Habitat, habitat, habitat January 01, 2008
In real estate sales there is a saying, "Location, location, location." Meaning the location, i.e. neighborhood, city, surrounding property values, should be the most important factor to consider when buying a home.
Wildlife is much the same way. Many species are so attuned to a type of habitat that you learn to watch for them whenever you find their preferred habitat. Northern Harriers, denizens of grasslands and marshes, are a good example of one of those species. Often called "Marsh Hawks" the site of a Northern Harrier sweeping the tops of waist high grass and forbs has thrilled many winter birdwatchers at The Wilds or Killdeer Plains.
Since locating this field a few miles from my home, the winter visiting Harriers have been a major source of entertainment for me. This morning's driving snow was barely deterring these two on their quest for a mousy meal. Last night's twilight illuminated their evening counterparts, Short-ear Owls. The pine trees beyond this field would be a likely location to find Long-eared Owls roosting as well.
Again and again, we see that botany influences the birds or butterflies you can expect to find. Once you become attuned to the botany, you will become a better birder. And winter birding isn't a bad way for a botany lover to spend their off months. :)