Tag Archive for: loss of habitat

Deep in The Heart: A Texas Wildlife Story

I often post about the loss of forests and wetlands to development and how that affects flooding. But the loss also affects wildlife. A new movie, Deep in the Heart: A Texas Wildlife Story, follows our ever-changing relationship with the natural world. It showcases our ability to destroy, conserve, and recover wildlife and habitat. The producers tell the story through the eyes of wildlife.

First Blue-Chip Wildlife Documentary About Texas

This gorgeous documentary about Texas wildlife opens in theaters on June 3, 2022.

MovieInsider.com calls Deep in The Heart, “The first blue-chip wildlife documentary ever produced about Texas.” And the trailer certainly lives up to that promise.

Image from DeepInTheHeartWildlife.com

The producers say, “Deep in the Heart is a visually stunning celebration of what makes Texas unique. Its diverse landscapes and remarkable wildlife behavior cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

“Narrated by Matthew McConaughey and featuring state-of-the-art cinematography, this family-friendly film journeys from the highest peaks in West Texas, through our aquifers, rivers, and bays, and deep into the Gulf of Mexico. 

Deep in the Heart aims to conserve our remaining wild places, to show the connectivity of water and wildlife, and to recognize Texas’ conservation importance on a continental scale.”

Distinguished Producers and Sponsors

Deep in the Heart was written and directed by Ben Masters; and produced by Katy Baldock and Jay Kleberg.

A consortium of foundations made the film possible. The primary sponsor was Texan by Nature, founded in 2011 by former First Lady Laura Bush. Texan by Nature (TxN) unites landowners, business, conservation, and civic leaders who believe Texas’ prosperity depends on conservation of natural resources. Learn more at www.texanbynature.org.

Where to See The Film

The film is in limited distribution at only seven Houston theaters. The closest to the Lake Houston Area: the Regal Benders Landing on the Grand Parkway between I-45 and I-69. Check here for show times.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/28/2022 with thanks to Pamela Davidson for the heads up on this movie

1733 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Contractor Kills, Maims 138 Egrets, Herons While Clearing Land

Multiple Houston-based news outlets reported a story recently about a contractor that killed or maimed 138 egrets and herons protected under the Migratory Species Act. The birds were nesting on a site being cleared by the contractor.

It’s not clear from news coverage whether the contractor was working for a homebuilder or homeowner. While I have done dozens of stories over the years about the environmental impacts of land clearing, i.e., loss of wetlands and wildlife habitat, I can’t remember any this callous.

Summaries of Local News Coverage

KPRC Channel 2

Channel 2 reported that “An investigation has been launched after dozens of migratory birds were discovered injured or dead in an area being used as a breeding ground by the protected species.”

The incident occurred last Friday in the 19700 block of Cherrywood Bend Lane in the Town Lake neighborhood in Cypress. A tree trimming company cut down trees where the birds had built nests. The surviving birds suffered broken wings, mangled legs, and internal injuries.

Texas Parks and Wildlife said the property owner and tree trimming company will be held accountable. “Their fines could add up thousands of dollars, multiple Class C violations, plus the civil restitution,” said Texas Game Warden Jaime Hill.

Egrets and herons are migratory birds protected by state law, in addition to being federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The MBTA protects 1,000 species. Under the MBTA, it is illegal to kill, injure, or capture protected birds.

Houston Chronicle

Houston Chronicle reported that 67 birds were discovered dead and another 71 were rescued by the SPCA’s Wildlife Center of Texas. The story said the non-profit had to euthanize 17 of the injured birds due to the extent their injuries.

A game warden cited the contractor and property owner for violating a statute which protects these non-game birds from being injured or killed, and their nests disturbed or destroyed.

“The issue here is the nests,” said Hill, the game warden. “Before nesting season begins residents can harass the birds so they don’t return.” They can use noise-making devices, fake owls, balloons with eyes on them and even pyrotechnics to try to ward them off, the warden added. “But any harassment must end when the first egg is laid,” she added.

“The birds might be a nuisance,” she said, “but at the end of the day when it comes to their nests and their young, they are protected.”

TPWD conferred with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and agreed to handle the incident at the state level.

KHOU Channel 11

KHOU 11 reported that “Several of the blue herons and great egrets were found alive inside trash bags that also contained dozens of dead birds.”

The Houston SPCA will care for the surviving birds until they can be released back to the wild.

TPWD’s investigation is ongoing.

Personal Commentary

Few waterbirds are more beautiful or graceful than herons and egrets. I have photographed them in the wild for years. My favorite shot is this one, taken years ago, not at the site in question.

I took it moments after the chick hatched out of its egg, as both parents looked on proudly.

Great Egrets and hatchling. I call this photo Proud Parents. © Bob Rehak 2022.

The chicks look gawky and gangly in their nests. As they mature and grow feathers, they walk out on branches and flap their wings to gain strength. Then one day, they release their grip on the branches and take wing to repeat the cycle of life as young adults.

It isn’t until you follow these birds from egg to air, that you can appreciate them as individuals. At moments like the one in the photo above, I see the same emotion that parents of every species feel. Love. Pride. And protectiveness.

But sadly, the egrets are no match for chain saws.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/17/22

1722 Days after Hurricane Harvey