I so often hear "experts" state how we are destroying our environment...a broad statement that NEEDS to be debated, but having been out in the "environment" my whole life I've learned a thing or two on my own...from a young kid building tree houses in the windbreak/grove, playing in/around the creek (making my mother crazy worrying), building dams in the creek (that actually withstood floods), watching floods from winter snow melt and spring/fall rain storms, making mud slides on the bank to slide into the water, using inner tubes to float on, hockey & ice skating in the winter, riding bikes and cob fights with friends on that ice, farming the fields adjacent to the creeks (from the plow, to minimum-till, to No-till), spraying weeds so the grasses can stabilize the banks where they slough off and erosion from the old cow paths that went down into the creek, tiling the bottoms and hillsides, managing the CRP strips, and so many more situations.
For 40 years I have maintained a bird house trail along the fences and terraces. During that time I have learned
about the various species of birds we have and also have noticed the number of new bird species that we never had before.
One of these new species for our area are the colonies of Cliff Swallows that have discovered the newer designed concrete bridges that have been replacing the wooden bridges. 20+ years ago I noticed a large flock of birds around the bridges on our bottom road. It wasn't hard to identify them as Cliff Swallows. I got to wondering why they are now using these bridges, and it hit me that nature is resilient and can adapt to natural changes in the environment, and also to changes humans make to the world around us.
I'm assuming the Cliff Swallows discovered that the concrete bridges are as good or maybe better places than the natural cliffs to make their mud huts...water and mud in the creeks and the bridges give shelter to those mud huts, AND generally there are highline wires overhead where they will perch before scouting for flying insects that are almost innumerable to catch and feed to their babies.
The first couple of years the colony moved from one bridge to another...one year they moved to the Willow Creek bridge in Manning, but then moved back to the bridges here on North Manning. This year I noticed some of them were flying around the bridge on the Airport road.
I think one reason they move to different bridges is because the English Sparrow (brought over from Europe by our ancestors), also likes those mud hut nests. They are aggressive and will move in and take over the huts, so the swallows will move to a different location each year.
The difference between a Barn Swallow mud nest and the Cliff Swallow mud nest is, the Barn Swallow nest is a cupped type open on top mud nest, and the Cliff Swallow nest is a completely enclosed mud nest with a small opening facing downward on the top where they enter and exit, but both species are so very gentle and trusting birds.
Ever since I started my bird trail, I have been actively trapping the English Sparrow and European Starling - both species that live here year-round and have done damage to the native cavity nesting bird populations - NO, I do NOT trap and then release them to another area where they would continue to destroy the native birds...
2021 Swallow feature
In 1992, my great-uncle, Herman Grau, passed away. In his will he left a monetary amount to all of his nephews/nieces & grandnephews/nieces.
I decided to use my inheritance to build a 30x30 pond.
I had specific plans for the pond but found out over the decades that Nature had her ways and generally they will decide the final outcome.
It has changed dramatically over the decades, and actually I'm happy with the way Nature decided to use it.
I always could hear the toads and frogs down by the creek but NEVER dreamed that some of them would move from their natural habit to one that I built - HOW can they choose a man-made environment over the natural one - we'll never know...
Some people may associate these sounds to their youth when they watched the scary movies - with these sounds in the fog where a monster is lurking - no monsters here.