Uncle Mick came for dinner over the weekend and the conversation turned to the birds that once were on this land and now are gone. Mick even knew which page to tell me to look at in the Birds of North America guide.
Here's what once was and now is no more on this prairie:
Once the ducks were so thick, that as a boy he fired one shot and bagged 10 ducks that were in a row. At times the skies had been black with ducks- thousands that would land in the field while they picked corn. Someone commented that the waterfowl flyway had shifted away from here. But the truth is they are diminished.
There is a new normal. My kids have never seen any of those birds in the landscape. Unless someone tells them, they will never know they are missing. I never really knew they were missing. I look at all the relative abundance of wildlife we have here and can't see what I didn't know was once here. Meadowlarks would be unusual- not a part of the ecosystem I've experienced. And Big Stone County is a birders paradise.
Soon after moving here Mike and I agreed on one goal for our farm -- to have some meadowlarks return.