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At U.S. Open, Fans And Golfers Are Visitors, Birds Are Natives

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The 10th green (left) and 18th green (right) are homes to birds and other wildlife. The superintendent of the course says monitoring them is a major part of regular course maintenance.
Matt Bush
The 10th green (left) and 18th green (right) are homes to birds and other wildlife. The superintendent of the course says monitoring them is a major part of regular course maintenance.

This is the scene organizers and fans want: During Sunday's final round, the last two golfers on the course are tied as they approach the 18th hole. The pressure will mount for every shot on the 523-yard par-4, with the players settling the U.S. Open title on the peninsula 18th green, which is surrounded by water on three sides.

The thousands at Congressional and the millions watching on TV won't be able to take their eyes off the action. But the avian residents of the 18th green pond probably couldn't care less.

"We don't get purple martins every year, but this year they have returned," says Mike Giufre, superintendent of the golf course at Congressional. "It's pretty neat to see. And that's a great system, where those things love insects, and you know how many mosquitoes can be in our area. And they eat many, many pounds of insects, especially mosquitoes."

Monitoring and maintaining wildlife is a major part of the course's maintenance, Giufre says. While the Purple Martins live in the "high rent" area of the 18th green, there are plenty of other birds that call the 7,500 yards of the Congressional course home.

"We've probably built 16 or 17 bluebird boxes. And we monitor the nesting process. Actually count the number of eggs and the number of young that are raised," he says.

The non-avian residents include foxes, deer and turtles.

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