Birding at the Pinelands Preservation Alliance
Grasshopper Sparrows, Dickcissels and Purple Martins finding a home on the farm.
By Jeff Tober, Farm ManagerJuly 13, 2021
One of our goals when we launched the Rancocas Creek Farm at the Pinelands Preservation Alliance was to create a farm habitat that produces high-quality food and an ecosystem friendly to birds and pollinating insects. An indicator of our farm’s health is the diversity of pollinators and birds that we see.
And along those lines, we recently had 2 great new arrivals at Rancocas Creek Farm. Our friend Steve Sobocinski, who is a terrific birder, notified us that we had 5 or 6 Dickcissels living at the farm. This oddly named bird is somewhat rare in these parts traveling from the mid-west and south and preferring grassland habitats like the ones we have established here. They are small, precocious little birds with a yellow hue and a sharp, loud whistle-chirp. Their presence has brought six or more birders to the farm every day! You can find them in our meadow and deer fence, and we can point you the way. See a little about them here:
We also have Grasshopper Sparrows. Grasshopper Sparrows are a threatened species that hunt largely by running through grasslands for…you guessed it – grasshoppers. Their numbers are down due to the loss of grassland habitat so of course, we are honored to be hosting them. Here is some cool footage of them:
The other exciting development is the arrival of 10 or so Purple Martins to our white gourd Martin house near the tractor barn on the farm. We erected the house in conjunction with a local ‘Martin Landlord’ Alisa who tends to a few colonies in the area. Martins are fascinating birds. They have coevolved with humans and now pretty much nest only in these specific gourd houses; at least in the Eastern US. They are gregarious, chirpy things that feast on insects and are not terribly scared of humans. Also, they migrate pretty far south (up to 5,000 miles!!) and will return to their gourd community year after year. So, when the first scouts showed up at the farm and were followed by more Martins we were thrilled!! Many thanks to Alisa for spearheading this valuable project.
The property is open Monday – Friday 9 am to 4 pm and our visitor center is open Sundays from 12 noon to 4 pm for July, August and September 2021.