Seven Ponds Nature Center

A Nature Sanctuary and Environmental Education Center

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Anybody who has visited Seven Ponds Nature Center has undoubtedly enjoyed the birds that visit our feeders. Throughout the seasons, these colorful and active feathered creatures provide a daily source of wonder and entertainment. From their ability to survive in the harshest winter weather (for those that are winter residents) to their incredible journey during migrations that may take them thousands of miles to and from South America (for those that depart in the fall), birds are simply amazing. And we get the pleasure of watching them at close range through the center’s windows.

But, there is a dark side. Far more regularly than we want to admit, we hear the sickening “thud” of a small bird hitting the window. This often occurs when the birds are startled by a predator or when something causes them to fly suddenly. To birds, the reflection in the window appears to be sky and forest. They fly – very fast – striking the window head first. About half the time this results in sudden death. Sometimes the bird appears momentarily stunned, but then flies off, apparently unharmed. For those birds more seriously stunned, we place them in a large paper grocery bag, folded shut and clipped, and set the bag in a quiet room for about 30 minutes. Often, the bird recovers in this safe environment and flies off when the bag is opened (outdoors, of course!).

Research shows, however, that many window-strike birds that fly off perish within a day or two from brain hemorrhaging. Estimates state that bird-window collisions account for one billion bird deaths annually in North America. It is utterly disheartening to hold a dead cardinal or titmouse in your hand, knowing that this bird was attracted by seed you provided, and struck a window you placed in its path.

People have tried many things to help prevent window strikes, with varying degrees of success. One thing is now known: hawk silhouette decals and other stickers placed on windows simply do not work. Birds are amazing aerialists – they can fly through a gap in the foliage just a few inches wide. And if such a gap exists in the “sky” or “forest” on a window reflection, birds will attempt to fly through it.

One solution is to eliminate any such apparent gap on the window. At Seven Ponds we have begun the process of applying dot stickers in rows to all of our large windows along the side and back of our building. Spaced about two inches apart, these dots appear from the outside to present a near-solid surface to the birds. From the inside, they are visible, but quite unobtrusive. Research has shown this product to be very effective in reducing and nearly eliminating bird window strikes.

We purchased these dots, which come in thin rolls of tape, from a company called Feather Friendly, thanks to a generous grant from the Rochester Garden Club. Applying the dots is a labor-intensive project, which we have not yet completed – but we’re working on it! As a deterrent, they seem to be working very well. We have not noticed a single bird collision on a window where the dots have been applied. We are thankful for each bird saved, as we can continue to marvel at their adaptations for survival and appreciate the joy they bring us.

Stop by the nature center to see these window dots in action and enjoy the spectacle of birds!

Daryl Bernard, Executive Director
Around the Center…

Butterfly Count Results
The results of the annual Seven Ponds Butterfly Count, which was held July 7th, are in! There were five people who took part in the count. Counters recorded 19 species this year and saw a total of 132 individual butterflies. The Monarch numbers were much more impressive this year, with 11 being seen. Beautiful weather joined us throughout the day and many Appalachian Browns and Great Spangled Fritillaries were seen. Excitement was abundant when the first Mourning Cloak was spotted flitting through the trees of Paul’s Woods and Seven Ponds recorded its first ever Silver-bordered Fritillary. The Butterfly Count is open to anyone with an interest in butterflies. Check our next summer newsletter for the scheduled time if you want to participate in the 2019 count.

Monarch Exhibit
If you have done so already, please check out our new Monarch Butterfly exhibit located in the main reception area. We have Monarchs in every stage of their life cycle. Maybe you will even see one take its first flight into the sky when it’s released.

Green Frog has a waterfall!
Come take a look at the newly redone Green Frog exhibit. Now complete with his very own waterfall filter and a deeper swimming area.