Gravel Delivery!

Several people have spent the last six months planning Amos Butler Audubon Society’s Wings Over Indy project. Now that it is April 2011, it is time for action! A number of volunteers will be working diligently over the next six months to bring Wings Over Indy to reality. The project will provide artificial habitat for Common Nighthawks and Chimney Swifts, both urban bird species that are experiencing population declines. We will also be enlisting Central Indiana residents and schoolchildren to help with conservation efforts. And, we will be providing hundreds of students in Indianapolis Public Schools with hands-on conservation experience.

None of this would be possible without a grant from TogetherGreen, an alliance of Audubon and Toyota, and the collaboration of several partners. Partners include Ross Brittain with National Audubon Society, Butler University’s Center for Urban Ecology, Indianapolis Public Schools, Indy Parks and Recreation, the Indianapolis Department of Natural Resources, Marian University, and Central Indiana Land Trust. Wow, what a stellar group of partners! People at TogetherGreen, like Flo, Judy, Melissa, Elizabeth, Rebekkah, and others have been incredibly helpful providing assistance to the Wings Over Indy team. Thank you everyone!

We’ve already completed many tasks but the project really kicked into high gear on March 31, 2011, when we received a donation of 15 tons of #8 gravel and a half-truck of wood mulch from Brookfield Sand and Gravel.

These materials will be placed on the roofs of approximately 20 buildings and will create 45 nest “pads” for Common Nighthawks. The species adapted to nesting on flat roofs because the old method of commercial roof construction was using tar and gravel. Over the last few decades, the newer method is to use a rubberized compound that is not suitable for Common Nighthawks. By making available additional nesting sites, monitoring the locations, and offering choices for the female nighthawk, we will determine best practices for placing future nighthawk pads. We intend to publish a paper on our research and promote our methods throughout Indiana and elsewhere to have a meaningful impact on Common Nighthawk conservation!

As the Wings Over Indy project progresses, we will introduce our three outstanding interns from Butler University. They are integral to the project. Helping Ross Brittain to oversee the Common Nighthawk component is Madie Podgorski, shown here atop the rock pile. In addition to other tasks, Madie has been lining up schools and other locations where the gravel will be placed. Madie is working towards degrees in biology and education and plans on being a science teacher. She is an terrific team member.

Don Gorney