birds or butterflies?

Ron Gatrelle gatrelle at
Tue Jan 22 00:42:37 EST 2002

----- Original Message -----
From: "Rudy Benavides" <rbenavid at>
To: <don.benson at>
Cc: <leps-l at>
Sent: Monday, January 21, 2002 9:51 PM
Subject: Re: birds or butterflies?

> Don,
> I monitor a few nestboxes at a location that has a 70 box trail and is
> approx. 13,000 acres in size.  As Norbert pointed out, the biologist
> responsible there has also deemed the place to be at capacity for nest
> boxes. The main competition for nesting boxes here has always been
> bluebirds and tree swallows, but with a smattering of a few other sp. of
> cavity nesters for occupants.  After a brood fledges from the nestbox we
> remove the old nest left behind.  Since we record information on broods,
> also check the nest contents for things like unhatched eggs, dead birds,
> etc. which may remain buried at the bottom of the nest.  I usually find
> debris of stuff left behind to be interesting as well.  This year I had a
> combination of tree swallows and bluebirds occupying the boxes that I
> after.
> Rudy
> Maryland
> -----------------------------------------------------
> >From: "Don Benson" <don.benson at>
> >Reply-To: don.benson at
> >To: leps-l at
> >Subject: birds or butterflies?
> >Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2002 15:28:14 -0800
> >
> >A group of us are trying to enhance a 14 hectare site in Richmond,
> >Columbia. The birders are putting up bird boxes for tree swallows.  The
> >butterfly people are trying to attract butterflies by planting larval
> >foodplants and nectar plants. Eventually we hope to introduce anise
> >swallowtails and purplish coppers to the site.
> >
> >Will the tree swallows eat the butterflies?  Are we working at cross
> >purposes by putting up bird boxes in an area where we are trying to
> >habitat for butterflies?
> >
> >Don Benson

I had composed a 4 to 5 paragraph response to Don's post.  The first part
was editorialish and the second half specific to his situation and
question.  I deleted the whole thing.  Too easy to be controversial I
guess.   I will venture out just a bit.

If it were me the first thing I would do is make an inventory of _all_ the
biota that is already there (perhaps this has already been done).   I would
then look to see how I could best eliminate the exotics that are not part
of its natural state.  I would not want to "enhance" or biotically
reconfigure an area if in the process something native was loss in the
process.  I see no point in grooming an area for a pretty  butterfly if in
the process a species of slug, or mite, or thorny plant is lost.

What a blessing to have access to 14 hectares.  It should be managed to
benifit all life there.  If in that regimine other things can be introduced
or drawn to the area ( like the butterflies and bird mentioned) without
hurting that to which it is already home,  more power to ya.



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