Posted by: Dan | August 26, 2009

Remaking Habitat From Landfill

Here is a story from my hometown newspaper in the US that I could not help but pass along: Landfill remakes 200 acres as valuable wildlife habitat, by Gary Blockus.

The area already is home to a wide variety of birds and wildlife, and the facility has been adding a variety of bird boxes for different species since 2005, when it first built nine Eastern Bluebird boxes. Two weeks ago, the facility erected a Barn Owl box in a 17-acre cool-season grass field near a bird blind that was built as an Eagle Scout project.

Naturalists are working on identifying a potential blue grosbeak nest, which if found, would be the most northeastern blue grosbeak nest in the country.

One of the bragging points of the nature habitat is a 24-acre warm-season grass area planted in 2007 on a former corn field that includes switchgrass, black-eyed Susans, Indiangrass and a variety of others.

Warm-season grasses are crucial for ground foraging and nesting birds. These grasses reach deep into the ground with their root systems and can sustain extended drought and wintering.

Switchgrass in particular provides ideal cover for ground-nesting birds such as pheasants, although that isn’t the priority of the nature habitat.

So far, the nature habitat has drawn a wide variety of butterflies and birds thanks to the abundant mix of foliage and bird boxes. Local Boy Scouts have built 67 bluebird boxes, three American kestrel boxes and two wood duck boxes.

A recent trip to the facility saw the wood ducks with their beaks in the water and their tails skyward in one of the ponds on the property.

The facility also is home to tree swallows, Savannah sparrows, grasshopper sparrows and other birds, including of course the area’s biggest scavenger, the turkey vulture.


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