01 Jul My Favorite Migratory Bird at Homestead NHP
“In that dawn chorus [of birds] one hears the throb of life itself.” ― Rachel Carson
A common bird that I instantly noticed in the park was the Dickcissel. The Dickcissel goes unoticed due to their distinct call and coloring. Adult males can be identified due to a yellow face and chest with a bold black V and grayish head. Most Dickcissels can be seen perching on stalks or shrubs or foraging for seeds on the ground.
In the summer months, the Dickcissel nests in areas, like our restore tallgrass prairie, to breed. Dickcissel nests can be found near the ground in dense grasses and sedges.
Native grasslands (and restored ones) are essential habitat for the Dickcissel with their food sources being grasses, buckwheat, crops like rice and sorghum, and a variety of insects. Tallgrass prairie is now a rare ecosystem found in the United States because much of this habitat has been converted for agriculture, like plants in of row crops.
Homestead National Historical Park preserves 100 acres of restored tallgrass prairie. The restoration of the tallgrass prairie started in 1939 and is the second oldest restored prairie in the United States. Below three pictures demonstrate what the land looked like before the prairie restoration, shortly after the start of the restoration, and what it looks like today!
Additional Photos Depicting Present Day Prairie at Homestead NHP
Management of Prairie at Homestead NHP
The prairie is managed by the park through prescribed burns and surveys to reduce the amount of invasive species that have found their way into the prairie ecosystem. One invasive plant that I have helped remove is garlic mustard in our woodland area of the park. It is important to protect the native ecosystem from invasive plant species to protect the biodiversity of the plants in our restored prairie and helps protect habitat for birds like the Dickcissel.