Barn swallows are abundant in the United States and most parts of the world. They prefer to live in semi-open country and typically build their mud nests on human structures, such as barns, eaves, garages, under bridges, and so on. It is rare to find them in natural habitats. So it is special to have some small colonies in the Preserve, where barn swallows nest in the sheltered crevices of the vertical cliff near Raymer’s Cove.
Arlene Koziol photographed how both parents feed their babies, stuffing insects into gaping beaks. The nestlings leave the nest after about 3 weeks. The barn swallows dart gracefully low over the ground or water surface and catch insects in flight. Their long tail is deeply forked, and they dazzle the observer with their flashy cobalt blue upper parts. See Arlene’s Flickr site.
Glenda Denniston reported that she found a new plant in the NE Corner of Bills Woods this July: "I was worried it might be a new invasive but couldn’t figure out what it was. Roma Lenehan came over with a piece of the same plant from the same place. I got more serious about it and have identified it as Small-flowered leaf-cup (Polymnia canadensis). It’s a native. I know we didn’t plant it and it’s a pretty conservative species. .... Interesting to me is the fact that the particular spot where we’ve found it is a place where Hydrophyllum appendiculatum, Great waterleaf, is doing especially well. I have read that the two plants often are found in the same habitats."
After Glenda submitted the plant to the UW Herbarium for identification, she received this positive reply from Ken Cameron, Prof of Botany and director of the UW Herbarium: "Dear Glenda, That’s a great find! You are correct that it’s been collected east and west of Dane Co, plus a few scattered locations to the north. … Thanks for the information."
Adam Gundlach, Preserve Field Project Coordinator, added information about a origin of the plant in this location. The plant had been deliberately introduced into the Preserve almost a decade ago: "I found a record from 2012 of Polymnia purchased from Prairie Moon Nursery. ... Beauty aside, ecologically speaking, we were likely trying to add diversity to the seed mix sown over shady areas we are often left with after clearing brush under dense canopy. Polymnia is attractive to pollinators, shade tolerant, and helps round out the late bloom period."
Gisela Kutzbach and contributors