Menunkatuck works locally to protect and enhance important habitat for birds and other wildlife. We work with DEEP, area towns, land trusts, and schools, and other partners.
At Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison we have worked with the park staff and the Friends of Hammonasset on invasive plant clearing and planting native fruit- and berry-bearing shrubs. We have installed five Osprey platforms, 44 Tree Swallow nest boxes, and six Purple Martin houses. With frequent nest monitoring during May, June, and July, we have seen Purple Martin fledging success go from 25 in 2005 to 173 in 2014 and Tree Swallow fledging success go from 5 in 2005 to 213 in 2014. Each July we work with DEEP wildlife biologists to band Purple Martins with federal numbered bands and state color bands that identify specific martin colonies.
At the Audubon Guilford Salt Meadow Sanctuary in Guilford we work with Audubon Connecticut to reduce invasive plants and increase the number of native plants. With the help of grants from several sources, we planted 440 native shrubs along the 1000-foot long edge of the meadow. In 2014 we have installed 18 Tree Swallow next boxes. We have a Purple Martin house and are using a solar-powered sound system to attract martins to form a new colony. We replaced and repaired bridges on woodland trail along the edge of the salt marsh. We installed an Osprey platform in the marsh.
At Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven we work with the Connecticut Butterfly Association and the New Haven Parks Department on butterfly/hummingbird gardens. We participate in the park’s New Haven Migration Festival each September.
We are a partner in the New Haven Harbor Watershed Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership, one of only eight such USFWS Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships. The partnership has removed invasive plants and installed native ones at several New Haven parks. Six city schools have established Schoolyard Habitats that serve as outdoor learning centers. We assist with teacher training on the use of Schoolyard Habitats. Menunkatuck members have assisted with spring and fall migratory bird surveys and invertebrate surveys at West River Memorial Park and Beaver Pond Park. A long-neglected roof-top garden at Barnard Nature Center has been cleared and replanted with butterfly- and pollinator-friendly plants. Thanks to a grant from the Watershed Fund, Spring 2014 will see the unveiling of streaming video of one of the Osprey nests along the West River.
At Sandy Point in West Haven we are working with the West Haven Shoreline Restoration Committee to remove invasive plants along the perimeter of the parking lot and replacing them with native plants and in establishing a butterfly/pollinator garden. We helped DEEP and the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds protecting nesting areas at Sandy and Morse Points in West Haven. We are consulting with West Haven city officials on the installation of up to eight Osprey platforms at appropriate sites along the shore.
We have been working with the Northeast Connecticut Kestrel Project and DEEP wildlife biologists on radio and GPS American Kestrel tagging. American Kestrels are listed as State Threatened in Connecticut and researchers are interested in how their foraging and migration habits impact their numbers.
We worked with park staff at Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford to replace two Storm Sandy damaged Osprey platforms in the park with our Menunkatuck design platform.
Horseshoe crabs are a source of food for some migrating shorebirds. We conduct surveys of the horseshoe crabs when they come ashore in May, June, and July to breed. Data is shared with Sacred Heart University’s Project Limulus.
Many of the older Osprey platforms in the area have been found to be in danger of collapsing. We are working with local towns, land trusts, and property owners to replace them before they fall with eggs or chicks in the nests.
We have installed monofilament fishing line recycling bins at many sites in the area. Discarded fishing line poses a serious threat to Ospreys and other animals.