Who’s top bird at your feeder? An interesting thing to observe while you are identifying birds is who is displacing whom at the bird feeder. This displacement behavior in birds is called a “dominance hierarchy”. For instance, we think of doves as peaceful and jays as aggressive. Cornell Lab of Ornithology set out to study displacement behavior at feeders, to see who comes out on top in bird interactions. Project Feeder Watch participants have been gathering the displacement data.
Eliot Miller at Cornell Lab correlated 7,685 observations sent in by Feeder Watchers. In general, he found what one would expect, bigger is better. Blue Jays displace mourning doves and downy woodpeckers displace tufted titmice. But there were also some surprises.
The Project Feeder Watch Blog of October 9, 2017 reports on Miller’s study of 136 species of birds observed interacting at Feeder Watch sites in North America. Miller ranked each species based on how often it displaced other species, and how often it got displaced. Then he arranged all those species in their order of dominance. The highest- ranking species, the toughest bird, was the Wild Turkey. At the bottom of the list was the Eurasian Tree Sparrow. Eurasian Tree Sparrows, an introduced species which lives in parts of the mid-west, is closely related to our much more aggressive House Sparrows. read more…
Important Land Conservation CPC funding requests at Annual Town Meeting
Abbot Elementary School Gym
Saturday, March 24th, 2018 starting at 10 am
A request to fund the conservation of two historic, beautifully diverse and undeveloped properties are on the warrant at this Saturday’s Town Meeting.
CPA Funds are being requested to:
Secure a permanent Conservation Restriction for 45 acres of the existing Salt Box Farm property at 1 Wright Lane along Hildreth Street.
Purchase of the Adams property, approximately 50 acres of open space property between the Cider Mill Conservation Land and Laughton Farm open space off Lowell Rd which would connect with approximately 56 acres of already conserved property. This is an important addition to the protection of part of the Stony Brook watershed which can impact our groundwater aquifers (used for our drinking water wells)
The trust urges you to support the preservation of these very important properties, which will contribute to maintaining open space critical to the natural character of Westford. Please attend Town Meeting and vote to support the protection of these two properties as part of the CPA funding request on Article 13.
The Board of Directors for the Trust has voted unanimously to support both these CPA funding requests.
Westford Conservation Trust
The Community Preservation Committee (CPC) funded stone wall restoration project at Pageant Field on Hildreth Street is underway. Dave Tibbetts, of New England Landscape Design, is a stone mason who is doing the work. Dave is on the left in the picture. For this WCT project, several hundred feet of the wall is scheduled to be repaired and rebuilt to look as it did historically at the time of the Westford 200th Anniversary Pageant there in 1929. The trust mission to preserve and protect open space and natural resources also includes historic sites.
The photos are an example of what has been accomplished so far this year. A double treatment for poison ivy control and brush trimming was necessary last fall before the actual wall restoration effort could start.
Thanks to trust board member Dave Ebitson, six bird boxes have been installed at Pageant Field on the Westford Conservation Trust property at Prospect Hill (off of Hildreth St). The boxes built by Dave are designed to attract Bluebirds and Tree Swallows.
Of all the winter birds, seeing a snowy owl is the most exciting to me. We don’t see them in Westford; the habitat just isn’t right for them here, they are tundra dwellers. But, I have been lucky enough to see them on Plum Island and at Salisbury Beach most winters. Some years are better for seeing snowy owls than others. This winter is shaping up to be good snowy owl viewing, and I encourage you to make the short trek to the coast to see them. Seven snowy owls have been reported at Plum Island this January and February.
Snowy owls are one of our largest owls and are fierce predators with large strong talons. They weigh about 3.5 pounds, and have a wingspan of 4.5-5.5 feet. As in most raptors, females are larger than males. They eat mostly rodents, but have been known to successfully take down prey as large as geese and great blue herons read more….