers. Amongst them are painter and writer, Carol Dawson, who has painted a large watercolor piece featuring the falcon. This piece is now on display at the Wally Workman Gallery as part of Dawson’s ...

CAMPUS BIODIVERSITY: Blue Jays

Bluejay Cyanocitta cristata 1547 Relic38   Photo: Darren Swim Blue Jays (Cyanocitta cristata) on campus are hard to miss. With their striking colors and shrill calls, in addition to their assertive behavior, they are one of the more attention-getting birds at UT. The genus name Cyanocitta derives from the Greek words 'kyaneos,' 'kitta,' and 'kissa'. ‘Kyaneos’ mean blue, a...

How Birds like Tower Girl Keep Cool in the Hot Summers

falcon gutteral fluttering   Tower Girl cools down using "gular fluttering."   As Central Texas moves deeper into the summer months, we Austinites like to find relief from the oppressive heat by wearing shorts and t-shirts, consuming cool drinks, and ducking inside air-conditioned spaces. If you have been watching our resident Peregrine falcon, Tower Gir...