2013 Bucktails student Nicholas M. recently discovered the nesting site of a Red Bellied Woodpecker, and documented its location. It seems the site is under siege by European Starlings – hopefully the woodpeckers can defend their territory against the invaders! Nick reports from the field…
“In the above picture a Red Bellied Woodpecker has made residence in a dead tree. I was fortunate enough to view this while taking a walk down the mostly frozen Poquessing creek. Hopefully in April or May there will be little woodpeckers. Unfortunately, this location is also under siege from the returning European starlings.
European Starlings are an invasive nuisance who were purposely introduced in 1890 by organizations such as the American Acclimatization Society and the Portland Song Bird Club. These birds typically nest in cavities such as the one formed in the picture above by the Red Bellied Woodpecker. Twice while I was there, a starling had the audacity to land on the woodpecker’s property, and twice the Red Bellied Woodpecker had to deliver a sharp peck to the intruding black bird before it flew away.
Below the entrance hole, you might have noticed the tree has been thoroughly pecked at. I believe this is due to drumming, a method most woodpeckers use to attract mates, but it could also be due to other reasons such as an insect infestation. If it is due to drumming, it seems a female is interested. The shot with her in it was the last picture I got before a large, blundering, creature scientifically known as Nicholassus idioticus tried to approach the nesting site for a better shot and scared away both woodpeckers. Aka myself.
The Red Bellied Woodpecker has enough threats, from predators to starlings, that I am an unneeded stress. When April or May comes I’ll pay this location another visit and hopefully see signs of a nesting pair of woodpeckers.”
PA Brookies student Logan recently sent me an email to share his very exciting wildlife encounter. He wrote: Last week I was fortunate enough to observe two Snowy Owls in the wild and was hoping to share my experience. In his words…
Every winter, Snowy Owls migrate from the tundra regions of Canada and Greenland to areas with less harsh conditions.
This year, the number of Snowy Owls is higher then ever before due a surplus of lemmings and voles in the tundra, and because of their high numbers, the birds are migrating farther south. Snowy Owls are the largest owl species in North America and prefer large open spaces such as fields and shorelines.
As of December 27, Snowy Owls have been spotted in 31 counties across the state of Pennsylvania. I had been following sightings in my own county and on December 22nd was able to go out and look for them. I was fortunate enough to observe and photograph two Snowy Owls near New Wilmington in Lawrence County; the first was on the ground along a fence line, the second in an open field.
If you wish to learn more about the snowy owls, this article is a good place to start: http://ebird.org/content/pa/news/snowy-owls-for-christmas/. It also includes the address for reporting your own Snowy Owl sightings.
The journal entry below was written by Philadelphia ZooCREW student, Natasha H.. during one of our times near a stream. Each year the Institute leads a field trip for students for the ZooCREW (Zoo Champions for Restoring Endangered Wildlife) program where we explore the natural history of the Poconos.
I see they run on the ground, I see them running round an’ round. For something sweet, something, kind, something to help them survive. I say, I say, you scamper so, slow down, slow down, I say this so. I want to say not ‘goodbye’ ‘good day’! Yet still you run! One-sided fun! I see, I see where you lead me to rainbow of color that take root to earth not sky. Though some reach for the sky thinking of a past life. I say, I say; as I see a mystery bug right beside me. I ponder what they may be until a bird distracts me, they will stay anyway I’ll come back not today. I saw, I said; no more time to play, time to go to another day. Goodbye those that speed by, goodbye those that don’t say hi; I’ve seen and said and wrote ahead. Now what say you, do you see too?
The journal entry below was written by Philadelphia ZooCREW student, Corey E. during one of our times near a stream. Each year the Institute leads a field trip for students for the ZooCREW (Zoo Champions for Restoring Endangered Wildlife) program where we explore the natural history of the Poconos.
The sight of the emerald giants that merge together to make a scene of abundance as if a green sea that sparkles with a crystal glare. They sit in columns and stand . These majestic organisms bring life to my sight. I can hear its fluttering as the wind blows. I feel a sense of freedom and relief for these giants put me at ease. If they had a voice I wonder what they would say. If they could move I what would they do. These humongous emerald figures, they make me wonder.
As a part of their outreach after the field school, Academy youth participate in outreach in the areas of education, service work, media engagement, and the creative arts. Reports from the Field are reports from the youth on those experiences. In this blog, student Jonathan reports on his experience shadowing field biologist Kris Goetz in the field as he does a CREP review.
Watch Jonathan’s video first – where Kris describes what “CREP” is:
It may not be the most glamorous or well-paid job ever but Kris Goetz still has a very important job. He does CREP reviews for the York county NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service)office. What is CREP? The conservation Reserve Enhancement Program is a program that provides owners of land with compensation for taking the land out of production and making it into grassland. The land owners are required to keep noxious weeds to a minimum. They must also plant trees on their land and must have a 70% survival rate of trees to fulfill their end of the contract. A surviving tree is any tree that is either planted or natural growing which is considered beneficial by the CREP. Kris’s job is to survey fields in the program and create reports based on his findings.
I went with him on three visits to different locations. The first field we visited was good for the first half despite some thistle and mile-a-minute which are considered noxious weeds. In the second half of the field we encountered lots of 4′-8′ Cedar trees where it was supposed to be a grass field habitat for songbirds. On the second field, a riparian area, Kris was worried at first thinking that the trees wouldn’t meet the required 70% survival rate. Upon further investigation we decided that it passed with an approximate 85% survival rate.
At the third CREP site, we were warmly greeted by the owner of the property and he was eager to show us what was going on at his CREP site. He had worked with the Adams county DCNR service forester, Matt Kern. His CREP site was in excellent condition and needed no immediate changes. After that we went back to the NRCS office. While Kris’s job may not be traveling the world or CEO of a big corporation he gets to be outside and help the environment which are two of his highest priorities.