Ground Nesting Birds and Others

We often repeat the protection mantra: please stay on the marked trails. There are several excellent reasons for this. The most obvious is that our feet treading the ground compresses the soil and trample plants. Then, where we walk others will follow: a new trail is born.

Another important reason to stay on marked (official) trails are that many of the natural residents of this nature preserve, all sorts of animals, make their homes in the undergrowth. They can tolerate visitors to their neighbourhood but soon feel threatened when safe areas shrink. These understory residents include Garter snakes, native Banana Slugs, Pacific Chorus Frogs, native terrestrial snails, native Alligator lizards, and Western Red-Backed Salamanders, Rough Skinned Newts, butterflies and moths in various pre-flight stages.

Keeping human and canine feet on marked trails is especially important for the ground-nesting birds in the preserve. These ground nesters are busy preparing nests and incubating their eggs and young. They don’t want to leave their eggs but will do so if we or our dogs venture too close. Every bit of stress they feel reduces their chances for success. This makes the preserve poorer in the long run. Remember, PKOLS – Mount Douglas serves to preserve the natural area and provide a setting for our rest and recreation.

Using an online resource called ebird, a place for bird enthusiasts to record their observations, we can find observations of many birds. Ground nesters include Mallard, Canada Goose, California Quail, Sooty Grouse, Common Nighthawk, Killdeer, Pacific Wren, Dark-eyed Junco, Spotted Towhee, Orange-crowned Warbler, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Golden Crowned Sparrow, and Wilson’s Warbler. Hummingbirds nest low to the ground in the oaks near the summit. Swallows nest in the steep rocks on the south slope. These birds need and deserve a chance to incubate their eggs and rear their young with as little disruption as possible.

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