Audubon Mid-Atlantic
July 2021 News | Upcoming Events
Swainson's Thrush in red elderberry
Creating Healthy Communities for Birds and People
Over the past few weeks, Audubon Mid-Atlantic staff have been responding in many different ways to the mysterious illness impacting birds in our region. These responses reflect the breadth of our regional work and the passion that Audubon staff bring to our work on behalf of birds. Our ornithologists are conferring with public agencies and private partners as they seek to find the origins of the disease. Communications staff are helping to get the word out through our web site, social media channels, newspaper, television and radio. Our centers are fielding worried questions from concerned bird lovers.

What has struck me the most about all of these efforts is the sense of personal responsibility that we have for the birds we love. It is easy sometimes to consider Audubon’s work in the abstract—conservation and policy work that happens somewhere else, far away from our own backyards and local communities. This past month, however, when Audubon’s staff and larger community sprung into action to help the birds we see every day, the importance of individual efforts to protect and nurture birds came into greater focus.

In this month’s newsletter, you’ll read more about Audubon’s Bird-Friendly Communities work, which seeks to give all of us the tools we need to help birds thrive. If we have yards, we can plant native trees and flowers that will help nourish birds. In cities like York, Baltimore and Philadelphia as well as small towns along Pennsylvania’s Kittatinny Ridge, Audubon staff are helping our neighbors create bird-friendly habitats in public spaces.

And when birds thrive, so do people.

Suzanne Biemiller
Executive Director, Audubon Mid-Atlantic
Vice President, National Audubon Society
Swainson's Thrush in red elderberry. Photo: Mick Thompson
American Goldfinch
Establishing New Roots
As we wait for updates related to the mysterious illness that is impacting songbirds across the region, we want to take a moment to thank each of you who have, with heavy hearts, removed your bird feeding stations and bird baths. We know it’s been difficult, but there’s always hope. And, always something more we can do to be better stewards of the world we share.

Many of you have expressed concern over birds having enough to eat without readily available feeders which makes this an ideal moment to look to native plants as a long-term, sustainable support system for the birds we all love so dearly.

Birds rely heavily on nature’s bounty of seeds, nuts, berries, nectar, and most importantly, insects. Insects make up the largest food group for songbirds and are crucial when it comes to raising a nest full of young ones. In order to keep this buffet stocked, native plants are an absolute must-have.

Native plants function as host plants for native insects, providing the necessary habitat for breeding that isn’t available from the exotic and non-native plants that have become commonplace in modern landscaping. And the berries, seeds, nuts, and nectar from native plants have evolved over centuries to provide birds with ideal protein, calories, and fat content in a perfectly-sized and well-timed delivery system.

Audubon’s Plants for Birds and Bird-Friendly Habitat recognition programs give you all the resources you need to make your corner of the world welcoming and supportive for feathered visitors. You can make a difference today by adding native plants to your home and community. Start here and find designing, purchasing, and planting resources that make it fun and easy.

With autumn just a few months away, now is the time to start planning your fall plantings. The cooler days of autumn are ideal for planting and give young plants and trees some stress-free time to settle in and focus on strengthening their roots in preparation for springtime growth. There’s a whole community of folks putting down similar roots in our Bird-Friendly Communities Facebook group.

Learn. Plant. Enjoy. It’s that simple. Add a variety of native plants in your home and community, you can rest easy knowing you’ve taken steps to add ecological value, support biodiversity, and establish a safety net that will welcome birds for years.

American Goldfinch in thistle. Photo: Murray Head/Audubon Photography Awards
Volunteers plant natives in York
Samara Project Finds Roots and Wings in York
Back in the icy days of early February, when spring was still a matter of hope, a dedicated group of neighbors in the city of York, Pennsylvania came together to form the Samara Project steering committee. Named for the tiny seed pockets, often dubbed “helicopters,” that spread and help expand tree communities, the Samara Project was designed with the goal of expanding healthy habitat well beyond the borders of a traditional community garden. 

The neighbors shared big ideas that turned into well-crafted plans that began to take root as spring brought a return to gathering and an eagerness to reconnect. Fast forward to late May and the program welcomed two fellows, Noelle LaFaver and Lily Richwine, tasked with nurturing the neighborhood seeds of creativity and collaboration through Gather & Scatter garden programs and an Artful Science competition. 

As summer took hold, so did the roots of the Gather & Scatter programs. By July, two habitat gardens were host to over 200 plants and over two dozen neighbors engaged in weeding, planting, watering, and even fostering seeds so the resulting plants could be added to other spaces this fall. 

By September, the city will have two additional bird-friendly gardens: a kid-friendly pollinator garden that doubles as a riparian buffer and a stormwater management garden to help alleviate significant erosion and reduce polluted runoff. And, October will welcome the crown jewel of the project: a neighbor- and bird-friendly oasis that spans an entire block and connects a habitat corridor stretching from the edge of the neighborhood to the Great Egret nesting area at Kiwanis Lake. In addition to a range of native plants, walking paths, and resting places, the garden will feature homegrown artwork from the Artful Science competition that will help to spread a message of connectivity, conservation, and cooperation for years to come. 

Audubon thanks all of the neighbors, community groups, partner organizations, and the City of York for bringing this project to life. Audubon’s Samara Project is generously funded by the Powder Mill Foundation and the Codorus Watershed Fund of the York County Community Foundation.

Volunteers plant natives in York
Mural Garden in Baltimore
Cultivating Community
“The Mural Garden”, a beautiful butterfly garden planted in Library Square in Baltimore, stands as a beautiful representation of what a community can accomplish by working together. Once a vacant lot, neighborhood residents worked with Patterson Park Audubon Center to transform this rubble-filled lot into a flower-filled garden that’s as beautiful for the neighborhood as it is beneficial for birds.

But, the first seed that needed cultivation wasn’t a flower. It was the simple act of listening. The team at Patterson Park Audubon Center was just getting to know the neighbors of Library Square and in order to truly co-create a project that would meet community and conservation goals, listening was imperative. In doing so, they learned that what residents wanted most for the space was nearly a mirrored reflection of what the Audubon team was hoping for as well - a bird-friendly native plant garden full of color and diversity.

As the mural design developed, key priorities from the community were woven into it including multi-generational and multi-racial representation, as well as people actively tending a garden filled with native plants and local birds. And, as the community and Audubon team worked together to create the garden design, it quickly became clear that the community group was interested in ecological connections, as much as color and beauty. The garden began to take shape as a living tapestry of full-sun plant species that would serve as host plants for a variety of caterpillars, important food for birds, and perennials that would provide seeds and nectar.

When “The Mural Garden” was complete, every part of it connected to the community that helped create it. From the faces in the painting to the black-eyed Susans, purple coneflowers, and cardinal flowers selected for the garden to the stone path that welcomes people to step through the space, each part reflects the community conversations that were integral to the process.

On the day of the planting, Patterson Park Audubon Center Director, Susie Creamer, recalls a mirror reflection of the project in the mural. “Not only were we planting similar plant species, but a group of multi-racial, multi-generational neighbors came together to transform this space for birds and for their community.”
Mural Garden in Baltimore
Clarks Ferry Tavern
Community Conservation Along the Ridge
When we think of Bird-Friendly Communities, it’s often through the lens of backyards and community garden spaces. At the confluence of the Juniata and Susquehanna Rivers in the heart of the Kittatinny Ridge, the community is coming together in a slightly different way.

Working together with the Borough of Duncannon, Appalachian Audubon Society, the Duncannon Appalachian Trail Community, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Perry County Historical Society, and a host of other partners, Audubon Mid-Atlantic is connecting the 185-mile long Kittatinny Ridge Conservation Landscape to the towns tucked within the ridge corridor.

Over the next several months, pilot projects in three communities, leading off with Duncannon, will begin creating and enhancing bird-friendly habitat on public and privately owned spaces. The aim is to mirror the native plants found along the Ridge in town spaces and backyards, strengthening the web of natural resources for food, shelter, and nesting that are so critical to birds migrating along this Globally Important Bird Area, as well as resident birds that are seen year round.

Clarks Ferry Tavern. Photo: William Fischer Jr/Historical Landmarks Database
Upcoming Opportunities
Paint colors
Artful Science Competition Now Accepting Entries
Audubon Mid-Atlantic's Samara Project is hosting an Artful Science Art Competition! Entries are being accepted now through the end of July. Art can be submitted in one of four categories – recycled wood mural design, plant tag label design, nature-inspired poetry, and terracotta pot sculpture – to represent love for Pennsylvania’s native plant and bird species.  Learn more
Photo: Steve Hodgson/Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0
Brewers of the Delaware Watershed growler
Join Us for Birds and Brew
We are excited to announce our first summer event series featuring Brewers for the Delaware River and community partners. Join us at The Discovery Center in Philadelphia to learn more about the connection between water, beer and birds! The “Birds & Brews” series kicks off July 28th, and continues monthly through October. Learn more and RSVP
Photo: Fox N Hare
Baltimore Birding Weekend - Patterson Park staff
Save the Date for Baltimore Birding Weekend!
Get ready for the next Baltimore Birding Weekend coming up  September 24-26, 2021! Stay tuned for more details on fun, guided experiences that help connect people to the incredible wildlife diversity that can be discovered in our urban parks and wetlands. Read more
Patterson Park staff during Audubon's Baltimore Birding Weekend 2020
Barn Swallow
Don't Miss Our Upcoming Events
Check out upcoming events and activities hosted by our Centers and programs throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Get out and explore!
Barn Swallow. Photo: Diane Taylor/Audubon Photography Awards
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(610) 990-3431 |

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