Changed in an Instant

New Hatched Monarch Butterfly; Photo by Donna Burrows, May 2013
Newly Hatched Monarch Butterfly; Photo by Donna Burrows, May 2013

“This male Monarch butterly emerged from his chrysalis this morning about 9 AM.  I caught his picture immediately after his first flight.  He is gorgeous!” – quote from Donna Burrows

Please be sure to leave plenty of host plants on your property for this beautiful creature.  One source of information to learn more about “hosting” the Monarch is www.texasbutterflyranch.com.   Thanks to Donna Burrows, ORWMA Habitat Chairperson, for the wonderful picture above.  Another good place to learn about the Monarch is www.monarchwatch.org.  Check it out and have fun!

 

Hawk Nursery at Oakridge

Red-Tailed Hawk babies are growing!  See below for an update from the Petters.  One baby moved down into the nest, but this one remained on the look-out.  Click on the picture below to enlarge it and see more color and detail on the hawk.

Growing Baby Hawks updated  May 17, 2013; Photo by L.Petter
Growing Baby Hawks updated May 17, 2013; Photo by L.Petter

 

Red-Tailed Hawks just born at Oakridge; Photo by Linda Petter, May 2013
Red-Tailed Hawks just born at Oakridge; Photo by Linda Petter, May 2013

The attached pictures were sent in to ORWMA by Larry Petter. Linda Petter was so excited to take these of new hawk babies!  The parents are the Eastern Red-tailed Hawk. This is the 3rd year in a row they have raised little ones here at Oakridge.  Both hawk parents come regularly to feed the chicks.

Red-Tailed Hawks are monogamous and are solitary nesters.  This is the most common hawk in North America.

Red-Tailed Hawks just hatched; Photo by Linda Petter, May 2013
Red-Tailed Hawks just hatched; Photo by Linda Petter, May 2013

 

New Visitor to Oakridge

This Greater Yellowlegs came fishing at our pond late this afternoon; he’s a common sandpiper.  Looks like he still has his winter plumage due to the mild temperatures we’ve had this spring.  These birds like small fish, insects and snails.  What a joy to find a new species on the Ranch!

Greater Yellowlegs; Photo by Brenda LaVergne_May2013
Greater Yellowlegs; Photo by Brenda LaVergne_May2013

 

Hidden Treasure! Update

New fawn hidden by mom; photo by Brenda LaVergne
New fawn hidden by mom; photo by Brenda LaVergne

If you’re planning on spring mowing on your property, be careful to watch out for fawns a doe may have hidden in the tall grass while she eats.  This little guy in the picture was still wet from birth when we happened on him during a hike of our place.  New life!  What a beautiful thing to behold this time of year!  And don’t forget those moms need a little extra protein during this season to help keep them healthy while nursing those little ones.

Please send your pictures and stories to ORWMA at oakridgeranchwma@gmail.com.

Young Fawn, May 8, 2013; Photo by Douglas Mason
Young Fawn, May 8, 2013; Photo by Douglas Mason

This picture of a young fawn was sent in to ORWMA by Douglas Mason.  He/she is estimated to be three to four weeks old.  Such a beautiful time of renewal here at Oakridge Ranch!

Nuisance or Necessary?

The Common Raccoon is listed as a nuisance animal by Texas Parks & Wildlife.  This mainly nocturnal animal is considered to be a carnivore, but will eat anything you offer them.  Their average weight is from 4 to 20 pounds.  They have sharp claws and teeth, are good climbers and strong swimmers and can often be aggressive and dangerous.  Raccoons adapt easily to living around humans and will often find their way into your attic or pantry.  The raccoon can be a frequent carrier of the Distemper virus, as well as Rabies.

Let us know if you have any Raccoon stories here at the Ranch.  Send your comments and pictures to us at oakridgeranchwma@gmail.com.

Common Raccoon at Deer Feeder; Photo by Gary LaVergne_2012
Common Raccoon at Deer Feeder; Photo by Gary LaVergne_2012

 

 

 

Beauty with a Bite!

Texas Bull-Nettle is often called Mala Mujer (“bad woman” in Spanish).  This perennial native wildflower is quite a beauty to behold.  But she holds a powerful bite!  The foliage is covered in tiny hairs that are actually fine needles and are filled with a sap that can cause many painful skin irritations such as rashes, burns, and infections that can last for weeks.  The plant is drought tolerant and quickly spreading.  Bull-Nettle is popular with honeybees & butterflies and many other insects.  Watch out for this wildflower and only “admire” from a distance!

Texas Bull-Nettle at Oakridge Ranch; Photo by Brenda LaVergne_2012
Texas Bull-Nettle at Oakridge Ranch; Photo by Brenda LaVergne_2012

 

Awaiting Flight Plans

Just born here at Oakridge this baby Northern Cardinal is waiting for instructions from mom & dad.  But for now, he’s resting up for his first flight!  Wish you could have seen his little heart beat moving his chest as he slept.  Cardinals make their nests about 3 -5 feel off the ground and will often reuse the same nest year after year.

See what gifts you find on your properties and share it with all of us.  Send it to ORWMA at oakridgeranchwma@gmail.com to be added to our website.

Peacefully sleeping with a sibling yet to be hatched.   Photo by Brenda LaVergne, 5-2-2013
Peacefully sleeping with a sibling yet to be hatched. Photo by Brenda LaVergne, 5-2-2013

 

 

 

Bobwhite Quail at Oakridge Ranch

Bobwhite Quail

By:  Marilyn Rutledge

“Bobwhite!”  The peaceful call of the Northern Bobwhite, commonly referred to as Bobwhite Quail, is a peaceful sound that echoes through the woods where these moderately-sized birds live.  The bobwhite is a ground dwelling bird with adults standing six to seven inches in height and weigh about six to seven ounces.  The male’s upper parts are reddish-brown, while the belly is pale and streaked.  There is a white stripe above the eye and a white patch framed in black on the throat.  The female looks like the male with the exception of the white patch on the throat being caramel-colored instead.  They travel in coveys of two or more families and once they pair with a mate, they stay with that mate until death.  Both parents will incubate a brood for about 24 days with the young leaving the nest shortly after hatching.  Both parents then lead the young birds to feed and care for them for about two weeks until their first flight.  They raise 1 to 2 broods of 12 to 16 eggs per year.

The bobwhite is a non-migratory, year-round resident found mostly in the eastern and mid-western United States from southern Ontario and Maine, west to southern Minnesota, South Dakota, and southeastern Wyoming, and south to the Gulf coast and eastern Mexico.  Their habitat includes active and fallow crop fields, pastures, grasslands, woodlands, and brushy areas.  The bobwhite’s diet consists of grass seeds such as ragweed, panic grass, Johnson grass, spurges, crotons, chittamwood, dayflowers, black locust, sweetgum, sunflowers, crabgrass, foxtail, bull grasses, beggar’s-tick, smartweed, oaks, pines, and ash.  In addition to grass seed, they consume legumes such as partridge pea and mild pea.  The bobwhite also enjoy eating cultivated grains such as soybeans, wheat, millet, corn, tick trefoil, grain sorghum, buckwheat, rye, cowpeas, prairie clovers, and peanuts.   Added to their diet is wild fruits such as mulberries, blackberries, bayberries, Muscadine, hackberry, plums, pokeberries, raspberries, strawberries, huckleberries, wax myrtle, grapes, rose hips, persimmons as well as berries of dogwood, sumac, poison ivy, and greenbrier.  Finally the bobwhite eat insects and arthropods such as grasshoppers, flies, aphids, spiders, ants, leafhoppers, mosquitoes, potato beetles, snails, and others.  They require daily easy access to water as well.

Since the bobwhite are ground dwelling birds, their nesting cover is normally native grasses or dense vegetation communities with open passable alleyways on or near the ground.  They avoid areas that encourage rodent populations, fire ants, and snakes as these are major predators of bobwhite nests.  The nest is a shallow depression lined with dry grasses located in grass clumps that range from 6 to 18 inches in height.  Once hatched, the brood-rearing cover differs from the nesting cover to enable movement of quail chicks.  As much as 70 percent of this area can be open with overhead concealment and a diversity of low-growing green foliage and abundant insects.  During the winter months, a woody cover where snow is abundant is preferred by the bobwhite.  Tangled thickets, dense grasses, shrubs, and other vegetation that conceal quail from predators are used as escape cover when located close to travel lanes, nesting, brood-rearing and loafing areas.

The bobwhite, once very popular and numerous, initially provided a subsistence food for settlers.  During the early 1900’s however, hunting and trapping of quail became popular as markets developed to sell them.  This practice, along with the reduction of food sources, nesting and protective covering has reduced the quail population by as much as 70 to 90 percent.  Although these birds are not typical backyard birds, in the appropriate habitat they will visit ground feeders for seeds or cracked corn as well as ground-level bird baths.  To encourage bobwhites to visit your area, one should avoid insecticide sprays and choose low shrubs for landscaping to make them feel secure.  For more information, visit the internet and search either Northern Bobwhite or Bobwhite Quail.

Bobwhite Quail_Rutledge_Mar2013

 

President’s Message March 2013

Your ORWMA executive committee held its meeting March 9th at the Petter home. The minutes were read and approved along with the Treasure’s report.   The new ORWMA banner was presented and approved by committee.  We had a lengthy discussion about our website with a lot of new ideas from our committee leaders. A team was formed with Jean Herring, Brenda LaVergne and Donna Burrows to review new avenues of updating or changing our website.

From Donna Burrows    I’m already spotting bluebonnets on I-10.   As winter starts to let go, more spring flowers are on their way, migration gets going in earnest and nesting begins.  Butterflies will start flying and trees and grasses will begin to green and we will see if we had a wet enough winter to keep up the momentum for a few spring months.   For now, it is definitely a waiting game.

It is sobering to look around to see effects of the hypoxylon canker which has devastated so many trees in our drought.   Until we get some real, measurable rain, the canker will continue on its way to, in the long run, bring us back to broader areas of beneficial grass lands.   We need our native grasses as much as the trees.

Of course, the trees that can be left standing are great for wildlife, as we know.    For instance, we have a great roost tree for the Pileated Woodpecker; perhaps now to house an owl or squirrels or raccoons.  Or, for that matter the large brush piles the down trees make are also beneficial.  Taking stock of all, if we must lose so many trees, it is great to see these side benefits developing.

So, come on, Spring.  Show us what you’ve got.

Upcoming events-

April 6th   Columbus Trash off Day, ORWMA sponsors county road 215 and will be picking up trash that day. Contact Glenda Lambert (gl78962@gmail.com) or Carolyn Trickett (ctricket@yahoo.com) for more information or just show up at 8:00 AM at the North gate.  ORIA will also be participating by sprucing up the North and South gate entrances. If you wish to pitch in for an hour then contact Brenda LaVergne (Brenda.lavergne@gmail.com) for the South gate or Larry Petter (larry@citywestwindows.com) for the North gate. Also that day we will be doing a spring cleaning at the Community Center. For all those that donate their time, ORWMA will provide a light lunch at 12:00 at the Community Center; contact Jean Herring (mackieherring@yahoo.com) if you wish to assist her!

KEEP AMERICA BEAUTIFUL & KEEP TEXAS BEAUTIFUL

 March 1st to May 31, 2013.

April 13th ORWMA is sponsoring a CHL class in Oakridge Ranch. This will be the classroom instruction and firing range. We will have a certified instructor by the Texas Department of Public Safety on site. Fees are estimated to be $95 depending on number of participants. We will begin at 8:00 AM at the Community Center.  We need confirmation if you wish to attend so that we may plan the day.  I recommend you bring a sack lunch for the day.  Please contact Vernon Wallace (vwallace@satyainc.com) by the April 2, 2013.

April 20th ORWMA Spring Banquet 2013   “This is the event we have been planning!”  We are having a shrimp boil!    Hot dogs will be available also!   Bring a chair!  Come hear our guest speaker Bill Mitchell, Chief Appraiser of Colorado County discussing AG or Wildlife exemptions.  Bring a dessert to share if you can!  If you are a member of ORWMA or wish to join, then please come!  The location is the Community Center and the time is 4:00 PM.  I saved the best for last———-FREE

OAKRIDGE RANCH WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION

We are excited about having our first ORWMA member social for 2013!  So mark your calendars! If you wish to volunteer your help then let me know. We can always use the help to set up tables and chairs. The ORWMA executive committee takes great pride in sending you this message. Let us know what you think, share your ideas, with us.

Larry Petter, President-ORWMA