Edge Effect

On the prairies, you’ll find a lot of upland game birds like pheasants, sharptail grouse, and Hungarian Partridge. Other birds too, of course, like robins, meadowlarks, blackbirds, pigeons, and all sorts of hawks.  I watched a large hawk circling, swooping, cruising in search of his dinner the other day. I pitied the poor creature who would become a meal for him, but hawks have to eat too. Any pheasant, grouse, or mouse out in the middle of a harvested field would have nowhere to hide from a hawk–for that matter, from any of their predators. Coyotes, too, are very hard on birds and rodents.

I was thankful for the taller growth at the edges of the  wide open fields. Montana farmers are generous in leaving the borders of their fields as natural as possible.Pheasants and grouse hide in this vegetation when they feel vulnerable and then run out into the harvested fields to pick up bits of grain when they feel it is safe, seldom leaving the edges for long.

010a

Notice the swath of “edge effect” here. This kind of edge between two types of habitat makes a travel corridor possible for many small animals.

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These edges are not only practical for animals to hide in, but they’re pleasing to the eye as well. I know, I know, they’re only some thistle-like prickly flowers gone to seed, but there’s a beauty in that.

??????????

And what is going on with this plant? Is it trying to do a howling coyote impression?

013I would love to know what this plant is, so if anyone has an idea, please speak up in the comments section.

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This spring, and possibly again in mid-summer, somewhere in the high grasses, a hen pheasant chose a spot that she hoped could remain undiscovered for 23 or 24 days, while she laid eggs and sat on her nest.

015It seems she was lucky. After the 23+ days were up, her nest looked like this: another successful hatch.

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The prairies abound in birdlife and much of it is due to local farming practices, the farmers’ awareness of  their surroundings, and their caring attitude towards the upland birds that live there.

16 thoughts on “Edge Effect

  1. Anneli, these are stunning photos! Have you ever considered submitting them to a wildlife/nature photography competition? No pun intended here, but they certainly have an edge. I love this post, thank you!

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    • You have me smiling with vanity, but the truth is, I have a long way to go before my photos are good enough for that. What I do have though, is a wonderful supply of good material for photographing. I’ll keep working on it. Happy you’re enjoying looking at them.

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  2. This is such a great share.. so many times one reads how the farmer is destroying the wilds habitat, and here is proof that they aren’t… loved the photos, as for that plant looking a little like a howling Coyote.. made me think of the Milkweed…

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    • As we know there are many other factors destroying the habitat, and farmers often get a bad rap. Without them our cupboards would be bare, and it’s good to take a closer look before jumping on the band wagons protesting environmental issues. There’s always the other side of the story. So glad you are open-minded. I think farmers know more about what goes on on their land than bureaucrats who haven’t seen a farm in their life and yet are quick to make policy. It’s the same in commercial fishing. I’ll check on the milkweed plant and see if I can compare them. Thanks for the suggestion.

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  3. Hallo, liebe Anneli, nun komme ich auch hier mal wieder vorbei und lasse liebe Grüße da. ♥
    Was das für eine Pflanze ist, das weiß ich leider nicht, aber sie sieht sehr interessant aus. 🙂

    Martina

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