Beauty on the Wing
The close-up of the flying sandhill crane [“Showtime!” March-April] is a masterpiece! I have been to see these birds at the Rowe Sanctuary once in my 75 years, and I still love their unique calls. I remember hearing and seeing many small flocks here in eastern Nebraska in the 1930s and early 1940s. They would circle higher and higher. Then they were gone.
The Pale Male and Lola story [“How the Nest Was Won,” March-April] resulted in one happy pair of red-tailed hawks. I see many of these beautiful raptors along the highways. For my part, I have about 40 bluebird nest boxes, which fledge about 200 bluebirds annually. I recently contracted with Wachiska Audubon of Lincoln, Nebraska, to preserve in perpetuity 19 acres of meadowlands from development. This land has been in the family since my great-grandfather started the farm in 1881.
I was delighted to read “Showtime!” [March-April], highlighting the Rowe Sanctuary operated by National Audubon. While the Platte River and the surrounding prairie are a major ecosystem for birds—especially the titanic sandhill cranes—the sanctuary also has proven to be a haven for creatures not so “great.” For example, Rowe is a consistent site for the annual Fourth of July Butterfly Counts, conducted by the North American Butterfly Association. [In this program, modeled after Audubon's Christmas Bird Count, the NABA surveys tally all individual butterflies and species during a one-day period in a single location.] Between 1990 and 2003 the Rowe Sanctuary has produced, on five different occasions, the highest number of regal fritillaries (Speyeria idalia)—a rapidly declining species and the de facto poster child for prairie conservation. Individual numbers have ranged from a high of 358 to a low of 130. Although these statistics have been exceeded in other years at other sites (in 1996, 1,422 regals were recorded at Crane Meadows, Nebraska), the Rowe Sanctuary is obviously a mecca for one of the prairie's most threatened and spectacular species of butterflies.
Gary Noel Ross
Thank You, Pale Male
As a member of Audubon, a great nature lover, and originally from New York City, I told myself, what better cause than saving Pale Male, Lola, and their heirs [“How the Nest Was Won,” March-April]. And so I did all I could to help them. Later I wondered what was behind the strong impetus, for it was more than love. John Flicker answered my question in his insightful Audubon View [March-April]. David Seideman's Editor's Note was very inspiring as well. And it goes without saying that more Rachel Carsons are needed in this country, and in this world.
Don't Forget to Write
© 2005 National Audubon Society