Reflections on Summer 2012

By Dana Ripper

Quality habitat at Mora Conservation Area. 

A good example of why the MDC and Mo Prairie Foundation continue
their efforts – here, a prairie-native Cream Wild Indigo hangs on in what is
now a corn field bordered by a hedge row.  
Since last summer, we and most everyone we know was praying that summer of 2012 wouldn’t be as bad as 2011.  What a surprise – it was worse!  Record heat, record drought, record number of days over 100 degrees.  On our field projects, we went out daily with all concentration on keeping birds as safe and as little stressed as possible.   Thanks to a very competent field crew on our MAPS project, and to the care and efficiency of our Purple Martin landlords, every bird that 
Devin, me, Ethan, and Jeremy Duncan with all of the
babies from an eight-chick Purple Martin nest at the
Duncans’ Platte City colony. 
passed through our hands was released or placed back in the nest in good condition. 
Overall, the summer’s heat seemed to take a toll on the people more than the birds!  We saw many family groups at our prairie sites, and captured and banded many fledglings.  With few exceptions, Purple Martins arrived, nested, and fledged much earlier than in previous years, thus beating the worst of the heat. 
We had great success with the two aforementioned projects as well as with the series of statewide marsh bird surveys and multi-state grassland bird surveys.  There were also several education events, festivals, meetings, and trainings wrapped up in the past few months.  One of the best parts of the summer was working with our crew of interns, some of whom are staying with us for the fall 
Devin, Veronica, and Daniel return from a net run
at Grandfather Prairie.

Just today, we finished our Annual Report which describes the gamut of MRBO activities from last August until the present.  This can be found on our homepage at
A Second-Year Bell’s Vireo captured at
Paintbrush Prairie.
I think we’re all more than ready for fall and the waves of fall migrants.  One of the things we’ll be able to learn at the fall monitoring stations (there will be at least three!) is the young-to-adult bird ratio of this year’s passerines.  This will give us an idea of just how well our birds fared this summer. 
Coming soon: a brief trip to Scotland to attend a Distance training workshop!  I think this training will be pivotal to MRBO’s ability to design and analyze future survey projects. 

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