Staying Put at Lathrop: Great Blue Herons

by Barbara Walvoord

First published in Lathrop Lamp Post, Dec.  8-14, 2017

Along Bassett Brook the other day, Sharon and I surprised a great blue heron. Though more northerly blue herons migrate, Massachusetts herons stay put.  Their secret is flexibility.

Great blue herons eat mostly fish.  They stand or stroll along the shore or in shallow water, watching for movement, and then spearing the fish with their beaks and swallowing it whole.  They may choke on a too-big fish.

When shallow ponds freeze, a great blue will move to flowing water in Bassett Brook or Pine Brook, and if those freeze, then Continue reading Staying Put at Lathrop: Great Blue Herons

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Staying Put at Lathrop: Red Tailed Hawks

by Barbara Walvoord

First published in Lathrop Lamp Post, Dec. 2-8, 2017

A few weeks, ago, I wrote about barred owls, who stay put here in winter, rather than migrating.  Another bird that stays put in our neck of the woods is the red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). It can stay put because it eats mammals who also stay put during winter, like chipmunks, rabbits, mice, voles, snakes, and birds. But even with the abundance of prey that Lathrop land offers, a red-tail has many problems to solve, and more than half of healthy fledglings fail to reach adulthood.

First problem: FIND the prey.  Red-tails hunt by perching and pouncing.  A hawk has to know that a perch on a pole over a parking lot is less productive than an open field.  A bird feeder is a wonderful Continue reading Staying Put at Lathrop: Red Tailed Hawks

Giving Thanks at Lathrop

by Barbara Walvoord

First published in the Lathrop Lamp Post Nov. 24 – Dec. 1, 2017

At Thanksgiving feasts, family members sometimes take turns saying what they’re thankful for.  So I asked our Lathrop family of creatures:

A chickadee:  Thanks for putting in native plants near the Inn and in some cottage gardens.   I need about 6,000 insects, mostly caterpillars, to raise my brood next spring. I expect you’ve read the scientific findings that I know from experience: the native plants in your gardens will provide many more caterpillars than the old alien plants did.

A hawk:  Thanks for not mowing our Lathrop meadows until late autumn.  When you used to mow in mid-summer, you destroyed the cover for mice, voles, and other creatures that I needed to build up Continue reading Giving Thanks at Lathrop