The following letters were posted on Seattle Parks and Open Space Advocates listserve and raise an important issues affecting ground nesting birds in Seattle and other parks.
Subject: Stop the mowing of nesting bird habitat in Discovery Park!
Dear City and Parks Department officials,
For the second consecutive year, we are writing to demand that Seattle Parks Department cease destroying Savannah Sparrows by mowing over their nests on the Parade Ground meadow at Discovery Park. The area is not a golf course, playground, or off-leash dog run. Park facilities managers must be required to consult naturalists on staff to determine appropriate maintenance and problem-solving measures. Otherwise the purpose and goals of the park are undermined – with potentially devastating consequences for years.
The Savannah Sparrow is a small grassland bird that travels from as far as southern Mexico to nest here. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/SavannahSparrow/lifehistory Of those that survive the trip, large numbers of parent birds and their nestlings will die if the mowing in Discovery Park and other park meadows continues. Indiscriminate mowing will also deprive late breeders of nest sites and habitat for months.
We are longtime volunteers at Discovery Park. In fact, we credit the park’s nature programs and the encouragement of its talented naturalists for having turned us into avid birders. We now give back as best we can by participating in the monthly bird census at Discovery Park and helping to lead some of the migratory bird walks each spring and fall.
Discovery Park is a jewel that needs to be managed with educated and informed care to encourage the wildlife and natural habitat. Please intervene immediately to suspend mowing of Discovery Park meadows and to establish a pro-habitat maintenance policy for all city properties.
Helen Gilbert Henry Noble Seattle, WA 98115
Follow up Letter: Savannah Sparrows under attack again!