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.
Update on the Eastern Bluebirds
Last July I wrote about the deaths and nest failures of the Eastern Bluebirds in Westchester (including Lasdon Park) due to intestinal leisons. There was hope that our long excessive cold spells this past winter would have killed whatever parasite or bacteria that was causing these leisons. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.
According to Sandy Morrissey, the Chair of the Eastern Bluebird Project in Westchester, there have only been 60- 70 nest attempts in Westchester this nesting season. This is well below even last year’s numbers. The decline in the bluebird population this year is the direct result of having so few nestlings that fledged last year. As a comparison, during the last healthy season of 2016 there were 143 bluebird nest attempts in Westchester County.
To date as the nesting season is closing at Lasdon Park, we have only had 2 successful bluebird nest attempts resulting in 6 fledged bluebirds. In past years, the average number of bluebirds that were fledged from Lasdon nests averaged from 18-20. So our numbers here at the park are also well below what would be expected. Hopefully, whatever is causing these deadly intestinal leisons will eventually disappear as often happens during disease cycles. Cornell University is continuing to monitor the situation.
The Year of the Bird, 2018, celebrates the 100th Anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Our most important bird protection law, however, is now under attack. The current administration wants to end the ability to hold industries accountable for bird deaths through legislation now in Congress.
Find out more and voice your opposition. Go to www.audubon.org/takeaction
and click on Defend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.