Wanna go for a walk? The trails at Kirkwood Preserve, in Newtown Square, PA, meander through 83 acres of mostly grassland; an open countryside that provides important habitat and resting areas for birds. We discovered this preserve on the way to my 94-year old grandmother’s house (assisted living facility, actually.)
It’s all about the birds here (although I didn’t get any good pics-only had my iPhone.) Kirkwood Preserve is home to many declining grassland species, including the American Kestrel, Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Vesper Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Northern Harrier, and Barn Owl. The Willistown Conservation Trust employs many strategies to protect Kirkwood’s grassland birds.
We did see a few hawks circling high above, being chased by small brave birds. The smaller birds form their own Neighborhood Watch, chasing the larger predator birds away from their territory. (Red-winged blackbirds do this.)
The preserve also features equestrian trails, a half-mile stretch of the Crum Creek, approximately 21 acres of wet areas, and 1.5 acres of upland and riparian woodland.
There was a lot of milkweed growing, the pods still green. I’ll come back in early autumn to look at the milky fluffy stuff that comes out of the cracked pods (used to make fibers for ropes and cords, etc.)
Although milkweed is known to contain cardiac glycosides that are poisonous to humans and livestock, that hasn’t stopped people from using the plant medicinally in a number of ways, from laxatives to producing postpartum milk flow. It’s unique qualities are also an aid to the Monarch butterfly. From USDA plant fact sheet: “The cardiac glycoside in milkweed has also been useful as a chemical defense for monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus). Chemicals from the milkweed plant make the monarch caterpillar’s flesh distasteful to most predators. Monarch butterflies are specific to milkweed plants; this is the only type of plant on which the eggs are laid and the larvae will feed and matures into a chrysalis. Eggs are laid on the underside of young, healthy leaves.”
- We’ll be back again soon, to look for birds and butterflies, and whatever else we can find. This land is protected from development forever, and is recognized by Audubon Pennsylvania Area (IBA) as an Important Bird Area (IBA.) Visit if you can, but remember, no dogs allowed – dogs are viewed by birds as predators.