Watershed, Fall 2002
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Eight Willow Flycatchers Fledge
at Hedrick Ranch Nature Area

In one the most exciting and encouraging events of 2002, eight southwestern willow flycatchers fledged at the Hedrick Ranch Nature Area (HRNA) this summer, according to wildlife biologist Jim Greaves. This is the first recorded fledging of the flycatchers on the property, which is owned and managed by Friends of the Santa Clara River. The flycatcher's first successful nesting on the river in recent times occurred in 2000 at the Fillmore Fish Hatchery. It appears that efforts to recover this species, which had not nested on the river in decades, are bearing fruit.

The southwestern willow flycatcher is one of four subspecies of willow flycatchers commonly recognized in North America. The decline in flycatcher populations has resulted largely from the loss or degradation of riparian habitats along rivers, streams, and other wetlands where stands of willows, mulefat, arrowweed or other riparian plants are present. Nest parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds are also a factor in the flycatcher's decline. Cowbird trapping programs by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are helping to promote flycatcher recovery.

 


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