Neotropical Song Birds

Neotropical Migratory Birds

Black-throated gray warbler by Tim Lenz

A neotropical migratory bird is a bird that breeds in the United States and Canada during summer and spends winters in Mexico, Central America, South America or the Caribbean islands. Songbirds make up the majority of the 200+ neotropical migrant species.

Grass Lake Nature Park is an excellent place for birders to catch a glimpse of some of these magnificient birds. Grass Lake features over 100 bird species that make this unique 171 acre park their home. The habitat is rich with over 200 species of plants.

Over the years pesticide use has been one of the biggest threats to birds including the neotropical migratory birds. Because of the distance that these birds travel, they are likely exposed to more pesticides than resident birds. Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation recognizes the importance of using alternative methods of vegetation control and strives to be pesticide free in many of it's parks including Grass Lake Nature Park. Development has also contributed to the decline in neotropical migratory birds. With habitat loss in both the breeding and feeding grounds, migratory birds are not able to nest or feed enough to substain their numbers.

Take action! The community can help these precious birds by building habitat with native plants, buying responsibly and using alternative landscaping controls such as sheet mulching, hand weeding, flame burning, and applying non-chemical controls. Check out the City's Go Green Lawn Care Program.

Visit the Black Hills Audubon Society for more information on birds in Thurston and Mason counties.

Olympic Mudminnow (Novumbra hubbsi)

Grass Lake Nature Park, part of the Green Cove watershed, is home to the Olympic Mudminnow.  This small and attractive fishgrows to about 3” long, is carnivorous, and lives only in western Washington. Typically olive-brown in coloration, the males become black with blue and gold vertical stripes in the breeding season. The males flash these colors brilliantly as they perform the “wig-wag dance” (yes, that’s what the scientists call it) to attract mates. Mudminnows are usually found in shallow slow-moving streams, ditches, and wetlands with an abundance of aquatic and overhanging vegetation and muddy stream bottoms. The Olympic Mudminnows are poor swimmers which exclude them from Washington’s abundant mountain and hillside streams. It is known to only survive with a few other species of fish. Due to the introduction of non-native fish species and the loss of habitat, the Olympic Mudminnow is on the decline and has been listed as a Washington State sensitive species that may disappear without protection.

For more information about the Olympic Mudminnow visit Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife status report.

Become a steward of Grass Lake Nature Park! To sign-up email parkstewardship@ci.olympia.wa.us or call 360.753.8365. More inforation about stewarding parks can be found at olympiawa.gov/parkvolunteer.