My wife and I have been occasionally monitoring 5 Western Kingbird nests near where we live this year. All five are doing well as of today - 6/18/12. All five have chosen utility poles of some sort for their nests. All five have chosen to adapt to some of the most polluted areas in the city along the Mississippi River, as well as areas most heavily trafficked by trucks, trains and other transport/hauling methods, even barges off the river. Four could be viewed well enough to see three young in each nest. One pair had to relocate, but they did so quickly. They seem on a later schedule with no viewable young. The nests span from 2nd and Sydney, the pair at Grand and Hall near MSD, the pair near Adelaide and Hall near Pittsburg Pipe, another pair at Thatcher and Hall near a St. Louis Corrections Medium Security Facility, and the pair just north of Hall and Riverview near a mysterious salvage place where it seems mostly old tires are dumped, but some other scarier stuff as well.
We are sure there are many more nests. What is fascinating are the incredibly numerous Mockingbird, Eastern Kingbird and Oriole nests - as well as Eurasian-collared Doves - and all the invasive plant species taking over the river's edge and any scrap of space around these industries. You have to be adventurous to bird these areas. It can be unnerving to encounter mounds of coal blown by strong winds that cover you with coal dust, ADM grain bins, salvage yards and their odors, junk yards of all kinds (there really is a place that port-a-potties go to die), trucking companies, MSD, steel yards, Proctor and Gamble Manufacturing and numerous other mysterious industrial, er, warehouses emanating who knows what. Basically a wasteland, literally.
In other words, these Western Kingbirds are amongst a group of some of the toughest birds. I once read an article called "Planet of the Weeds: Tallying the Loss of Earth's Animals and Plants" by David Quammen, where the author hypothesized that after all the invasive species have their way with the planet, along with the currently occurring mass extinction and extensive human population growth and development, we'd end up with very few species left, one possibly being humans (due to our adaptability- hmmm - making us a weed?). See article link:
I think the Western Kingbird might be one of those left.
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