Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dallas - Home to the Wild Parakeets?

      A few weeks ago I was driving home and noticed a parrot flying in my neighborhood. Like any other person, I thought, "Wow, a parrot, flying around my neighborhood." I felt a bit saddened that somebody's pet had escaped and probably wouldn't survive in the wild for long.

      A week later, I saw 2 more parakeets. I started to think there might be more than just a few escaped parrots flying around East Dallas. After a little research, I discovered that White Rock Lake is home to a rather large parakeet colony. (Another thing I learned, parakeets are a type of parrots.)

     Apparently, a few escaped parakeets found a home on a electrical substation that generates enough heat to make their nest warm enough to live year round. A couple of escaped parakeets became a colony over the course of many years. I drove around the White Rock area and found the substation behind the dam about 200 yards southwest of the old pumphouse. The best time to spot the parrots is at dusk, when they return to their giant nests. It's quite a site, to see the colony of South American birds return home each night. Hats of to TU Electric which decided to leaved the parrots undisturbed after East Dallas neighbors voiced theire desire to leave the colony intact.

     I mentioned this discovery one morning on our radio show and received reports of similar colonies on electrical substations in Irving and Everman.


Directions The Parakeet's nests are about the High Voltage towers across from the White Rock Lake Filter Building

 I never would have imagined that in the year since moving to East Dallas, I would have spotted parrots flying around my neighborhood. I add them to my list that includes foxes, hawks, coyotes and Gary Cogill.






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Sunday, November 1, 2009

In Defense of 32,000 Frog Fans

This has been an exciting season for the TCU Horned Frog Football Squad. The November 2nd edition of the USA has the Purple and White ranked as the nation's 4th best team.

However, this past few weeks has been a interesting one for TCU fans and the city of Fort Worth. On October 17th, Jennifer Floyd Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram wrote a column suggesting that the Frogs deserved larger crowds to witness this special season. Earlier this week, Head Coach Gary Patterson spent part of his weekly press conference imploring more fans to fill Amon Carter Stadium.

I agree. I would like to see the stadium packed for all home games. It would be great on so many levels.

But Saturday when the Versus broadcasters and the studio hosts mocked the city of Fort Worth for not supporting the Horned Frogs while showing an empty section of Amon Carter Stadium, I had to throw a penalty flag.

The one thing that is never mentioned is that TCU is a really small school, one of the smallest in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. There are only 8,000 students. Compare that to the University of Texas and A&M which have nearly 50,000 students. Texas Tech has over 30,000 students. Those schools churn out thousands of alumni every year. And any college Athletic Director will tell you that alumni buy the bulk of season tickets.

Texas is averaging 101,000 fans per game. That's about twice the size of their student body. Texas A&M averages 82,000. That's not even twice the size of their student body. TCU is averaging 32,000. That's 4 times their student body. Name another Division 1 school that draws 4 times their student body. (Answer: Notre Dame)

Boise State has been mentioned in this debate as a small school that sells out at home and gives their team a home field advantage. But Boise State's stadium only holds 33,000. Basically, they are drawing the same as TCU. Plus they have an enrollment of 18,000.

Here in the Dallas - Fort Worth area. Can you name another team that averages more fans per game than the Frogs? There is only one, The Cowboys. The Frogs average attendance is higher than the Rangers, Mavericks and the Stars.

Still, it would be great if the Frogs could draw 5 1/2 times their student body and fill 44,000 seats in Amon Carter Stadium, even when they play Mountain West Conference teams and their small cadre of traveling fans. Or at the very least, have the tailgators come into the stadium for the start of the game.