Nature Notes

Written by Tolly Beck
Tolly Beck is the horticulturist at Lasdon Park and Arboretum in Westchester County. She was formerly a horticulture educator for New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland, NY.

The Birds at Lasdon

    Fourteen baby bluebirds were banded and fledged at Lasdon this summer, as part of Sandy Morrissey’s Eastern Bluebird Project.   The intestinal parasite problem has passed, and it was great to see the bluebird population building at Lasdon once again.  It was a difficult start to the nesting season for the bluebirds as well as other nesting birds as the weather remained cold for quite an extended time.  The birds adjusted and postponed egg laying until there were sufficient insects about to feed themselves as well as their future nestlings.  A male bluebird parent was recaptured at one of the nesting boxes and we discovered that he had been banded previously at Lasdon in 2017 as a nestling.  It was so nice to know that he had returned to Lasdon with his mate this past summer to start a family.    

    On a visit to Lasdon these days you may find a few more bird feathers on the lawns, trails, and pathways.  Many birds, especially those that migrate further south for winter, finish their molt in September and early October.  During a molt, all (or many) of a bird’s feathers are gradually replaced with new ones.  Molts often vary among bird species, but molting usually occurs after birds have finished nest building in spring and raising their families in summer. Their new feathers replace their tattered, worn feathers and better equip the birds for their winter migrations as well as provide increased warmth if they are year-round residents.    

    Many of our local birds do remain in the area.  Cardinals, titmice, chickadees, woodpeckers, goldfinches and many of the bluebirds can be seen at Lasdon throughout the year.   Autumn is an especially beautiful time to visit as the woods begin to fill with colorful leaves in shades of red, orange and yellow.  You will often see movement of the leaves in the small trees and the shrubs as the birds take advantage of fruit that has recently become abundant.  Come and enjoy the beauty of the harvest.