Tuesday, July 30, 2013


        Minnesota has more golfers per capita than any other state in the country! So we definitely want to make our golf courses look nice. Phalen Golf Course is no exception. As a course being in the middle of such a important and beautiful city, Phalen Golf Course provides a unique challenge in our mission to restore St.Paul. We can't add many trees, they would get in the way. We also can't remove some grass or paths, it would be hard to get to your ball. One solution that we did come up with however is to improve the three main bodies of water that most of us try to aim away from. In a collaborative effort between the natural resources team, the Phalen Golf Course maintenance crew and the Youth Job Corps we are in the process of "naturalizing" the ponds. Doing so helps integrate nature into what is generally looked at as an urban setting. As we complete the project and the sites develop, the newly created shoreline and wetland areas will provide habitat for insects, frogs and other creatures, help clarify the water and prevent erosion around the banks as well as create more natural barriers and boundaries.
        Our first step was to remove the standard grass that was around the edges. This was the easy part because we were able to use a basic herbicide to create a definitive line. This may not look the prettiest right now but we just have to give it time. For the next step, which is where we are now, we enlisted the help of the Youth Job Corps to assist us in planting around 1600 per pond. Thats more than 6000 plants! The plants themselves are divided into two groupings; the transitional plants which stay in or near the water and the upland plants, which require dry soil! The plants are  diverse mixture of native sedges, wildflowers and grasses. Over the winter, with the ground frozen, a backhoe will be contracted to help dredge or dig out the water basins to remove some of the muck and make the depths more uniform.
        With a couple years of hard work, dedication and a little luck, your tee shot on Hole 12 of Phalen Golf Course with fly over a beatiful shoreline of flowing grasses, vibrant wildflowers and maybe even a turtle on a log!

Como Park Bluebird Trail Update: July 24th

July 24, 2013

 Post contributed by Sharon, volunteer Blue Bird Trail monitor

      Eight bluebirds and two tree swallows fledged since my last update July 11.
   There are now three boxes occupied by bluebirds:  one with a newly-built nest, one with four blue eggs, and one with five newly-hatched bluebirds.  The parents of those five little bluebirds aggressively swooped and clicked their wings at me as I checked their box.
      I removed house sparrow nesting materials from three boxes, and four boxes are empty.
            The wren flew out of its box, so it is still in use.

Fierce adult Bluebird mid-swoop.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Como Park Bluebird Trail Update: July 11th

Post contributed by Sharon, volunteer Blue Bird Trail monitor:

Three bluebirds, just over a week old,
and an unviable egg.

Eight chickadees fledged in the past week and their box now joins three others empty on the trail.  A fifth box is empty after I removed a house sparrow nest from it.
      Four bluebirds and two tree swallows will fledge sometime in the next week.
      One box has three just-over-a-week-old bluebirds inside (and one unviable egg), another has one nearly-two-week-old bluebird.  There are five bluebird eggs in the box by the downed ash tree.
      Wrens are still occupying the last hanging box.  It is possible they’ve begun a new brood, since they nest once or twice a season.  Anyway, they are not done with the box yet.
      So far this year the trail has fledged a total of 14 bluebirds, 12 chickadees, and 5 tree swallows.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Como Park Bluebird Trail Update July 5th

Post contributed by Sharon, volunteer Bluebird Trail monitor:

The park was in good condition after the July 4th holiday this morning.
      Five tree swallows fledged last week and I cleaned out their messy hanging box.
There are two nearly-two-week-old tree swallows in another box—both parents swooped at me as soon as they discovered me checking the box.

Three newly hatched bluebirds

      Four boxes are now occupied by bluebirds—one has four nearly-two-week-old youngsters; another has three newly-hatched bluebirds and one egg; another, one less-than-one-week-old bluebird and one most likely unviable egg; and the last, a newly built bluebird nest that marks the beginning of the second round of nesting this season.
      The wrens are still tending their nest of young, who should fledge soon.
      I did not open the box with the eight chickadees this week.  They should also fledge soon.
      Two boxes are now empty, and I removed a house sparrow nest from another.

One of four two week old bluebirds