NASA Plumbrook Fieldtrip July 9, 2011

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Western Cuyahoga Audubon Society

Field trip to NASA Plum Brook

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Leader: John Blakeman


On a 90-degree day 21 birders stepped into prairie restored to pre-European conditions at NASA Plum Brook.  John Blakeman, our trip leader, described how Native Americans created prairie habitat with fire.  Plum Brook prairies are burned every few years to preserve native species such as Michigan Lily, whorled rosinweed, and many more.  The Plum Brook acreage was acquired by the War Department in 1941 for an ordinance works, before farmers regularly used herbicides. The result is a rich seed bank of native plants in the soil.  The arsenalís 99 magazines formerly used to house explosives now preserve prairie plant seeds as well as NASA documents.  Bird highlights were an Eastern Kingbird harassing a Red-tailed Hawk, many singing Field Sparrows, and a family of Orchard Orioles. We also saw traps for Brown-headed Cowbirds, and learned how cowbirds trapped at Plum Brook helped to preserve Kirtlandís Warbler.


Bird list, 40 species


Great Egret

Turkey Vulture

Cooperís Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk being chased by smaller birds

Rock Pigeon

Mourning Dove

Northern Flicker

Eastern Wood Pewee

Willow Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatcher

Eastern Kingbird

Yellow-throated Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

Blue Jay

American Crow

Tree Swallow

Cliff Swallow

Barn Swallow

Tufted Titmouse

House Wren

Eastern Bluebird

Wood Thrush

American Robin

Gray Catbird

European Starling

Cedar Waxwing

Yellow Warbler


Common Yellowthroat

Eastern Towhee

Chipping Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Northern Cardinal

Indigo Bunting

Red-winged Blackbird

Common Grackle

Orchard Oriole with young

American Goldfinch

House Sparrow

NASA Plumbrook birders © Mary Anne Romito

Michigan Lily
The very rare Michigan Lily. © Marian Kraus
So just how do you keep deer from eating them.

You hang up sacks filled with Coyote fur around the area.
The deer smell the fur and keep on walking
© Mary Anne Romito

John shows us a Red-tailed Hawk feather that just fell off
the bird.© Mary Anne Romito

Prairie grasslands

Deptford Pink © Mary Anne Romito

Tall Green Milkweed
Tall Green Milkweed © Marian Kraus

More Grasslands

Common Milkweed © Mary Anne Romito

Western Cuyahoga Audubon Society, 4310 Bush Ave, Cleveland, OH 44109