Editor's Desk - July 2007
Find a printable version here

Two in the Bush

Every once in a while, it's nice to get a break from the chilled-recycled-office air that comes with working in a building where the windows never open. So today, I took a walk during my lunchtime down to the Margreth Riemer Reservoir in Palatine, a 91-acre park with a walking trail, a disc golf course, picnic shelter and playground, as well as spots for sledding in winter months.

As I strolled through this little patch of nature nestled along a couple of busy roads, I noticed a handful of birds you don't see downtown: lots and lots of trilling red-winged blackbirds and swallows, but also a couple of mallards that quacked in surprise as I passed their wet nook, and one meadowlark that whistled from its perch among the tall grasses.

As I turned back toward the office and wandered onto more residential roads, this wider variety of birds gave way mostly to sparrows and robins. It's easy to see which birds like to live among humans and which prefer to live separately. Just look out the window.

But as development and other environmental pressures encroach upon our feathered friends' habitats-from grassland to forest to wetland-we may find ourselves missing something. A new study from the National Audubon Society has shown that populations of some of the most familiar American birds have dropped drastically in the past 40 years, with some down as much as 80 percent. And these are common species-birds people used to expect to see regularly as they walked our country's forests and fields.

Among those on the list of Common Birds in Decline are the Northern Bobwhite, whose populations are down 82 percent, the Evening Grosbeak, down 78 percent, the Northern Pintail, down 78 percent, the Greater Scaup, down 75 percent, and, yes, my Eastern Meadowlark, down 71 percent. Several sparrows and the Common Grackle-which I remember plaguing my dad's birdfeeder-also made the list.

While these birds are not facing any immediate threat of extinction, their declines are troubling, because they seem to signal a disturbance in the ecological balance-a disturbance largely caused by humans.

But humans also can help change the course these numbers take, and ensure that some of our most common-as well as some less common-birds continue to provide us pleasure as we hike, walk and enjoy a morning cup of coffee on the back porch.

One example of how people can make a difference can be seen in the once-again growing number of Eastern Bluebirds. Found in open woodlands, farmlands and orchards, this species was in trouble a few decades ago because of loss of habitat, pesticides and competition from non-native species. But birding enthusiasts got involved, constructing nest boxes and monitoring the birds carefully, and their numbers have begun to improve.

If you're worried about the birds, you can visit www.audubon.org for information on how to protect them. Here are some of the steps you may already be taking in your recreational facilities and parks:

  • Protecting local habitats
  • Promoting sound agricultural policy
  • Supporting sustainable forests
  • Protecting wetlands
  • Fighting global warming
  • Combating invasive species

Educate your patrons about what it takes to make a difference. By getting involved now, before these birds truly are threatened with extinction, we can all change the quality of our own lives, as well as the lives of generations to come.

Happy Birding!

Emily Tipping, Recreation Management

Feel free to drop us a line. Any feedback is great; establishing an industry forum for the open exchange of ideas is even better. So don't be shy with your thoughts, opinions and questions. Any topic is fair game, and no query is too big or too little.

Setting the Record Straight

Today I had the pleasure of reading the 2007 Facility Highlight on the Wilderness Wild Waterdome submitted by Architectural Design Consultants Inc. It was wonderfully written, and everyone at ADCI was extremely pleased to see the final piece. However, there were two items that were incorrect on the Associated Firms list:

  • ADCI was the Interior Designer for the Waterdome area, and Plunkett Raysich did the interior design for the restaurant only.
  • Ramaker and Associates Inc. was the aquatics design firm.

If there is anything that could be done to correct these items, it would be greatly appreciated.

Katie Brescia
Architectural Design Consultants Inc.

Editor's Note: We regret the error and would like to take this chance to let our readers know the correct information. The Facility Highlight for the Wild Wilderness Waterdome in Wisconsin Dells can be found on page 66 of the May 2007 issue.