Three Masked Visitors

raccoons 3d
Usually we have people coming to our Visitors Center to see the wildlife exhibits or wildife behind the center. Yesterday we had wildlife visiting to see the humans on display. Where these three little raccoons came from and where they were going remains a mystery. We just don’t know who will show up at the preserve.

Birding With the Pros

We had the opportunity to lead a bird watch on Saturday with some pros, which turned out to be a very unique experience! Several members of the Pennsylvania Society of Ornithologists came to the PPL Susquehanna Riverlands in Berwick, PA to enjoy a morning of birding where we identified over 50 species (not including the particularly energetic gray and ground squirrels that joined us). We also travelled to nearby Council Cup to observe Peregrine Falcon activity. These endangered raptors are nesting on the cliff just below the trail that takes you to the top of the mountain that overlooks PPL’s Susquehanna power plant. As we enjoyed the lovely view we were visited by the male and female Peregrines, cacking to one another as they flew around us not 30 yards away. This was certainly a highlight ending to our morning that will not be forgotten!

peregrine_falcon_3[1]

Young and Restless

Fawn052013cropSpring is here in all its glory. The old and drab is giving way to the new and lush. Young birds and animals are testing wings or legs and venturing farther afield from nests and burrows. As they leave the shelter of their hiding places, young animals have many encounters with other species. They learn about finding food and how to avoid becoming food themselves. Sometimes they narrowly escape disaster and sometimes…
We must remember that if we encounter a young animal or bird in our travels, the best approach is to allow it to go its own way. Countless generations of animals have survived quite well without human intervention and will continue to do so. Young animals and their parents know much better than we do how to care for themselves and their offspring. Not that a helping hand once in a while can’t be beneficial. A quick airlift of a box turtle from a busy highway assures it will live to produce many more generations. The honk of a horn to frighten an undecided deer or rabbit from the berm of the road keeps your car and the animal intact.
Yet, when it comes to young animals, we seem to lose all our senses and cave in to a deep-seated maternal instinct. Our need to be good Samaritans, while certainly good intentioned, has very detrimental effects on young animals taken from the wild. Many “rescued” animals survive, but only with proper and almost constant human care. However, the quality of life is drastically reduced for these animals. Chances are they will never lead a “normal” life and may perish suddenly and unexpectedly in captivity. The probability of surviving in the wild on their own is actually very good for young creatures. Parents are usually nearby even though unnoticed, ready to answer distress calls of the young quickly and effectively. Natural food is also close at hand, allowing young animals to feed at will. So, if you find a cute, young animal, resist the temptation to pick it up, take it home and care for it. Confinement to a cardboard box pales in comparison with life in the natural environment. Allow nature’s babies to be young and restless on their own.

Enhancing the Habitat

invasive bush honeysuckle from nps siteIn a cooperative effort between the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Wildlife Management Institute and PPL, invasive bush honeysuckle is being removed from land managed by the PPL Montour Preserve. Bush honeysuckle was introduced to the states from Eurasia as an ornamental shrub, for wildlife cover and for soil erosion control. It grows rapidly and takes over an area, forms a dense shrub layer, decreasing light and depleting soil nutrients. Bush honeysuckle grows in an early-successional forest habitat.

A young forest habitat, or early-successional habitat is required to maintain sustainable populations of many species. American woodcock, ruffed grouse, cottontail rabbit and indigo bunting are examples of the many species that find young growth shrubs and trees suitable. Young forest habitat also provides food and cover for many other species that use a variety of habitats, including ring-necked pheasants, song sparrow and white-tailed deer.

Invasive removal 2013Habitat improvements and maintenance are proposed for existing young forest habitats. To maintain the young forest stage of plant succession, ongoing habitat management practices, primarily periodic treatments, will be completed as needed. A large part of the habitat

Exotic bush honeysuckle is often confused with native honeysuckle species. Most native honeysuckles have solid stems and are an excellent food source for birds. Learn more at the National Park Service’s website. management plan includes the control of invasive species and noxious weeds, like bush honeysuckle, autumn olive and multi-flora rose. All habitat improvements to existing young forest habitat are proposed as enhancements.

To ask your questions, contact us at pplpreserves@pplweb.com.
Find directions to our preserves, program information and trail maps at pplpreserves.com.

Eagle Watching

Bald EaglesBald eagles are more numerous in Pennsylvania than anytime within the last fifty years. That means there are more opportunities to see eagles for wildlife watchers. That watching comes with a price. Get too close to an eagle nest and the disturbance can be enough for the eagle pair to abandon the nest. With bald eagles into their nesting season now be careful of human intrusion near the nest site. We can enjoy eagles, but it is better to do so through good optics. The Pennsylvania Game Commission offers the following etiquette as guidelines for eagle watching to minimize their disturbance:

• Stay back! Keep at least 1,000 feet from an active nest, roost, or feeding area. Use optics like binoculars or a telescope to view the eagles at a distance.
• Quiet please! If you must talk, whisper.
• Cover up! Use your vehicle or boat as a blind; eagles often are more alarmed by pedestrians.
• Be cool! Avoid sudden movements — and movements directly toward the eagles or the nest — while on foot or in a vehicle or boat.
• No flushing! Don’t make the birds fly. Flushing an eagle off a nest may expose the eggs or young eaglets to cold or wet weather or a nest predator. It also wastes precious energy and may cause them to leave a valuable meal behind or abandon a nest that they are constructing.
• Pay attention! Watch how the eagle reacts to your presence — if it acts agitated, vocalizes repeatedly, or starts moving away, you are too close!
• Stay out! Respect restricted zones. They protect eagle nesting areas. And you’re breaking state and federal laws if you enter them.
• Privacy please! Respect the privacy of the landowner. Don’t tell everyone about a new eagle nest. It will attract people to nesting areas who will not use proper etiquette and other unnecessary attention to a nest. If you unexpectedly stumble onto an eagle nest, or hear an eagle vocalizing overhead, leave immediately and quietly.

If you find a new nest, report it to the PGC endangered bird biologist, Patti Barber, including details about location. Her mail is: patbarber@pa.gov. To learn more about bald eagles and eagle-watching in Pennsylvania take advantage of the wealth of information on the PA Game Commission’s web site. See: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=978032&mode=2

Few sights are more thrilling than a bald eagle at its nest or in action along a shoreline. Enjoy eagles but make certain your presence and behavior do not have a detrimental effect on the eagles or their future use of the area. Keep your distance from eagle nests and roosts and eagles feeding on the ground. Respect their space.

« Older entries