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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Page 19 of 51

18 Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community | May 2017 Conservation Milestones Fortunately, Barn Owls have responded well to the artificial nest sites, and many local farmers and landowners have been thrilled to have owl boxes and owl fami- lies on their property. Perhaps as many as 70% to 80% of the population in the U.K. now breed in human-provided sites, and the population has increased significantly from its low point. Alongside the wider work, Shawyer coordinates the informal group with Wilkinson. "We now monitor about 2,000 boxes a year," Wilkinson says, "not all of them oc- cupied by Barn Owls, of course, but some of those that aren't are used by Eurasian Kestrels or Stock Doves—both species of continuing conservation concern." In addition to installing and monitor- ing owl nest boxes, their group bands the owls—mostly chicks, but some adults, too—to track their progress. Over the years, the small group has banded more than 18,000 Barn Owls. Derek Stoner: Birding Trail ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– If you build it, the birds and birders will come. Just ask Derek Stoner of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In 2011, Stoner led the effort to create the Middle Run Birding Trail, a one-mile loop hike at the heart of the 860-acre Mid- dle Run Natural Area in northern Delaware managed by the Delaware Nature Society. "Middle Run is a magnet for migrants," Stoner says. "The Middle Run Birding Trail showcases the conservation efforts of dedicated volunteers—many of them bird - ers—who help improve habitat through an extensive reforestation effort that creates prime, early successional habitat for birds." This year, the Middle Run reforestation project celebrates its 25th anniversary, along with some impressive numbers. Over the years, more than 55,000 trees and shrubs have been planted by more than 6,000 volunteers who collectively contributed more than 40,000 hours of ef- fort to improve the land and benefit birds. And what do the birds think of the young forest of native trees—oaks, tulip- trees, sycamores, and more—and thickets of shrubs—viburnums, winterberries, and serviceberries—that thrive along the trail? Those numbers are equally impressive. "More than 175 species are observed annually, and more than 50 species breed within view of the trail," Stoner says. "Prai- rie Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, and Black-billed Cuckoo are just a few of the species of conservation concern that are regular breeders along the trail." The carefully designed trail is easily ac- cessed and great for birding. It takes bird- ers on a tour of five habitat types, offering plenty of good views and featuring num- bered and named trail markers (such as Cherry Tree Island) to orient hikers and designate good birding spots. Every spring and fall, birders come from around the region to experience songbird migration on the trail, as more than 30 species of warblers and large mixed flocks of Neotropical songbirds visit and take ad- vantage of the food and cover in the refor- ested areas. Guided walks during peak mi- gration get people close to the birds, and opportunities such as summer camps, bio- blitzes, and migration watches help spread the bird conservation message. In September 2015, ABA member Bruce Berman of Arizona ticked three Eastern migrant specialties (Least Flycatcher, Yel- low-bellied Flycatcher, and Broad-winged Hawk) on the trail and reached his goal of 600 species in the Lower 48 states. "This story," Stoner says, "hits right at the heart of the stated purpose of the Middle Run Birding Trail since its creation: Con- necting the community to conservation." To learn more about the Middle Run Birding Trail, visit middlerun Volunteers from Bank of America plant native trees and shrubs along the Middle Run Birding Trail in northern Delaware. Photo © Derek Stoner Peak fall migration brings out flocks of birders to witness the swarms of songbirds in the thickets along the Middle Run Birding Trail. Photo © Derek Stoner Continued from page 16

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