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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

American Robin Review

We spent our WHEP meeting reviewing the American Robin for the contest.  After being at the WHEP practice over the weekend, I think we will have a similar format each time we meet.  The idea is to focus on one type of animal each time along with the habitat requirements, management techniques and a scenario that relates to that focal species.

Today that meant learning about the American Robin.  I picked this animal because most of us are familiar with it.  We can all spot a robin with little trouble.  Also, the needs for a robin are straight forward.  We also talked about plant succession...moving through the six stages-bare ground to mature forest.

I think looking at a species plan for one animal at a time is helpful practice that will prepare us for the contest.  We went over the plan together, but everyone was given a little "homework" to create a plan given the scenario.  These will be brought to the meeting next week to be discussed.

This is what we learned today (straight out of our WHEP manual):

General information
American robins use a wide assortment of vegetation types, from mowed grassy areas to forested areas. In urban areas, robins use large open areas and nearby trees and shrubs. Parks, golf courses and lawns in residential areas are attractive to robins. They are found throughout North America, though they may migrate out of northern latitudes during winters with sustained cold and snow. Robins build a nest of grass and mud on a tree or shrub limb, but will occasionally nest on building ledges. Robins spend considerable time on the ground feeding on earthworms,  but also will perch on branches to eat berries, fruit and insects.

Habitat requirements
Diet: insects and worms in warm seasons; soft mast from shrubs and trees in winter; seldom use artificial feeders

Water: require water daily in warm seasons; obtain water from low-lying areas, ponds, even yard irrigation and rain-filled gutters

Cover: shrubs, evergreen trees, and deciduous trees used for nesting and escape; evergreen trees often used for early nests

Wildlife management practices
Manage disturbance: prescribed fire, disking, grazing and mowing can be used to set back succession and improve structure for robins

Mowing: can be used to maintain suitable structure for robins in urban areas (really a part of the techniques above!)

Plant Shrubs: for soft mast; examples might include dogwoods, hollies, golden currant and winter berry 

Plant Trees: both deciduous and evergreen; where nesting sites may be limiting

Water Developments for Wildlife: birdbaths and pans of water can be provided in urban ar­eas; do not place water in areas where cats can catch the birds; cats should be removed

This was the scenario we used:

City Park Scenario
The park manager would like to increase the habitat for the American Robin at the city park.  During recent bird watching events, the numbers have been down from previous years.    The area represented on the map is accurate for current park conditions; however, there are benches not represented along the walking path.  All reasonable solutions are acceptable and cost is not a limiting factor.

Great time for all.  Looking forward to many meetings with this group!

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