Monday, June 27, 2011

Calendar: Hunting Deer, Hunting Herons

backyard deer
Photo credit: Art Poskanzer
There was a flurry of activity on our local listserve this week because someone apparently shot a deer in a neighbor's backyard, uninvited. While this raises some seriously alarming safety issues in the neighborhood, the fact that three deer were looking for food in the backyard in the first place points out a more widespread problem: deer are crazily overpopulated in the DC metro area. They're browsing local forests so badly that it's hard for the trees to reproduce and for the understory plants to survive at all...which affects not just the plants but the animals that depend upon them.

On that note, this Tuesday, the Maryland Native Plant Society's monthly meeting will include a presentation by Eugene Meyer, science advisor for a deer management project at Jug Bay Wetland Sanctuary. Gene will discuss solutions to over-browsing and efforts to track the recovery of local areas. Free, at the White Oak Library at 7:30.

The Arlington parks system is sponsoring a different type of "hunting" this Saturday...tromping around near the Chain Bridge looking for all three local species of heron, in their "Hunting Herons" trip at 4:00.

There's more on our isn't back up to its former glory since I got overwhelmed by a big project at my day job, but it is repopulated with events from several local nature centers and other organizations -- including some really good looking Sierra Club hikes. Check it out.


Alex said...

Hi, great blog! Just wondering: what are the three species of herons that are native to the area? I've been fishing down at the Chain Bridge and in the last week I've seen great blues and what I assumed was a night heron (and about 200 juvenile turkey vultures. This page:
lists a bunch of native herons, including tricolored and various bitterns and egrets.

Elizabeth | The Natural Capital said...

Better birders should correct me if I'm wrong here, but I think the most common birds in the DC area with "heron" in the name are great blue, black-crowned night, yellow-crowned night, and green herons. So already that's over 3 species. I think tricoloreds stick closer to the coast. And you're right, the larger heron family includes birds that don't have "heron" in their name but are clearly related. Cornell's All About Birds has a list of bitterns, herons, and allies.

And 200 juvenile turkey vultures! Seriously? That would be quite a sight!

Alex said...

Thanks for the clarification. The smaller heron that I saw (actually over on the C&O between the observation deck and the parking area) may very well have been a green. Very attractive bird, sitting motionless on a branch.

200 is a major exaggeration, but there were probably more than a dozen all around on the south side of the observation deck. I didn't realize that they flocked like that. They are freaky looking birds.

Whitney said...

Thank you for describing so well the need for hunting as a management tool to improve wildlife habitat and biodiversity. I appreciate your posts and read them regularly.

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