Sunday's walk was fun. It was sunny, cool and windy, very comfortable. 17 participants, led by Jeff Koziol, Bluebird trail coordinator, were able to see a bluebird nest and eggs, a tree swallow nest with eggs and a house wren nest. We were able to let everyone identify flying bluebirds and tree swallows. Chuck Henderson gave us all a real treat by finding a yellow billed Cuckoo (sound only) and to observe a perching kingbird. There was a good discussion about problems with cavity nesting birds and loss of habitat, problems of a cold spring and loss of insects. Everyone learned about the problems of house sparrows and competition for nesting sites. We were able to observe the ideal bluebird habitat, the shortgrass prairie around house 5. This is the first year that boxes haven't been occupied by house sparrows!
Seth McGee, Biocore lab manager and Purple Martin (PUMA) House monitor, gave a well organized talk about purple martins. We all learned something new. Seth also talked about the Biocore Prairie. It was wonderful; he talked about the importance of fire to maintain the prairie and the ongoing study at the Biocore Prairie dividing the prairie into sections and selectively burning some sections with an unburned control section. Jeff was able to show people his plant I.D. app and how much it adds to a walk. If you are out on a hike or bird walk, why not check all the plants?
Seth added this information: PUMAs line their nests with green leaves shortly before the egg laying begins. "The gathering of green leaves is still somewhat of a mystery. BirdsOfTheWorld says that at least seven hypotheses have been offered to explain it and there seems to be few controlled studies investigating the role of green leaves. I'm going with "decorating the nursery. 😉"
Richard Ness, PUMA monitor, the next day added photos of Purple Martins gathering leaves from the nearby fruit trees for lining their nests, as a well a Cooper's Hawk standing guard nearby and keeping away unwanted sparrows. Report by Jeff Koziol and Seth Mcgee. Photos by Chuck Henrikson, Signe Holtz, Seth Mcgee and Paul Noeldner.