Birth Announcement: Four robins were born on the porch of the Collins Learning Center Friday
Several weeks ago, we hung a spring wreath beside the front doors of the Collins Learning Center at Crossroads. Within a few days, a pair of robins had built a nest on the wreath and the female laid four eggs. On Friday, they hatched. So now the pari will have to feed the babies. We have plenty of worms, but some of our other birds may have more problems.
Entomologist Doug Tallamy has changed the way we think about food webs. He explained his ephifany: “I noticed a rather striking pattern. The alien plants that were taking over the land—the multiflora roses, autumn olives, Japenese honeysuckle, Norway Maples [we could add buckthorn]—all had little or no leaf damage from insects, while the red maples, black cherries, oaks and willows had obviously supplied many insects with food….
“If our native insect fauna cannot or will not use alien plants for food, then the insect populations in areas with many alien plants will be smaller than insect populations will all natives.
“This may sound like a gardener’s dream: a land without insects! but because so many animals depend partially or entirely on insect protein for food, a land without insects is a land without most forms of higher life….. and .the terrestrial ecosystems on which we humans all depend for our own existence would cease to function “
This time of year we think about nests full of baby birds. Baby birds must be fed protein-rich insects in during their early development. A yard which is mostly mowed grass and ornamental non-native plantings creates a situation which we could describe as “food insecurity” for birds and other wildlife.
A video of Tallamy’s lecture will be screened on Saturday from 2:00-4:00.
At the May meeting for the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society, the program will explore that tantalizing question “Are we alone in the universe? ” In 2003 Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson gave a series of lectures in the Great Courses Series called “My Favorite Universe”. In one lecture he explained, “Life as we know it requires water. We don’t know if that is a universal need.”
Tyson continued, “Hollywood is embarrassingly unimaginative in its portrayal of the diversity of aliens. Most of its creations have arms, legs, heads fingers and so on. These aliens are basically identical to humans. Life on other planets should look as different compared to humans as other life forms on our planet look in comparison.”
So how diverse is life on Earth? The DPAS lecture on Tuesday, May 5 at 7:00 will discuss “Extremophiles“, organisms that live on Earth in conditions so extreme that is hard to fathom how they survive. Researchers have found organisms living in strong acids, harsh alkalines, and in places without oxygen. Some creatures survive intense heat, or in temperatures far below freezing or under unimaginable pressure. So the current question seems to be, if even on Earth, we have life in extreme conditions, might there be life on other planets or on the moons of other planets? And is water necessary for all life? Visitors are invited to attend, and also catch up with the “Latest in Astronomy” presented by Tom Minihan. The program will be held at the Stonecipher Astronomy Center, 2200 Utah Street.
Crossroads at Big Creek is a donor support preserve welcoming learners of all ages to programs in science, history and the environment. The Collins Learning Center, located a 2041 Michigan in Sturgeon Bay, is open 2:00-4:30 and during scheduled events. Trails, at our original preserve, Big Creek Cove, and the Ida Bay preserve are free and open to the public.
Saturday, May 2 , 2:00 Video: “Bringing Nature Home”
Entomologist Doug Tallamy discusses the importance of native plants in improving wildlife habitats. Lecture hall, Collins Learning. Free and open to the public.
Tuesday, May 5
7:00 May Meeting of the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society
Visitors are encouraged to attend the meetings of DPAS. Tom Minahan will present ” Latest News in Astronomy” and Coggin Heeringa will offer “Life at the Edge: Extremophiles.”
Refreshments. Meet in the Stonecipher Astronomy Center, 2011 Utah. (turn left at the Cove Road intersection and follow Stargazer Trail to Crossroads’ Astronomy Campus.