Fall Riots

24 10 2007


(The view across Sapsucker Woods pond…)

A riot of color currently awaits visitors to Sapsucker Woods. This week has seen temperatures in the 70s (!) and crystal blue skies (though right now we are suffering through an inch-and-a-half of rain [rainyith]). This change in the scenery is quite possibly one of the most beautiful times of year to visit the Lab. Though migratory birdlife is winding down, the more subtle attraction of sparrows and finches abounds, and this year in particular finds us inundated with purple finches and siskins (an uncommon visitor to SSW!) among the more common winter denizens of the woods. So, if you’ve been wanting to see a pine siskin, right now the Lab feeders are the place to be…(thanks to Ryan for the SSW-specific pix of birds)


(The view from Adelson Library, looking over the Treman Bird-feeding Garden)

Speaking of the Lab feeders, recent visitors to the Visitors’ Center will likely have noticed that there is a renovation underway in the Treman Bird Feeding Garden. Initially, the bird-feeding garden was one of the last items implemented after the construction of the new building, and was slightly overlooked in the process. Recently, a donor has emerged that pledged funds to take the garden to the next level, and by mid-November the garden will serve as a new living “interactive display” illustrating the most important tenets of landscaping for birds (referred to as “birdscaping“). Cayuga Landscape has undertaken the renovation with input from landscape architect Marv Adleman (the designer of the original bird-feeding garden in the old Stuart Observatory), myself, and others on staff (including noted Audubon birdscaping author Stephen Kress).

By next Spring the garden itself will be a riot of color, with trees and perennials blooming in beautiful colors, and the birds hopefully responding to a rich new environment full of native plants chosen for their enrichment…As the garden shapes up I will post more about its progress. If you want to watch the renovation in realtime, check out the view from our feedercam (also slated to be upgraded in the next few weeks!)


Veery Lucky

7 07 2007


Each day I try and take a walk around the Lab of O; in this case, I’m not sightseeing or birding, or even on a trail. I stalk the space within a few meters of the physical building, eyes scanning the ground for a patch of color that stands out from the green or the gravel. Many have spoken of the new Lab as being a beautiful building in a beautiful setting, but upon further reflection, this building’s beauty betrays birds. The energy-efficient, UV filtering windows that offer unimpeded views of Sapsucker Woods pond and the surrounding forest offer birds a lethal reflection of their environment, and from time to time this reflection results in the death of a bird.

A few caveats before I go further: I work for the Lab, and know that everyone working here cares about the issue of windowstrikes. In fact, the oddly proportioned windows in the Observatory of the Visitors’ Center, with their deep mullions and multitude of frame sizes, were originally thought to reduce the likelihood of strikes (and who knows-perhaps they do?). This general pattern was carried out throughout the rest of the building’s exterior, and all of the windows face habitat (except those on the East side of the building). Yet windowstrikes still occur, though my general impression for the past year is that windowstrikes peak during migration periods, with the Fall migration having the highest proportion due to naive juveniles.


The stalking I mention in the first paragraph is a part of my windowstrike monitoring effort here at the Lab. So far this summer, there have been very few reports of birds striking windows (from those Lab staff lucky enough to have a window), and no dead birds have been found beneath the windows. One incident involved the veery pictured above. I received an email from someone on the first floor, north side, that something had struck their window; I didn’t see this email until 15 minutes after it happened, and when I arrived on scene to check on the bird I found a veery sitting calmly underneath the window, breathing regularly but seemingly in a daze. After a few moments in a dark box the bird perked up, and within moments it had flitted off to the low bushes and begun preening (and I breathed a sigh of relief).

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