How to participate in Global Bird Weekend in League City, Texas
Looking for ways to get more involved in birding during the pandemic? Try participating in October Big Day 2020 on Saturday, October 17! Sponsored by Cornell University, this 24-hour event collects data from people all around the world to help scientists develop a better understanding of current bird populations and distribution. It’s easy to participate – all you need is an eBird account! It’s free to sign up, and with the free mobile phone app, you can report your sightings on the go. Not familiar with eBird? You’re in for a treat! This citizen science tool is a bird checklist program used by millions of birders to report their sightings. Not only does it allow you to capture your own information, but it also puts a treasure trove of historical data collected from other birders at your fingertips. In addition, during global birding events such as this you will be able to watch results in real-time as others submit their information. You can participate anytime during the 24-hour event, which starts and ends at midnight, and bird anywhere you like – even your own backyard! You also have the flexibility to decide how much time you would like to spend. There’s no need to bird all day – even 15 minutes will provide valuable data. If you would like to venture out a little further, I encourage you to visit some of the parks in the League City area. With different habitats in each park, you can see a wide variety of species without going far from home. Not sure where to start? Watch my October video to learn more about some of our local birding hotspots. To get ready for October Big Day, visit ebird.org/octoberbigday, where you can register for eBird if you haven’t already done so. We would love to see a lot of reports from right here in League City! #LeagueCityBirding Contributed by Kristine Rivers, founder of Birding for Fun
Treat yourself to an unforgettable experience on the water when you rent a kayak from Clear Creek Kayaks. Experience the beauty of the Clear Creek Paddle Trail, and connect with nature as you paddle through this scenic waterway. Clear Creek Kayaks is now providing kayak rentals at Heritage Park on the weekends. A variety of wildlife will enhance your journey on the trail. Egrets, herons, turtles, alligators, and fish can be found throughout the creek, and the banks of the creek are lush with plant life, making you feel completely immersed in nature. Book your kayak rental today, or schedule a guided tour. Learn more at ClearCreekKayaks.com
It may still feel like summer to us, but September is the beginning of fall migration for birds and raptors are already moving back into our area. Binocular vision, heavy curved beaks, and strong talons make these impressive birds extremely efficient at finding and capturing prey. Although we have a few resident species of diurnal raptors (i.e., raptors that are not nocturnal), many more species overwinter here after returning from their breeding grounds to the north. Keep an eye out for these species that are common in the League City area! Red-tailed Hawks are large buteos with rounded wings and fanned tails, usually seen soaring overhead or perched on top of utility poles. The rust-colored tail that gives this species its name is easy to see in adult plumage; juvenile plumage varies greatly however, with light barring on the wings and tail instead. One consistent field mark to look for is the light-colored “V” shape on the back formed by pale feather edgings. Our breeding population of Red-shouldered Hawks is replaced in fall and winter by migrants to our area. These medium-sized buteos also have rounded wings and fanned tails in flight, but are more likely to perch on high lines than on top of utility poles. Adults have bold black-and-white barring on the wings and tails, replaced by barring in shades of brown in juveniles. All ages are very vocal, giving their distinctive two-note call often in flight or while perched. Ospreys used to be known as Fish Hawks, due to their primary prey source. With rounded wings and striking dark brown and white plumage, they are often seen hovering above water before plunging down to snatch fish with their talons. In flight they carry their catch in the most aerodynamic position, headfirst, landing on a nearby pole or post to eat it. American Kestrels are the smallest falcons in North America, about the size of Mourning Doves. Although males are more colorful than females, with blue-gray coloring on their heads and wings, both have two vertical black stripes on the face and heavily barred rusty plumage. Watch for them perched on high lines and hovering in mid-air as they hunt small rodents and other prey. #LeagueCityBirding Contributed by Kristine Rivers, founder of Birding for Fun. Click here to learn more about local birding hotspots on the Upper Texas Gulf Coast.
Texas Artisan is currently expanding with some big changes in store. One step into Texas Artisan and it was obvious that this was not the average gift shop. I was met with a wonderful aroma – a blend of warm and welcoming home scents swirled with a sophisticated, spa-like essence. I took a moment to breathe it in and gazed around at the striking displays. I could tell, immediately, that I would be there for quite a while. Everywhere I looked were products and pieces I could not wait to browse – unique home décor, sparkling jewelry, fashionable clothing, hand-crafted body care items and so much more. Before I’d entered the shop, a gorgeous lamp in the window had caught my eye and beckoned me to take a closer look. As I admired the lamp, I noticed the other beautiful pieces displayed along with it that were unlike anything I’d seen elsewhere – a statuary of large, handsome lamps made of solid onyx, a tall, stunning vase crafted from recycled Spanish glass, and an impressive array of stand-out home and fashion accessories. I was already swooning. The store’s co-owners, Wendy Collard and Terrie Ward, smiled and greeted me with a kind welcome as I walked a bit further past the boutique’s entry. “You’ll have to walk slowly so you don’t miss anything!” said Terrie, acknowledging the densely packed space. Everything in the store was excellently showcased and merchandised, leaving no nook or cranny bare. Like a bug to the light, I gravitated over to the shimmering jewelry case, displaying an assortment of fine jewelry pieces that Wendy graciously allowed me to try on and view up-close. Each piece was magnificent. I had not expected to see such an elegant selection of treasures right here in this neighborhood shop! I was pleased to learn that Texas Artisan also offers jewelry repair, cleaning and appraisal services. Not knowing what to explore next, Terrie offered me the tour. She guided me throughout the store and told me bits and pieces about the various collections they carried, pointing out her personal favorites and sharing the stories behind particular products. She showed me the source of the delicious aroma that filled the place – the combination of fragrant, artisan candles and handmade bath bombs. All along, I made mental notes of the fabulous gift items that would be perfect for my sister’s birthday, my cousin’s graduation, Christmas gifts for my son’s teachers, and so on. I oohed and aahed over one-of-a-kind home accent pieces. I spotted an amazing, designer-esque bracelet that I knew, instantly, would be coming home with me. Adding to my purchase selections, I chose a whimsical teakettle for my mother-in-law, along with a large, mango wood serving tray that was calling my name. If I could, I would have probably bought the whole store! For the lover of beautiful things, eclectic aesthetics and exclusive products, Texas Artisan is an impressive, must-visit, local staple. I certainly cannot wait to go back. By Logan Timmins Vordenbaum Logan recently graduated from the University of Houston Clear Lake with her Bachelor of Communications Degree.
Birding and kids. I wouldn’t normally put the two together. I have always pictured birding as a hobby that requires you to remain very still and quiet. With three kiddos—ages 11, 4, and 1— I didn’t think they could sit still long enough to enjoy birding. Boy was I wrong! I recently learned that all it takes is a good pair of binoculars and a trip to a League City park to get the kids excited, and even quiet! Getting Started Being new to League City, I wasn’t sure where or how to start birding. So, before heading out with my family, we met up with Kristine Rivers—a certified Texas Master Naturalist and local birding expert—at Heritage Park to learn the birding basics. This waterfront park along Clear Creek attracts a wide variety of birds, according to Kristine, making it a great starting place. Kristine was the perfect “hype woman” to get my kids extra excited for this adventure. She gave us strict instructions to “stop, look, and listen,” while searching for birds. My oldest child eagerly grabbed the binoculars and went on the hunt immediately. He eventually spotted what Kristine informed us was a Blue Heron. He enjoyed getting as close as he could to get the best look. While at the park, Kristine also gave us some pointers about how to attract birds to our yard at home and helped us create homemade bird food. The kiddos loved spreading the bird seeds in several different kinds of feeders, as well as crushing up peanuts and spreading them around on the ground for the squirrels. Kristine handed my daughter a split orange and explained that leaving orange pieces on the ground is a good way to bring birds to our yard. Nature Center Finds Our next stop was the Dr. Ned and Fay Dudney Nature Center. The main trail of this scenic preserve splits off into several different trails that lead to bird blinds. We whipped out the binoculars and got to searching, making sure to stop, look, and listen like we were instructed. The kids loved looking around the wetlands to see what they could find. As we walked from bird blind to bird blind, my older two would stop us in our tracks if they heard rustling in the trees or chirping from up above. It was fun to watch them play what my daughter referred to as a new game of “hide and seek,” and I was surprised to see them get so excited about listening to the different bird calls, trying to distinguish one from another. At the nature center we spotted several egrets out on the water. We also saw another bird that, at first glance, looked like a seagull. After a longer look at its markings and a bit of research, we discovered the bird we saw was actually a masked booby. These birds are usually found flying around warm waters, like the ones at the nature center. While my son and I watched several birds flying over the water, my daughter had her eyes on the several ducks swimming on the water, squealing every time they would dip their heads beneath the surface. Our introduction to birding got us out of the house and interested in a new hobby. My kids have already asked me when we can go again, and if we can set up our own feeding station in our yard. If you are looking for an outdoor activity that’s enjoyable for all ages, birding might pleasantly surprise you—like it did me—and League City is the perfect place to start. by Chelsea Hobbs Chelsea is a mom of 3, and is graduating from University of Houston-Clear Lake with a Bachelors in Communications
League City is one of the best places in Texas to enjoy bird watching. And you don’t have to go far—just start with your own backyard. If you want to attract different types of birds to your backyard, try putting out a variety of different food at different levels. Bird Food Options Sunflower Seeds (black oil sunflower seeds are thin shelled and easier for smaller birds to eat) Unsalted peanuts (attract blue jays and woodpeckers) Fresh fruit (attracts migrant birds and woodpeckers) Suet (attracts small birds and songbirds ) Different birds like to eat at different levels. Ground feeders will attract doves, blue jays, and cardinals. Hanging feeders attract smaller birds because they can come in quickly and grab a seed. Suet feeders are great for smaller birds as well. Watch the video below for more backyard bird tips from Kristine Rivers with Birding for Fun.
Opening August 2020! 114 Pinnacle Park Drive League City, TX 77573 281-967-8490 Facebook Page: @FairfieldLeagueCity All new, the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott in League City is an upscale five-story hotel offering 112 standard rooms and suites, along with a full-service bar, a boardroom, pool, and a large fitness room. Guests will be greeted by a beautiful water feature and southern style landscaping. Once inside, you'll take in the new hotel lobby's fresh farm-house design. Overall beautifully clean and welcoming, the hotel lobby and guest rooms feature warm touches and flexible spaces to help guests be their best. The hotel features include a complimentary hot breakfast. Guests may choose from a wide variety of morning favorites like fresh fruit, omelets, mini waffles, assorted pastries, and much more.The outdoor patio area welcomes guests to an charming outdoor kitchen area complete with gas grills. It's a perfect place to take in the Texas sunsets that paint the night sky. Guests can enjoy their meal and a cocktail from the hotel's full bar. Whether coming for a baseball tournament directly next door at Big League Dreams Sports Park, or enjoying a getaway to Bay Area Houston, Fairfield guests will find everything they need and more. Make your reservations and plan your trip to League City now!
July 17th is Kayak Day - Enjoy the Great Outdoors on the Clear Creek Paddle Trail
Some glide swiftly through the water with every powerful stroke. Others drift leisurely in their vessels allowing the lazy current to gently pull them along. Some do it for the exercise, for the challenge, or for the bragging rights. Some do it for the change of pace. Some do it to connect with nature, or to enjoy the sunshine with friends and family. No matter the intensity or intentions, there’s one thing that kayak and paddleboard lovers share: the irreplaceable experience of venturing out on the water and disconnecting from their lives on land, for a bit. The City of League City, in partnership with Kayak Shack, wants more people to have that experience, right here in our own backyard! That’s why on Friday, July 17, from 9:00 am - 6:00 pm, the Kayak Shack is offering kayak and paddleboard rentals launching from Heritage Park in honor of a League City celebration of Kayak Day. Detach from the busyness and chaos of life and discover the wonders that await you on the Clear Creek Paddle Trail. Soak up the sun afloat one of Kayak Shack’s premium kayaks or switch it up and try out some paddleboards with friends for a fun day on the water! Whether you’re a solo adventurer or looking to make memories with your family, Kayak Day on the Clear Creek Paddle Trail is a perfect time to get out of the house and get active! Depending on how long you’d like to voyage, rentals are available for 1 or 3 hours of paddle time. There is plenty to explore on the Clear Creek Paddle Trail. Just minutes from your launch point, you’ll feel as though you are miles-deep into the wilderness. You’ll see a plethora of birds, reptiles, and wildlife, and hear the music of their chirps and rattles as you paddle. Pay attention to your surroundings and notice the vibrant and thriving life all around you. Look closely at floating logs along your ride and you might notice that some have thick scales, gnarly teeth, and shiny, watchful eyes. That’s right. You just might encounter an alligator or two lurking near the bayou’s edge or moving quietly through the water across the creek. Bring a pair of binoculars for a better view of native creatures. Most notably, you will discover the amazing world of birds that make the surrounding, verdurous trees and grasses their home. Just minutes beyond the banks at Heritage Park, you can observe birds in their natural habitat, including species like ducks, pelicans, shorebirds, wading birds, woodland birds, raptors, herons, egrets, ibis, spoonbills, songbirds, hawks and more. To make the most of your time and to have the best experience, be sure to lather up the sunscreen, douse yourself with bug spray and bring plenty of water. Food trucks will be available at the park for snacks, drinks, or a tasty lunch before or after your rental. Make sure to take photos to commemorate the day and tag us on Facebook and Instagram so we can see and share, too! Looking forward to a fun-filled day in the great outdoors with the awesome residents and visitors of League City! Register online at or call 832-429-2094 to make your reservation!
Want to know what species of birds are in your area? Listen to the mockingbird! Although our state bird the Northern Mockingbird isn’t brightly colored, it makes its presence known by singing almost continuously. Mockingbirds are aptly named, as they are excellent mimics, learning the songs of other birds as well as the sounds of insects, amphibians, and even machinery. Both male and female mockingbirds sing, although males are much louder and more insistent. Young males sing the most, practicing their repertoire non-stop throughout day and night, giving the species its nickname of American Nightingale. A single mockingbird may learn and repeat up to 200 songs over the course of its lifetime! Our resident mockingbird fools me quite often, singing a wide variety of songs including those of Eastern Phoebe, Northern Cardinal, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, House Sparrow, and many more. Over the past two weeks, it’s been practicing the various calls of Blue Jays and working them into its long string of cheerful songs. One of the most interesting things about mockingbirds is that they have regional dialects, which makes sense if you think about it – they each learn the songs of the birds in their own area. Since mockingbirds are for the most part non-migratory, you can often determine the species that frequent an area by listening closely to their repertoire. We often stop and look for Black Rail along the Bluewater Highway in Surfside; although we haven’t seen it yet, we know it must be there because the local mockingbird mimics it. Look for mockingbirds singing proudly from the top of high perches such as power poles, signs, and fences, as well as trees. You may also see them while mowing your yard, chasing the insects stirred up by the mower in addition to any other birds that dare to visit. I enjoy watching them boldly stalking and flying at larger species such as Cattle Egrets and raptors, seemingly without fear, flashing the large white patches on their extended wings. Mockingbirds do sometimes visit feeders but are more likely to be seen eating insects and berries, so plant a variety of fruit-bearing bushes and trees in your yard if you would like to attract them. With a lifespan of up to 14 years, mockingbirds will add beautiful sound and entertaining activity to your yard for years to come. #LeagueCityBirding Contributed by Kristine Rivers, founder of Birding for Fun.
If you ventured outside recently, you probably noticed there were suddenly colorful birds everywhere—flitting about in bushes and trees, swarming feeders and water drips, and causing excitement as birders watched in amazement. Spring migrants have been trickling through for the last month, but not in numbers like this, so you may be wondering what caused this sudden burst of activity. The phenomenon we experienced, referred to as a fallout, was caused by the competing storm systems that moved through our area. Migrating birds encountered a strong storm while crossing the Gulf of Mexico, which drained their energy and fat resources as they battled wind and rain. Exhausted, they literally fell out of the sky upon reaching land, seeking safe places to take cover and refuel with food and water before continuing northward. However, a second storm system pushed from north to south, preventing them from doing so. This kept them in our area for a couple of extra days as they moved about in noisy flocks, busily foraging for seeds and insects. When birding around League City during spring migration, be sure to keep a watchful eye out no matter where you are. Local parks such as the Dr. Ned & Fay Dudney Clear Creek Nature Center and Lynn Gripon Park at Countryside attract noisy flocks of many colorful species, but songbirds may stop to rest and refuel any place with scrubby brush and trees. I have seen Indigo and Painted Buntings, Summer and Scarlet Tanagers, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Hooded and Yellow Warblers, Blue Grosbeaks, and more along the roadsides in our area. We have always enjoyed birding by car, and it is the perfect way to safely enjoy birding while social distancing. If you’d like to attract some of these beautiful migrants to your yard, create a feeding area with seed available at different levels (scattered on the ground, hanging feeders, tray feeders, etc.), and add oranges sliced in half, grape jelly, suet, cracked corn, peanuts—the more choices, the bigger variety of species you will be able to entice. You will not only enjoy getting closer looks at these gorgeous birds, but you will be providing them with much-needed sustenance on their journey back to their breeding grounds. #LeagueCityBirding Contributed by Kristine Rivers, founder of Birding for Fun.
Farmers and families from Turin, Italy During the early decades of the twentieth century, agricultural enterprises of all kinds flourished in and around League City. Some residents, like George Giessler, raised milk cows. Others grew a variety of truck crops including strawberries, corn, cucumbers, beets, figs, tomatoes, and grapefruit. Much of this produce was grown by a group of Italian families that immigrated to League City from Cercenasco, Italy a small town located in the province of Turin. Over a thirty year period, these Italian famiglia entered America via Ellis Island, New York, sailed to the Port of Galveston, and moved inland to League City. They possessed names still very familiar to many League City residents: Vaglienti, Ghirardi, Arolfo, Daro, Cucco, Morratto and Bocco. The transplantation of these Piedmontese to North Galveston County produced a strong, cohesive Italian community that continues to maintain a close relationship today. Farmers, businessmen from Japan The lack of food resources in Japan spurred other arrivals to the League City area. In 1903, a small band of Japanese rice farmers, led by the Japanese lawyer and businessman, Seito Saibara, came to Texas in order to establish a lucrative rice farming venture. The purpose involved growing enough rice to sell to Americans while sending the surplus to their land-limited countrymen in Japan. For a while, the fertile soil, abundant water supply and warm Gulf Coast climate ensured the success of this enterprise. For approximately twenty years, large sections of land north of League City contained a magnificent sea of rice fields that showcased huge stacks of golden straw at harvest time. However by the late 1920’s many of the Japanese rice farmers in the League City-Webster area had fallen victim to hard times. A glut in the rice market after World War I forced many Japanese immigrants to convert their rice fields to truck farming. Some established nurseries in Webster and League City specializing in fig and Satsuma orange groves. Mitsutaro Kobayashi, an original member of the Saibara colony, became the first Issei (first generation) in the region to create a flourishing truck farming enterprise. At the height of his operations, Kobayashi possessed 350 acres of truck crops and 20 acres of Satsuma orange groves.
The final resting place for many members of League City’s early residents is the historical Fairview Cemetery. Located on North Kansas Street in the historic section of League City, this cemetery began burials in 1900 and still continues today. The first burial in Fairview was Charlotte “Lottie” Natho, a nine-year-old girl who died from diphtheria following the 1900 storm. Her marker simply states, “Lottie Natho 1891-1900”. A large number of the tombstones in Fairview are dated between 1900 and 1930. Eighteen known Civil War veterans are buried in Fairview Cemetery, half of them Union soldiers and half Confederate. Three of these men, John Henry Kipp, John William Derrick, and John Daniel W. Owens were members of the local unit, the Magnolia Rangers. Fairview Cemetery also contains the graves of twenty-four known World War I veterans including three young men who died during the war: Leslie Bryan Scott who died of wounds in France, Don W. Greer, a victim of the 1918 influenza epidemic, and George Ghirardi, who was swept overboard and lost at sea. Twenty veterans of World War II are buried in Fairview Cemetery including three members of the Women’s Army Corps. Bordering the banks of Clear Creek, the cemetery was once an important gathering place for local citizens and a convenient spot for picnics. Memorial Day, referred to as “Decoration Day” by the local residents, was celebrated every year at the cemetery. A typical Decoration Day ceremony at Fairview was described by the Mainland Messenger on May 26, 1915. On that occasion, the League City Band provided musical accompaniment as Civil War veteran, T. W. Reeves gave the opening remarks, the crowd sang hymns, listened to recitations of patriotic poems, and then decorated all the veterans’ graves. The ceremony then moved to the water’s edge for final hymns and flowers were scattered on the water. A photograph dated May 30, 1911 shows a number of horse-drawn carriages and formally attired ladies, gentlemen and children gathered in the cemetery on Memorial Day.