Crittters II "A Place Called Home" will be the presentation for WOWE 2018 about
Cactus Creek Ranch and Mary Jo Bogatto, owner, who started Cactus Creek Ranch, or
CCR. Starting with only a few blades of grass and some local cacti in 1995, CCR
currently consists of 400 acres that has been revamped into an ideal native habitat with
nine man-made ponds.
Mary Jo walks the three-mile research trail around her 400-acre property to make sure
nothing’s out of the ordinary. Along the trail are markers identifying red ant beds and
horned lizards which are protected on the ranch. Trip cameras document all activity of
the ranch. Bogatto said she has a great respect for nature so every animal that is on the
property or wanders onto it is going to be protected.
Bird research via bird banding was begun on Cactus Creek Ranch during 2011 with
Mark Conway. Site fidelity of both permanent residents and winter residents is the main
emphasis of the project. Longevity of all species will be looked at as time goes on. We
have been able to document two pairs of birds returning to Cactus Creek Ranch as a
pair. This important documentation shows that two separate species have been
recaptured at the ranch. These pairs were recaptured on the same date at the same
time suggesting that they travel and migrate together as a unit. Mary Jo is elated
because she is the romantic and sees it as a parent and child or couple returning to her
and to CCR. Documentation on the ranch also shows the longest living Black-crested
titmouse banded on CCR in 2011. To view the records go to bird banding lab and click
Recently, Mary Jo has been working with a Texas State University Ph.D. student and
bird bander, Mark Conway, to document the Tuffed Titmouse. The Ph.D. student’s
research was focusing on behavioral and social aspects of ornithology of the blackcrested
titmouse. The study discovered the formation of kin-structured neighborhoods
through limited juvenile natal dispersal which was a first for this species. The longest living titmouse was again captured and banded in 2017 along with its mate and siblings. Mary Jo Bogatto was acknowledged for her contributions with Bill Clark's research on the Harris Hawk in the THE WILSON JOURNAL OF ORNITHOLOGY Vol. 129, No. 2, June 2017. Future research and critical questions related to understanding sociality in Harris’s Hawk’ breeding strategy are, “What is the origin of the extra birds at nests? Are they related offspring from that group, or are they extra birds that are not related to the primary breeders? And, how does this relate to a polygamous breeding strategy?” Future research should evaluate these questions. Nestled close to the southwestern edge of the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife, CCR is a center for environmental conservation and the preservation of endangered wildlife species. Bogatto calls it a “living classroom” that creates a “living diary of the plants and animals and their diverse habitat.” Bogatto works with LANWR on ocelot protection and with TPWD to protect the horned lizard and Texas Tortoise. Alligators, ocelots, bobcats, snakes, wild pigs and numerous species of birds and insects are just some of the types of animals that can be seen on the ranch. Bogatto said, “When you’re here, you always have to be aware of your surroundings.” She notes with a touch of laughter that she is an “everything watcher.” The ranch works with the Nature Conservatory and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and private donors. As a dedicated Partner in Wildlife, CCR’s habitat restoration has been undertaken through the direction LANWR and TPWD. The ranch is a recipient of TPWD’s Lone Star Land Stewards Award, and Bogatto has been honored by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality with its Texas Environmental Excellence Award in the individual category for her work to restore habitat. Every effort has been made to protect and preserve endangered wildlife species and to create an environment that focuses on the best that Texas has to offer. Mary Jo has made it her mission to educate the public on conservation and the importance of protecting the habitat.
Every effort has been made to protect and preserve endangered wildlife species and to create an environment that focuses on the best that Texas has to offer. Mary Jo has made it her mission to educate the public on conservation and the importance of protecting the habitat. Visit Cactus Creek Ranch Facebook for her photos and information on ranch.