In mid-Ohio we have seen a whole suite of birds responding to the forces of change: grassland birds. These birds have been scattered by the relentless forward march of progress. Their numbers have been reduced by loss of habitat, change of farming practices, global pressures, and now even a changing climate is getting in on the act.
|What's a baby Bobolink to do?|
|Ohio has lost 99.9 percent of its native prairies.|
Nearly all of Ohio's grasslands have been converted to farmland, or urbanized. Of that farmland, what percentage is suitable for grassland birds? They can't make it in a mono-culture like corn or beans. A hay field would work, as long as it isn't harvested or mowed before the fledglings leave the nest in July.
|Ohio farmlands in early July.|
And if all that wasn't enough, grassland birds are now getting a sucker punch from climate change. Have you noticed extreme weather being reported in the news? How are grassland birds responding to the massive droughts in the west? We know someone who has been pondering all those questions...
|Michael Godfrey, bird videographer and his best friend Benson.|
This "old boy" from Virginia can turn a phrase until it squeals for "Uncle!" He is an entertaining story-teller and a darn good author as well, with several published books to his credit. His blog is called Birding on the Farm. You'll want to see his most recent entry, which includes excellent footage of a Mourning Warbler in full song.
Godfrey* is a deep thinker and an inquisitive guy. He's full of questions and just has to know "why". What birds are doing and eating should be just as important to us as their color, shape or plumage. Behavior is key to truly learning about birds and Michael likes to look at the big picture, so to speak.
*He has also been known to carve out a tune on a Dobro; he claims to have several outstanding warrants for that particular musical offense.
|Audubon VideoGuide filmed by Michael Godfrey|
I'd love to introduce you to my friend Michael. He is going to give his program on grassland birds and climate change the night before the Bobolinks at Byers Woods event. If you would like to join us for the whole weekend, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send along the form for you to sign up.
Hope to see you there!