CREATING BIRD-FRIENDLY LANDSCAPES – -AND – – ANSWER TO WHERE AM I AT

April 17, 2013 6:54 am Published by Leave your thoughts

       Answer to the last blogs  “Where am I at on Presque Isle”

I WAS AT – – -The beginning of the Northeast end of Pine Tree Trail about 200 yards from the old Fog Station Foundation.     This is a wonderful and easy trail to walk and explore.    Right now the grass is just thinking about adding some green to the wide open pathway.   During mid-summer between the moss and grass it is almost like they carpetted the trail.    The moss is just now begiining to turn green and push its way through the sand and leaves.

      Birds love this area and if you are quiet and take your time, it is full of wildlife.   A Red-tail Hawk chased me away from his nest two years ago.   The problem was that I ddn’t know I was nearing the nest.  He let me know by buzzing me (within a foot or two of me ) three times.   I got his message.   You could  hear his mate loudly cheering him on in the background.

     Early morning can be a photographers heaven on this trail when the mist and fog cover this sheltered area.    Kids will enjoy walking this trail and I encourage everyone to give it a try.

 

 

 

Blue Jay on Presque Isle

Blue Jay on Presque Isle

It finally looks like spring has arrived.   When we walk on Presque Isle or work in our yards, we start to see and hear our fair weather visitors again.   While baseball fans gear up for their teams’ opening games this time of year, birders and other nature lovers are looking forward to the arrival of various waves of migrating birds.   Maybe it’s Baltimore Orioles, Purple Martins, Warblers, Bluebirds or one of the many others of our feathered friends that catches your attention this spring.

After wintering somewhere south of here such as Mexico, the Gulf Coast or Central America, this is the time of year they come north to breed and rear their young.   Most of these birds moved here from fairly wild and rural areas.  Yet, once they come north, they are relatively common in urban areas and parks.   It’s a real treat to me to realize the Baltimore oriole that I will see on Presque Isle soon may have been looking down on a Jaguar in Central America just a few weeks ago.

Bonaparte Gull-Brian Berchtold

Bonaparte Gull-Brian Berchtold

The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center in Washington, D.C. says that two-thirds of all North American wildlife species live in the cities and suburbs of the United States.  It also has been found that more than 80 avian species nest and raise their young within 100 miles of these areas.  This includes common backyard birds such as woodpeckers, owls, Blue Jays, Chickadees and Cardinals.   Then there are the warblers, herons, hummingbirds, cormorants and many waterfowl which also easily move in for the summer.

As an increasing share of the United States becomes urban and suburban, conserving bio-diversity takes on more importance.   In fact, if you look at an aerial photograph of the United States at night, it is clear that more than half the nation is now urban or suburban.   However, there is good news.   Many studies have confirmed that people want to see wildlife, including birds, in their own backyards.   These same reports show a growing interest and effort being taken to develop “green” ways to preserve bird and wildlife friendly areas in and around our cities.

Presque Isle, Erie Bluffs and Asbury Woods give this area a head start in making and keeping our particular area wildlife friendly.  Three different studies by various colleges have analyzed a variety of data including land use, vegetation cover, invasive plant species and socioeconomic factors such as income and education.   All studies have shown that the most important factor of sustaining wildlife is vegetation cover, particularly tree cover.

Having said that, many people will jump to the seemingly obvious conclusion that when it comes to bird habitat, “if it’s green, it’s good.”   That is not true.    It has been proven that when nonnative plants replace the native plants, as they often do in urban settings, this affects the food chain.   Many times the nonnative plants are not part of the native plant-eating insects’ diets.  This reduces the number and variety of these insects.  These are the most important food for birds, spiders, reptiles and other animals.

 

Male Cardinal - - Brian Berchtold

Male Cardinal – – Brian Berchtold

 

Most people do not realize that birds do not reproduce on a diet of seeds and berries.  Think about it for a minute, have you ever seen a mother or father bird feeding their young a seed or berry?   More than 96% of the birds in this area rear their young on insects.   Did you know that the native oak tree can provide food for more than 500 species of caterpillars while many nonnative trees, which are the fashionable trees to plant in urban settings, may only sustain three or four species?  Why is this important?  Birds such as warblers, Chickadees, and Scarlet Tanagers rely on them for 90% of their diet during breeding season.   Needless to say, with nonnative plants comes a lot less bird food.

So what can we do to promote birds and wildlife in our own backyards?   There are many things; however the most important are the following:

  1. Eliminate pesticides.
  2. Plant native plants.
  3. Have a bird feeder.
  4. Provide a source of water for wildlife.
  5. Hang a suet feeder.
  6. Try to stop free-roaming domestic cats.

The National Wildlife Federation has a Wildlife Habitat Certification program for your property.    It sets certain guidelines that are necessary to become part of their program.   For more information and an application go to www.nwf.org/habitatapplication.

 

 

See you on the park!!


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