Tag Archives: habitat

In Search of Darkness

Can you still see the Milky Way at night?  It is a beautiful sight; not something to be taken for granted in our artificially lit world.  You look outside and see a dark night; but just a few years ago, Oakridge was an undeveloped 4400 acres, a darker place than it is now.   We have in our power, as a community, to work to keep light pollution down within our boundaries and contribute to our overall environment.

I’ve just finished a new book from Paul Bogard titled The End of Night, Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light.   He covers all aspects of the increasing artificial light, often poetically.   But he raises major concerns about the effects, not only to humans, but to all our wildlife in “five primary areas: orientation, predation, competition, reproduction and circadian rhythms.”

The (John) Bortle Scale of ranking dark skies ranges from 9 to 1.  Texans probably need to drive to Big Bend National Park to get close to a dark enough night to rate a 1, or 2.   A Class 1 is described as “a sky so dark that ‘the Milky Way casts obvious diffuse shadows on the ground“.    http://www.stellar-skies.com/#!thenightskies/c44

It is a more complicated subject than you might think at first glance; an important subject I think.  Maybe as members of the community of Oakridge, we should educate ourselves to the global effort to work with the issue.  And do what we can.     http://www.darksky.org/

http://conservationreport.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/artificial-light.jpg

A quote from Wendall Berry:  “To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.  To know the dark, go dark.  Go without sight and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings, and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.”

Orioles at Oakridge Ranch

Baltimore Oriole at Oriole Feeder; Photo by P.Vretis, Sept.2013.
Baltimore Oriole at Oriole Feeder; Photo by P.Vretis, Sept.2013.

We have noticed both Baltimore and Orchard Orioles here at Oakridge Ranch for the last 2 years.   The Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius) is slightly smaller and darker than the Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula).   The males of both birds are brightly colored and all are somewhat skittish.   Both enjoy nectar offered at Oriole feeders, Hummingbird feeders, grape jelly in Oriole feeders or sliced oranges & grapefruit hung in the Yaupon.   Although some references show our area of Texas only as a migration area for the Baltimore Oriole, other books & researchers show that both these birds spend summers here in our part of Texas.   Both enjoy a deciduous wooded habitat with large trees.   We have also noticed they enjoy bird baths as well as water sprinklers here at Oakridge Ranch.

Following are links to information on both of these beautiful birds:
http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Orchard_Oriole/id
http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Baltimore_Oriole/id

Baltimore Oriole at Hummingbird Feeder; Photo by B.LaVergne, May 2012.
Baltimore Oriole at Hummingbird Feeder; Photo by B.LaVergne, May 2012.

Please consider adding an Oriole feeder at your home.   Let’s invite more of these gorgeous birds to the Ranch before they migrate south for the winter.   Keep us posted on your birds via email at oakridgeranchwma@gmail.com.