Don’t Mow Them Down

Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)

This was one of about six Western Meadowlarks foraging on the lawn just southeast of the Flare Station. These beautiful birds with their spectacularly colorful breasts are ground nesters. They require grasses or other vegetation to grow tall enough to provide cover. The nests, to quote the Audubon Society text, are

placed on the ground, in areas with dense cover of grass, in a small hollow or depression in ground. Nest (built by female) is a domed structure with the entrance on the side, made of grass stems interwoven with the surrounding growth. Usually has narrow trails or “runways” leading to nest through the grass.

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/western-meadowlark#

The vegetation in this area will soon be tall enough to allow these birds — and other similar breeds, such as the Savannah Sparrow and the Red-winged Blackbird — to start nest building. That is, unless Parks management runs its murderous mowing machines over this area.

This lawn area is outside the dog park (“Off Leash Area”) and no law-abiding dog owner would be inconvenienced if mowing were delayed here until the birds are finished nesting and their brood has matured and taken flight, generally by July 1. There is precedent for deferring grasscutting in this area; in 2019, Waterfront Supervisor Alexandra Endress saved the lives of scores of breeding birds in this area by holding off on mowing until just before the July 4 holiday. That’s a policy decision worth making permanent.

Parks make lives better. Birds make parks better.

Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)

More about them: Cornell Audubon Wikipedia In Chavez Park

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