Monday, March 31, 2008

American Kestrels are beneficiaries of OOS partnership with AEP and The Wilds

Jim McCormac, OOS President, pointing out a commanding hilltop on The Wilds where AEP ReCreation Lands staff will mount an elevated perch for birds of prey. The flag marks a roadside location for a kestrel box pole.

OOS (Ohio Ornithological Society) Conservation Committee members met with AEP (American Electric Power) staff, and staff members from The Wilds to flag locations where AEP will erect recycled utility poles for mounting nest boxes and raptor perches at The Wilds and on AEP ReCreation Lands nearby during the coming weeks.

The three organizations anteed-up, betting the birds will benefit. OOS is covering the cost of quality kestrel boxes manufactured by OOS member, NASA engineer Craig Rieker. AEP will bring in poles and heavy equipment to set them up, and mount the boxes and perches at about 20 locations flagged for kestrel boxes and another ten locations marked for raptor perches at The Wilds and on AEP ReCreation Lands.

Checking out International Road, The Wilds, to locate kestrel boxes and raptor perches at optimal positions. Left to right: Cheryl Harner, OOS conservation committee; Tom Bain, OOS committee chair; Al Parker, Education professional and naturalist at The Wilds; and Jim McCormac, OOS President and conservation committee member. Jim put the pieces in place for this partnership success. Al Parker will help install poles and work the constructions into the fascinating mission of The Wilds.

Birders will benefit, too. Raptor perches located on commanding hilltops will offer large raptors like wintering Golden Eagles a place to perch, in view of birders with scopes. Another project in the works; a birding trail offering birders guidance and enhanced access to The Wilds and to AEP ReCreation Lands' birding hotspots.

Checking out old nest boxes for second life opportunities at AEP's Windy Hill ReCreation Lands facility. Jim McCormac, right; your blogger, middle; and Dave Dingey, of AEP, left. Dave Dingey is making it happen by bringing AEP's resources and manpower to the mission.

American Kestrels are a common bird in decline. This partnership will work to help them remain common by adding nest cavities in the grassland habitat presented by reclaimed surface mining lands. Nest cavities are vital for maintaining the population of American Kestrels. OOS is developing education and research partnerships to study the next box success and bring lessons to light for keeping kestrels common.

Big businesses, from major power corporations like American Electric Power, to agricultural businesses, from family farms to global agribusinesses, are key to future successes in keeping common birds common in our changing environment. As human population grows, increasing demand for food and power worldwide, partnerships must help protect biological diversity. My thanks to AEP for their support of this project, and their many other committed actions toward reclamation, habitat improvement, and outdoor recreation development on the topsy-turvy hills of southeastern Ohio.

A Pleistocene Serengeti: A scene that might have been plucked from the Pleistocene wilds of Ohio just decades after deglaciation, found at The Wilds.

Waterfowl migration is a spectacle at The Wilds and throughout AEP's ReCreation Lands on scores of reclamation ponds. Distant Tundra Swans, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Ducks, American Black Ducks, Red-breasted Mergansers, Hooded Mergansers, Bufflehead, Common Loons, Green-winged Teal, Mallards, Canada Geese, and other species use the many ponds of The Wilds and of AEP's ReCreation Lands nearby during migration.

Cheryl Harner and Jim McCormac looking a bit Lilliputian in the gaping maw of progress, Big Muskie's bucket. This giant scoop turned Ohio's hills topsy-turvy to liberate fossil sunshine: Coal-fired energy powers most North American production. Big Muskie's bucket is exhibited at Miner's Memorial Park near McConnelsville, Ohio.

Big Muskie, a giant drag-line excavator, dwarfs its bucket. The bucket is seen at the end of the cables below ground level in this illustration displayed at Miner's Memorial Park. A series of mounted illustrations walk visitors through the 20th Century history of surface mining in southeastern Ohio.

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