The traditional thinking about the Clark Library’s collections is that they comprise just those books, manuscripts, archives and art housed in the historic building, but since 2018, librarians have been thinking of ways to shift that thinking to include the library’s grounds as another collection worthy of study. Though the pandemic has made it difficult to work on furthering this concept, we nonetheless were successful in hosting graduate students from Dr. Pamela Yeh’s lab in UCLA’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology on several early mornings in Spring 2021, as they worked to capture, band, and measure sparrows at the Clark. Dr. Yeh’s long-term study of Dark-eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis) in urban settings has been working on campus and throughout West LA for years and documented changing breeding behaviors and physiological changes evolving in urban birds like those at the Clark. Throughout LA, Dark-eyed Juncos have become year-long residents in our urban parks, backyards and college campuses, when even 10 or 20 years ago, they were just winter visitors here, who would return to the Angeles National Forest or Santa Monica Mountain woodlands to breed and raise young. During their surveys at the Clark, researchers were able to catch and band two male juncos, who were given the nicknames “William Clark” and “Montero” and colorful leg bands that make them easily identifiable through binoculars. They’ve both raised young at the Clark this summer (at opposite ends of the library’s large central lawn, as juncos can be quite territorial), and we hope that they will call the library home for many more seasons to come.
— Rebecca Flemming Marschall