By: Francesca Claverie, Native Plant Program Manager
This month BRN is happy to report that we have started working with Greater Good Charities to support regional pollinator habitat!
Greater Good Charities is an independent charitable organization devoted to improving the health and well-being of people, pets, and the planet. Greater Good has supported some of our bat and agave work in the past and this year we are starting a new project to increase nectar sources for native pollinators and honeybees in the region.
The Sky Islands contains the highest diversity of not only mammals, but bees, moths and butterflies as well as nearly half the bird species in the United States, all of which depend on plants for food and habitat to survive. Pollinators are critical to the ecosystem because they help plants themselves reproduce through the process of pollination helping sustain our landscapes, support wildlife and the rich biodiversity of the borderlands.
Land degradation, climate change, and habitat destruction all threaten these important plants and animals, but by giving nature a hand by putting plants back into the landscape, we are securing a brighter future for the borderlands. Greater Good is funding 2 acres of flower seeding on some of the land Borderlands Restoration Network rents at our Native Plant Nursery and seed increaser field.
With over 10 years of practice and knowledge in propagating native plants and curating native seed collections for the Madrean Archipelago, the BRN Native Plant Program has developed effective methods for wild seed collection, cleaning and storage that support successful and genetically diverse habitat restoration projects. Our staff have also developed effective methods for producing restoration-quality plants as well as proven planting strategies for arid and grazed wildlands.
Greater Good staff, Brooke Nowak and Steve Minter, came down from Tucson to participate in the seeding event led by BRN Farm and Maintenance Lead, Travis Gerckens, and supported by staff Emmett Rahn-Oakes, Francesca Claverie, and Perin McNelis, as well as volunteer Casey Jacobs. The team worked all morning and the project was finished up by Travis, Perin, and Emmett in the afternoon.
The pollinator seed was hand broadcast throughout the 2 acres that Travis had marked off with flags and after seeding, was raked in by hand. After seeding and raking the area was irrigated with our water tank and nursery truck. The seed is expected to germinate over the spring, but is dependent on late winter rains. If our region doesn’t receive rain in the next month, we will water monthly to add moisture to the soil to support seed germination and pollinator plants.
By: Cholla Nicoll, Borderlands Restoration Lead Technician
The Borderlands Wildlife preserve has many neighbors. One of these neighbors is Borderlands Restoration Network partner, Deep Dirt Farm (DDF). DDF is a permaculture education center inhabiting 34 acres of lush rolling hills and an ephemeral stream. Both local humans and wildlife enjoy this landscape. Recently a mystery burrow was discovered within DDF at the base of an old mesquite tree. Rumors were flying of mysterious sightings of rare animals coming and going from this area. Wildlife trail cameras were employed to solve the mystery!
Even I was captivated by the mystery, what could be living in the burrow? After several weeks of collecting camera data, the mystery was solved. The primary inhabitant was a cottontail rabbit who found its nooks and crannies the perfect hiding place from several critters who would love a rabbit dinner. There are two cottontail species found in the area, the eastern cottontail and the desert cottontail.
Cottontail rabbits rarely make it past their first birthday as most of them are successfully preyed upon, giving life to many other animals. To compensate for such a short life, cottontails pack much living into that first year. Female cottontails can start reproducing at three months of age and can have up to five litters of kits in a year in productive environments. The highest number of young are produced in the spring when forage is plentiful, and cottontails use burrows and lush vegetation to conceal their young. Mothers do not stay near their young to not attract predators, so if you find a baby cottontail, it is best to leave it where you found it and allow the mother to return once you leave. Cottontails get most of the water they need from their diets and happily drink from open water sources if available, but do not need them to survive. Cottontails are most active during dawn and dusk and generally have a home range of around 1 acre.
Rabbits were not the only visitors to the mystery burrow. A curious roadrunner stopped by, along with a gray fox and spotted skunk. Even a white-tailed deer snuck in a picture behind the burrow's tree. If there is a rare mystery animal in the area, it has maintained its secret for now. We will keep monitoring this site, hoping that we may get a glimpse into the cottontail rabbit's short but essential life and any common or rare animals it may attract.
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