Birder's Guide

MAY 2017

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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10 Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community | May 2017 Grand Valley Audubon Society: Homes for Owls ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– At a time when Western Screech-Owl populations are declining in Colorado— by 65%, according to the latest Colorado Breeding Bird Atlas—you might wonder why the screech-owl tally in the Grand Junction Christmas Bird Count routinely ranks the highest in the world. Nic Korte, conservation chairman of Grand Valley Audubon Society, is only too happy to solve the mystery. "Here in Grand Junction, on the edge of their territory, we have counted 99, 86, and 75 screech-owls in the past three years," he says. "Much of the reason for our high counts is that, over the past decade in particular, we've maintained a large owl box program. We have about 200 boxes in our count circle. In those same three years for the CBC, we attributed 49, 48, and 33 of the owls to boxes. There could be more, but these were the ones in or next to boxes when seen or heard." As in the rest of the state, owl popula- tions around Grand Junction would be expected to drop as the community grows and people cut down cottonwood trees where owls like to nest. The CBC numbers offer evidence that the owls have stuck around, using the nest boxes in cemeter- ies, golf courses, schoolyards, parks, and areas of subdivision development. "In Grand Junction," Korte says, "we like to think that we have bucked the trend of screech-owl decrease with our conserva- tion program relying on owl boxes." Check out the Audubon group's website (www.audubongv.org) to learn more. Stephanie Seymour: Cardinal Flower Magic ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– In her yard in Ringwood, New Jersey, Stephanie Seymour has helped nature achieve pollination perfection. Shortly after she and her husband, Rob- ert Perry, moved into their new house in the summer of 2014, they planted a small garden of native flowers to make their yard even more bird- and butterfly-friendly than it already was. The next spring, they added Echinacea and butterfly weed (Asclepias tu - Conservation Milestones are published in the Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community to recognize efforts toward building a better future for birds and for birders. If you have a con- servation milestone to share, or know someone who deserves to be lauded for conservation and community activities, please contact Conservation Milestones Editor Noah Strycker . We are especially enthusiastic about stories that include photos and contact information or other resources that inspire others to make their own contributions. Conservation Milestones berosa). In the fall, they put in seven cardi- nal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis). "We weren't sure they would make it through the winter," Seymour says, "but the following spring, we watched as six cardinal flowers began to push up through the mulch along with the milkweed." Most of the flowers grew spectacularly, to over five feet tall—a few were taller than Seymour—and produced hundreds of brilliant red blooms. Then the pollina- tion magic began. "We soon happily realized that the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds absolutely loved the cardinal flowers," Seymour says. Cardinal flowers have adapted to a sin - gle pollinator—hummingbirds—and the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only hummer species that resides in north- eastern North America where Seymour lives. Seymour was delighted to watch the Ruby-throats sip nectar as they performed their pollination services for the plants. An avid eBird user, Seymour tracks all Grand Valley Audubon Society's large owl box program in Colorado gives homes to Western Screech-Owls, such as this one photographed in spring 2011. Photo © Brett L. Walker A Ruby-throated Hummingbird sips nectar from a cardinal flower in Stephanie Seymour's bird- friendly garden—pure pollination perfection. Photo © Stephanie Seymour

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