Thursday, April 22, 2010

Higbee Habitat Work

Don't be alarmed if you see a tractor at work brush-hogging Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area in the coming weeks. The WMA has the delightful primary purpose of providing food and cover for migratory birds. To that end, the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife conducts periodic field management - such as mowing, disking, and planting - all for the benefit of birds and other wildlife. The long-term gains for birds (and birders) outweigh the short-term disturbance.

In a nutshell, the NJDFW maintains the Higbee fields in different stages of succession, creating suitable habitat for species ranging from bare-dirt-loving Vesper Sparrows to scrub-shrub birds like Blue Grosbeak, while leaving the existing woods largely alone for forest-using species like Worm-eating Warblers or Hermit Thrushes. Planting of several fields with annual food-bearing species like sorghum, native warm season grasses and pollinator-friendly perennials is planned for this spring, after the mowing and disking - although simply tilling a field and letting annual weeds come in isn't such a bad practice for some species, and that will be done in a couple areas.

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