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 A Natural History of North Central Texas
Animal Life
  Overview   Wildlife Links
Wildlife of N Central Texas

Humans and animals paths cross quite frequently in growing Texas cities and suburban areas particularly in new housing developments. In Collin County where I live it seems that clusters of new homes spring from the earth most everywhere overnight. The land where the new developments occupy were wildlife habitat just last month before it was dozed under. The critters that called this place home didn't get a notice to move. They had to grab most of the kids and run.

In many urban locations available green areas that can support displaced wildlife are severely fragmented (discontinuous) and over populated. This pushes our woodland creatures into our yards and parks to search for food and water. It was just been 6-1/2 years when the land surrounding where I live (NW Wylie, TX) was tillable farmland cut by two flooding creeks lined with trees. There was a thriving community of invertebrates and insects, rabbits, rodents of all types, lizards, snakes, amphibians, wide assortment of birds, armadillos, skunks, opossums, raccoons, foxes, bobcats, coyotes, a variety of birds of prey and the habitat to support them.

As more and more of this habitat is repurposed for human habitation, the wildlife is displaced to creek bottoms, parklands, large wooded estates and other green belts many of which are not linked together. Wildlife is observed on our streets and in our yards which was once their home. Some species can adapt well to the change while others not so much. Those that don't adapt are compressed into the remaining "green lands" protected by our state, regional and municipal codes. The “roamers” have multiple encounters with humans, some pleasant and some not. If we don’t create or preserve supportive habitat for these creatures we will be pushing them to localized extinction. The ecologic balance is tipped and it is definitely not in their favor.

In North Texas, nature is where you find it. It can be a chance encounter, in a choice location or in your backyard, or an educated outing in specific green belts to hunt for nature on their terms. I had quite an opportunity that incorporated each which I'll briefly recount in the last few paragraphs.

 

On a Friday there was a notice that Lake Lewisville was to release a large amount of water on Saturday and that downstream locations along the Trinity River should prepare for an abrupt water level rise of 3-8 feet depending upon river channel structure. The next day I parked my pickup on the levee road near the LB Houston Nature Trails and waited for the coming flood.  Estimating how long the water wall would take to get there, I based my time accordingly. I was off about 20 minutes fortunately on the long side. My view was the wooded area flanked by an open road (closed dead-end) and field that led up a hill. I assumed any critters on foot would come out to the open and head to the higher elevation. The assumption was correct for escaping wildlife heading West..

Before the surge arrived, animals began leaving as there was a smaller surge that preceded the larger. Flocks if not clouds of birds flew out in all directions. I saw one bobcat and two foxes, three whitetail deer, a number of raccoons, four or five river otters, armadillos, opossums and skunks. I was too far away to resolve anything much smaller than that even with binoculars. The most prolific displacement, however, was grasshoppers; it seemed to be millions coming from the river area to all land on me, under my shirt, knocking off my glasses. They started to cling and began to cover me. They also obscured any view of the river and wildlife as they became a thick cloud flying up and out on either side of the Trinity as the main surge came through. That's when I decided to scrape them off and get back in the truck. Nothing more could be seen for the cloud of grasshoppers. (Note: this all happened in less than 5 minutes.)

The mammals observed pretty much matches the list found in the Fauna Links page. For details on other North Texas families of wildlife scroll through the same page to find your special interest.

Resources
Links to resources and additional information regarding North Texas biodiversity and habitat management can be accessed on the Biodiversity page..

  - Doug G. Pierson