The Bird Man of East Texas – Texas Parks & Wildlife [Official]
Articles Blog

The Bird Man of East Texas – Texas Parks & Wildlife [Official]

January 8, 2020

100 miles one way for me to drive to the studio,
I can’t do it remotely. Easy Peasy. – RADIO ANNOUNCER: You are
listening to Red River Radio. Stay tuned, Bird Calls is
coming up in just a few minutes right here on your
public radio station. – I’ve never heard a show
on the radio that people can call in and ask
questions about birds. – RADIO ANNOUNCER: Cliff is
currently the statewide non-game ornithologist for the Texas
Parks and Wildlife Department. A position he’s held since 1997. And he has been an avid bird
watcher for more than 30 years. He’s also the first
author of the book,Hummingbirds of Texas.– NARRATOR: Every other month,
Cliff Shackelford takes
his love of birds across state
lines to reach 10,000 listeners.
– BILL: Cliff, thanks for
joining us again for Bird Calls. – Hey Bill, happy
to be here.– NARRATOR: And he starts
with a bird to spotlight.
– This month is the Blue Jay. So we’re going to talk about
the Blue Jay for a minute. In the Red River Radio listening
area we have several species of song birds that are
predominantly blue including the Eastern Bluebird,
the Blue Grosbeak and the Indigo Bunting but the Blue Jay is the
only one here with a crest. Blue Jays are so popular,
they even have a major league baseball team named after them. How about that? [cheering] – As soon as Cliff goes
on the air, the phone calls start coming in. [ring] And they don’t stop
until the show ends. – BILL: Gail from Marshall,
you’re on line with Cliff, what’s your question? – GAIL: I’m thinking that I’m
seeing an Indigo Bunting. [bird sings] – It’s the general public
calling. They’re not bird watchers
per se, they’re just regular folks that see
interesting things and they’re curious about
what these birds are they’re seeing or
behaviors. Let’s listen to some
that are mobbing. [screech calls] – BILL: You can see how that
pitch has gone up and almost the intensity
as well. – CLIFF: These are birds
that are mobbing a predator. And they’ll do this it’s like
a neighborhood watch program. – BILL: Give us a call
right now…– NARRATOR: Bird Calls airs
live in most of East Texas
and Louisiana and parts of
Mississippi and Arkansas.
The show took flight after
Cliff volunteered to help
with annual fund drive.– He does this for us
voluntarily and I know it’s a
lot of work for him. It’s travel back and forth. – I love it! It’s a one-hour show and it
goes by like a [snap] blink of an eye. It’s so fast and furious and
when one hour’s done, I’m like, “Oh, it feels
like we just started, I want to keep going!” On the Eurasian Collard Dove we
talked about a minute ago, he really sounds like an owl. A lot of the doves do but this
one really does and it’s just an incessant,
‘Whoo, whoo, whoo. ‘Whoo, whoo, whoo. Whoo, whoo, whoo.’ [dove call] And if you hear that outside
in the day and you think, “What is that owl? It won’t stop!” It’s just this big, giant,
Eurasian Collard Dove. – He’s a gem of a guy. He’s as… – CLIFF: Here we go! – BILL: …friendly and
approachable in person as he sounds like he is
over the air. – CLIFF: Oh my God,
look at that!– NARRATOR: Cliff loves birds.– Look at that! Ohh! – He does love birds, yea! – I’ve loved birds since
I was a kid. About nine years old. [music] My parents thought it was a
phase like picking up frogs bringing them home,
kids outgrow that. But I never outgrew
looking at birds. [painted bunting sings] I just love them. I think there’s so much
interesting stuff going on with birds. Oh look at that flying in! Boom! A lot of people that like
watching reality TV, ought to turn off the TV
and go outside. Looks like he’s going
to fall over at times. Kinda fun to watch. Because birds, there’s a
reality there that’s so pure, so real and so interesting and
that’s really why I like birds. [gull call] – BILL: You are listening to
Bird Calls from Red River Radio with our resident ornithologist,
Cliff Shackelford. He is with the Texas Parks
and Wildlife Department and he’s been there
for 30 years. You can give us a call…. – CLIFF: My co-producer is
Bill Beckett. Yea, let me correct something
you said, I’ve been with the department for 30 years. – Sorry, you’ve been an
avid birdwatcher for 30 years. [laugh] – Yea, I wish I was
30 years cuz I could turn in my papers. Here are my papers, I’m done,
but no I’m 19 years with the department,
going strong. So he’s working this
big mother board. And I just sit there
and answer questions. – And we have lines
open right now. We are going to go to
Claire from Shreveport. Claire, your on line with
Cliff, what’s your question? – CLAIRE: Hi Cliff,
such a big fan. So glad to talk to you. – CLIFF: Hey, great
Claire, what’s up? He’s playing sounds that
we’ve pre-recorded that we play on the air. Let’s listen for a minute. This is a begging
Northern Mockingbird and you’ll notice these
in the springtime. They’re speckle-breasted so mom
and dad have no speckles at all on the chest but a young bird
fresh out of the nest has spots on the chest but otherwise
he looks like a mockingbird. The tail’s really stubby.– NARRATOR: Throughout Bird
Calls, Cliff gives helpful tips
like how to make
hummingbird food.
– CLIFF: Always four parts
water, one part sugar. Never any other
kind of sweetener. A mistake a lot of people do
is they put a feeder up and they say, “I’m not
going to change it until they drink it all.” And that’s a mistake
in the hot south. You want to replace it every
three or four days so if that bothers you, just
don’t fill it up to the brim, just fill it half way
because it kind of spoils. It’s like feeding
your kids sour milk. – BILL: Well basically it turns
into alcohol doesn’t it? – Well, maybe so and that might
be appealing to some listeners but its not appealing
to the hummingbird so.– NARRATOR: As well as
practical advice.
– CLIFF: I don’t think I’d
stick my hand though on top of a monk parakeet. Boy, if they can crack a seed,
just think what they could do to your finger. – CALLER: And one more question
before I let you go. – Uh huh. Sure.– NARRATOR: It’s a pretty good
gig for Texas Parks
and Wildlife too.– CLIFF: This is a great
partnership for Parks and Wildlife because we
don’t have to spend a dime on the equipment. They just send me over to
preach the good word of birds through a radio station
that’s already established. The estimates with the
radio show are reaching over 10,000 people. So I can reach a lot
of people in one hour. – BILL: Ben from Dry Prong,
your on line with Cliff, what’s your question? – BEN: Uh, Rain Crows. – Uh huh! – BEN: I hear people say
Rain Crow and I don’t know what the heck they’re
talking about. – CLIFF: Ok, well it’s one of
the few birds that sings during a rain storm and so in a light
gentle rain storm, they’re still making their
ca,ca,ca,ca,ca,cow,cow, cow, cow and that’s the Yellow-Billed
Cuckoo and that’s also called the Rain Crow. – BILL: Cliff we’re going to
close out this program with another conservation tip, what
do you have for us this week. – Yea, in this month’s
conservation tip, we’re going to discuss
bird baths.– NARRATOR: And with more than
600 species of birds found
in Texas, many in Louisiana too,
there’s plenty to talk about.
– CLIFF: The staff at the radio
station think it’s pretty cool, there’s really that much
interest in birds, and there really is. [phone rings] – Thank you for calling
Red River Radio. Would you like to make a
pledge or are you calling with a bird question? – CLIFF: What I’d like to see
happen is that this might get syndicated. [bird chirping]– NARRATOR: That might
have to wait.
But now, Bird Calls
airs monthly.
– BILL: This has been Bird Calls
from Red River Radio. Our producers for this show
are Bill Beckett and Cliff Shackelford. The audio for tonight’s program
will be posted to our website in the next few hours and you
can listen to this program again online at– NARRATOR: This project was
funded in part by a grant
from the Wildlife
Restoration Program.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. They should make this show into a podcast and make it available. I have a very long commute and love podcasts. I'm sure I would learn a lot from this one.

  2. Please tell me what bird is singing at the VERY FIRST OPENING SOUNDS of this video? It calls twice, once by itself, then again right after the talking starts. I have been trying to ID this bird, but since I am (obviously) not a birder, I'm having a hard time finding out which one it is!
    This bird sits outside my window and I hear it soooo often, I LOVE hearing it!
    But I have never seen it.
    Been listening to it for years, and years! Decades actually…
    So probably, I have been hearing many generations of this kind of bird. Altho, I have no idea how long they live!
    It's about time I knew what it was!!
    If someone out there can answer, I would be grateful! ♡

  3. Someone asked for the identification of the opening bird song: That's a Carolina Wren. And another asked about podcasts: As of fall 2019, there are over 50 hours of this radio show available for download here:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *