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Habitat

Spring Awakens on Fishers Island

Despite its size, Fishers Island provides a diversity of life that rivals the mainland. The warmer temperatures on the island provide longer growing seasons for plants, and more opportunities to feed resident wildlife as well as our migratory birds. In the past year, we have observed an increase in the number of key fauna to the island. The return of insect-eating warblers, like the common yellowthroat and blue-winged warbler, are a welcome sight as both migrants and residents to the island, as are the arrival of state threatened and endangered species like the American kestrel and northern harrier. We have also seen an increase in the number of visiting monarch butterflies to the parade grounds, undoubtingly from an increase in native milkweed plantings, and at least two generations of the butterfly on the island.

At the same time, we have seen trouble on the horizon. The presence of non-native plants, like porcelainberry, oriental bittersweet, autumn olive, and Japanese knotweed, threaten the diversity of the island and the ecosystem services these species provide. Including goldenrod and fall asters will encourage good sources of nectar for migratory monarch butterflies, and native trees like cherry, oak, and willow provide food for not just insects but the migratory birds that feed on them. Efforts to remove weeds and plant natives in residential yards has already begun, but it takes an island effort to conserve the natural beauty of Fishers, one that starts with you.

Adam Mitchell Associate Wildlife Biologist®
PhD Student
Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology
University of Delaware

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