Tuesday, May 19, 2009

White Ibis Explosion

I've been meaning to check in with you!

The rookery's population exploded since my last mail! Many hundreds of cattle egrets joined the earlier birds. They are the smaller white birds with blond head and chest feathers.  The blond is temporary mating plumage.   You'll see them rooting through the grass for crickets and other insects.

Over 100 white ibises are nesting here this year. They are the white birds with pink curved beaks, pink legs, and black feathers beneath the wing tips. They have been putting on spectacular sky shows, with plenty of rapid formation flying, about half an hour before sunset (between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m.) every day. The best spot to see this is from the tops of the faculty and staff parking buildings.

It is abundantly clear now, from the birds actively sitting on the nests, that those on the periphery of the rookery are getting plenty of use (regardless of the thickness  of the droppings there). The birds are looking well, thanks to the cool weather and rains. No rescue yet.

As far as can be seen, the only thing the university did was to set up a low screen around the little pond. They made the screen more opaque since the initial installation, and the birds seem to enjoy the little bit of privacy.

Plenty of cats still wonder in and out of the woods, though I've never seen one attack a bird.

No shrubs were planted, but
lots of poison ivy came up where the trees were cut! Poetic justice? Maybe. Incidentally, poison ivy seems to cause its blistering skin rashes only in humans. Birds eat the seeds, and goats and deer casually browse the leaves. Do be very careful.

Another unintended development from the tree cuttings: an unusually large number of birders are pouring in from all over Dallas, and even from neighboring towns like Denton and Grapevine, to observe the birds and grouse about the hatchet job of last February. I saw one woman actually in tears over this. All watched the TV reports or read the Aubudon thread.

The completion (in a few days, I expect) of the new interpretive signs for the rookery should be a good occasion to contact the university and ask what they've been doing to keep their promises.