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Bob,  Thanks for sharing information about Shirling's book.  I bird Swope
Park frequently since it is close to my home.  I am not nearly as rigorous
in my observations as Mr. Shirling, but I suspect the following warblers and
vireos to be nesting in the park.

Northern Parula
Yellow-throated Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler
Louisiana Waterthrush
Kentucky Warbler
Common Yellowthroat

White-eyed Vireo
Yellow-throated Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo

Scarlet Tanagers and Wood Thrushes are still present in numbers.  It is a
reliable location for Chuck-will's-widows.  I will almost always see
Pileated Woodpeckers if I spend a couple of early morning hours in the park,
I have seen as many as five in one day.

Cooper's Hawks and Broad-winged Hawks have returned after not seeing them
for several years.  I speculate that their return coincided with the closing
of a nearby landfill, and the corresponding drastic reduction of crows in
the park.

Unfortunately the Coneflowers and their prairie habitat succumbed to a golf
course.  Habitat for Blue-winged Warblers and Yellow Breasted Chat probably
met a similar fate. In years of tight city budgets, the grass grows tall
enough to attract Eastern Meadowlarks.  If it is too short for the
Meadowlarks, Canada Geese enjoy the same area.

Don Arney
Kansas City


----- Original Message -----
From: "Robert Fisher" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, March 07, 2003 8:30 AM
Subject: Birds of Swope Park


> Terry Swope has kindly sent to me a copy of "Birds of Swope Park," by
Albert E. Shirling, written in 1920. It makes fascinating reading, and I
intend to post comments about it from time to time it for the interest of
birders who live near Kansas City in both states.
>
> Two things immediately struck me when I opened the book. The first was a
statement by Shirling that Swope Park is in "the extreme southeast part" of
Kansas City, MO. The second was a picture of  a large group of Purple
Coneflowers growing in the "native prairie." Later on he refers to a vista
of rolling hills visible from one place in the park. Swope Park seems right
now to be right in the middle of a metro area that has been developed for at
least a dozen miles in every direction. The prairie, the vista of rolling
hills and the Purple Coneflowers are all gone.
>
> Of especial interest to me are the changes in bird  life there. He found
12 species of warblers and 5 of vireos nesting in  the 1300-acre park. The
numbers in his census are limited to male birds only (female birds being
less in evidence during nesting), by which he evidently estimates the number
of breeding pairs. Consider the following total numbers of male birds
tallied in his census:
>
> Kentucky Warbler                                                      74
> Wood Thrush                                                             55
> Cerulean Warbler (the 2nd most common warbler!)       34
> Acadian Flycatcher                                                    27
> Scarlet Tanager                                                         22
> Worm-eating Warbler    (4th most common)                 21
> Yellow-breasted Chat                                                 18
> Blue-winged Warbler                                                   17
> Redstart
17
> Oven Bird
7
> Cooper's Hawk                                                            3
> House Wren                                                               1
>
> Birds not listed in the census, but expected to be found today, include
Wild Turkey and Pileated Woodpecker. One warbler that does nest locally in
northwest Missouri, but which Shirling did not find nesting in the park, is
Yellow Warbler. No willows, I suppose.
>
> It is also interesting to note that some species I had believed did not
range to our area (e.g. Blue-winged Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Cerulean
Warbler) are now being found at Weston Bend S.P. in Missouri, and at
Leavenworth, immediately across the river from it in Kansas. Shirling's
census suggests that we are not outside the traditional  ranges of these
species! We just have so little habitat remaining for them that they are
very hard to find.
>
>
> Bob Fisher
> Independence, Missouri
> [log in to unmask]
>
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