While adult birds and eggs are vulnerable during incubation, they are at even greater risk after chicks hatch. Most of our grassland birds are altricial as chicks, and need to stay in the nest long enough to be reasonably mobile when they fledge. However, chicks are also very vulnerable in the nest: they stay in one place, and the noise and activity surrounding the nest can attract predators. These birds need to balance the benefits of staying in the nest until they are able to fly to forage and escape predators with the potential risks of being found by predators while still in the nest.
Announcing our new Land Trust Accreditation!
Madison Audubon is a non-profit that works to acquire, steward, and conserve land – in other words, a land trust organization. Back in 2012, we made a bold decision to seek national land trust accreditation, a mark of distinction awarded to organizations meeting the highest national standards for excellence and land conservation permanence. This was no easy undertaking. Indeed, of roughly 500 Audubon chapters in the U.S., there is only one other chapter that has received this distinction. We're proud to say that Madison Audubon is now the second nationally-accredited Audubon chapter and among an elite group of other land trust organizations around the country that have received this recognition!
WHAT IS ACCREDITATION?
The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, conducts an extensive review of an organization’s policies and programs. Think of it like an audit of how a land trust does business. It gets deep into the nitty gritty – policies, procedures, record-keeping, finances, governance, land stewardship, and so much more. So we’ve been working diligently to demonstrate that Madison Audubon meets rigorous standards for excellence, accountability, and permanence of our conservation efforts. If you'd like more information about land trust accreditation, you can find it here.
Madison Audubon is honored to continue to protect the land we all cherish, and the species that rely on healthy ecosystems. Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to the many people who helped make national accreditation possible. And of course, we couldn't do any of this work at all without our generous, vibrant donor and membership base -- you are the heart of our work!
A lot of people really dislike - even hate - cowbirds. I get it. It can be hard to watch a small warbler trying to keep a huge cowbird chick fed, and it’s sad when host species eggs get destroyed. But objectively and unemotionally, cowbirds are amazing, smart, resilient, and cool. Their reproductive strategy allows them to produce many more offspring than the average bird. Hopefully by the end of this post, you’ll be thinking about cowbird behavior in a new light too.
Keeping the nest clean is a pretty big deal. Some large raptors are able to defend their nest from nearly anything, so it doesn’t matter how messy they are. Not so for our grassland birds. They are ill-equipped to fight back against most predators, and fare much better when they’re able to go unnoticed. Dirty nests could smell strongly, and attract curious - and hungry! - mammalian predators.
It's been a little bit since we've peeked Into the Nest of grassland birds. But not because of a lack of interesting stuff to talk about! We are working on a run down of everyone's favorite topic: poop; you won't want to miss the upcoming post on fecal sacs.
In the meantime, feast your eyes on these awesome eggs. The size, shape, color pattern are all unique to the species they come from. Learn more about how grassland birds lay their clutch of beautiful eggs in our Into the Nest post from May 31: There is nothing so beautiful as a bird's egg.