Audubon Mid-Atlantic
June 2021 News | Upcoming Events
Collecting seeds in the native garden at nature camp at Patterson Park Audubon Center, Baltimore, MD.
Planting the Seeds of Stewardship
Since taking the role of executive director for Audubon Mid-Atlantic in February, I have given a great deal of thought to the concept of stewardship. These musings have certainly focused on the “how” but, perhaps more importantly, also the “why.”
 
One of the main drivers of our work at Audubon is to manage responsibly the natural resources and habitats that birds need to survive and thrive. The stories below describe some of the ways in which we are working in the Mid-Atlantic to do exactly that. What strikes me most about this important work is that stewardship comes in many forms—hands-on work in local communities, teaching others how to be good stewards of their land, using policy levers to drive land protection and asking others to join us in our important mission.  These easily described strategies and tools are our “how.”

The “why” is harder for me to define.  What inspired me to become an employee of Audubon might be very different from what motivates you to volunteer your time and treasure to the organization. Or maybe not so different at all.  I also think about all of those individuals who value what Audubon creates with its “how,” but choose to not join with us in our efforts. Do they not know about our good work to help birds? Or perhaps they do not feel that they belong in Audubon’s community? Or maybe they are just busy living their lives and I should not worry about it.

Yet I do think about the “why” of stewardship a lot. And ultimately, I want our work to matter to more community members in the Mid-Atlantic region. I want more people to value how Audubon stewards land, waterways, coasts and urban neighborhoods. If we are to advance our mission successfully, we must make our work more relevant to more people. We must be good stewards of Audubon itself.

I thank all of you for your support of Audubon and I invite all of you to consider how we grow our community and our work in the months and years to come. 

Suzanne Biemiller
Executive Director, Audubon Mid-Atlantic
Vice President, National Audubon Society
Collecting seeds in the native garden at the nature camp at Patterson Park Audubon Center, Baltimore, MD.
Scarlet Tanager
Proactive Partnerships
In Pennsylvania, protecting habitat for forest birds involves cultivating stewardship across a range of stakeholders. For a state where over 71% of forests are privately owned, this work means engaging family forest landowners, partnering with conservation organizations, and collaborating with consulting foresters and others in the forest products industry. Audubon’s Healthy Forest program is developing resources and programming that support these partnerships, resulting in meaningful, scalable practices that have positive impacts for birds and the environment.

One in 12 Wood Thrush and one in ten Scarlet Tanagers rely on Pennsylvania’s forest landscape for nesting. Because these forests are predominately privately owned, healthy forest outreach and engagement are critical elements of our overall strategy.

The ripple effect of this strategy is seen in Audubon’s training workshops, partnerships, and resources. Targeted workshops for consulting foresters result in pragmatic, impactful approaches to land stewardship for both foresters and their clients. Organizational partnerships around the Family Forest Carbon Program offer new funding avenues through carbon markets, opening the door to private landowners for conservation work that was previously unfeasible in mature forests. And, a suite of resources provide tailored solutions to the needs and challenges of the forest industry, empowering professionals to integrate science-based solutions into their work, resulting in additional benefits for landowners while simultaneously improving migratory, stopover, and breeding habitat for birds.

Learn more about Audubon’s Healthy Forest program here.
Scarlet Tanager. Photo: Linda Steele/Audubon Photography Awards
Patterson Park community plantings
Building Community Stewards
As we spring into the summer months, Patterson Park Audubon Center is growing green spaces all over Baltimore that attract both birds and people! Our stewardship projects improve the vibrancy of our neighborhoods while providing much needed habitat for birds, pollinators, and other wildlife. We recently collaborated with our neighbors to create and expand two bird-friendly gardens. 

The Conkling Street Garden (CSG) in southeast Baltimore is a unique space in a multilingual neighborhood. The former industrial lot has a history of loading livestock onto trains for slaughter. The current owners have no use for the space, but they allow community members to cultivate their vegetable and herb gardens in raised beds. In May, we tackled a second project with the CSG gardeners to add pollinator gardens to enhance the space. Center staff worked with neighbors to collect feedback on ideas for the new garden beds and collaborated with organizers from Highlandtown Community Association and Southeast Community Development Corporation (CDC) to hold the planting day. Though it was a rainy day, a core crew of hard-working volunteers filled a new raised bed with soil, added compost to the second bed, planted the entrance corner bed, and got 200+ native plants in the ground.

Families from Patterson Park Audubon Center’s Bird Ambassadors program for Latinx parents seeded a new bird-friendly garden at Charles Carroll Barrister Elementary School in southwest Baltimore. The new garden and other improvements serve to beautify the school entrance. Our volunteers put fresh soil on top of an old weedy garden bed that the Bird Ambassadors had prepared the week before, planted 150 plants, and mulched the bed. Parents painted the wooden benches that frame the garden beds, as well as a wooden fence along the sidewalk that leads to the entrance. Students have a much more colorful path into school, and this transformed space will have something in bloom in spring, summer, and fall. There are several other overgrown garden beds in the schoolyard that we hope to transform in the fall, once the new school year starts.
Community volunteers help create bird-friendly gardens in southwest Baltimore.
Northern Mockingbird, Eastern Redbud
Healthy Habitats at Home: From Intention to Action
Audubon’s Bird-Friendly Habitat recognition program offers a chance for everyone, regardless of property size, plant know-how, or bird knowledge, to get involved and have a positive impact on the world – for themselves and for birds! Dr. Elizabeth Gray, Interim CEO of National Audubon Society, said it beautifully in a recent opinion piece with CNN. According to Gray, planting native plants in natural spaces like yards and local parks is “…a lifeline for birds traveling thousands of miles looking for a place to stop, rest, feed and replenish for the journey.”

You can turn the outdoor areas at your home into bird-friendly spaces by focusing on four key areas: food, water, shelter, and nesting. By using native trees, shrubs, flowers and groundcovers, you'll be providing birds and their babies with the nectar, seeds, berries, and, most importantly, insects, that they need. Plant them densely to provide shelter and nesting sites and you'll be well on your way to earning your Audubon habitat sign! Audubon has plenty of resources to make planting with natives fun and easy. From the Native Plants Database, which provides a list of plants tailored to your zip code, to our professionally curated DIY Garden Designs, planting with natives has never been easier. And, the retail partners included in the database or our Bird-Friendly Blooms program make sourcing those plants a fun adventure that results in a garden space that’s as beautiful as it is beneficial. Add a water source to your space and you’re ready to roll out the welcome mat for birds. Go a few steps further to minimize the most common threats to birds - reflective windows, pesticides, invasive species, and outdoor cats – and you’ll have truly created a bird-friendly habitat. 

The Bird-Friendly Habitat program is available in Pennsylvania and Maryland, and D.C. Learn more about how you can get involved and join the ranks of thousands of Audubon-ers who garden with ecology in mind. The birds will thank you!
Northern Mockingbird in Eastern Redbud. Photo: Glenda Simmons/Great Backyard Bird Count
Northern Harrier
Stewarding a Critical Resource
Protection of key resources, like the Delaware River Watershed, relies on a variety of strategies spanning from policy, community engagement and advocacy, to on-the-ground habitat management. As we work to improve clean water and habitat for the birds and people throughout the watershed, Audubon’s policy priorities for the region focus on adequately funding critical programs and agencies tasked with protecting the watershed.

The recent formation of the Delaware River Watershed Caucus serves as a huge step in this direction, bringing hope of increased funding and efforts to ensure healthy waters through the support of bi-partisan leaders. As we couple our policy focus with on-the-ground restoration efforts, like those at Whitby Meadows, along with the engagement of our network of advocates, we can foster stewardship of this important resource at all scales, from local communities to federal leaders.
Brad Lewis/Audubon Photography Awards
Mill Grove, historic home of John James Audubon
Honoring a Long-time Steward of Mill Grove
Before the John James Audubon Center was even a twinkle in National Audubon Society’s eye, Jean Rogers Holt and Lt. Col. Terry Holt spearheaded an effort in the 1980s to prevent the development of part of the Mill Grove property, the site of her great grandfather's Civil War-era birth. Over the last 20 years, the Holts contributed much time, effort, and funds to improve Audubon’s collections and to finance the building of a new state-of-the-art museum, and other site improvements. 

While the Holts supported current programs, they also planned for the financial future of the site. Jean and Terry created generous annuity gifts with Audubon, now established as The Jean & Robert Holt Endowment for Mill Grove, which will protect birds and bolster the Center’s programs for generations to come.

To learn more about Jean, who passed away in January 2021, and her legacy at Mill Grove, please read more here.

For more information on ways to support Audubon with these types of gifts, contact Shari Kolding, Director of Gift Planning, Shari.Kolding@audubon.org.
Mill Grove, historic home of John James Audubon
Upcoming Opportunities
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.  Baltimore Birding Weekend
Patterson Park staff during Audubon's Baltimore Birding Weekend 2020
Common Yellowthroat pair
Keep up to date with Mid-Atlantic Events
Our Audubon Centers and programs throughout the Mid-Atlantic region have some exciting virtual and in-person events and activities planned throughout the summer. Be sure to check our calendars often, as we continue to add events.  Join us in exploring birds and the nature around you!
Common Yellowthroat. Photo: Gary Robinette/Audubon Photography Awards
Audubon Mid-Atlantic Offices
Pennsylvania Business Office
1201 Pawlings Road
Audubon, PA 19403
(610) 666-5593 ex. 101​ | pa.audubon.org
Support our Pennsylvania work
Maryland Office
2901 East Baltimore Street, Box 2
Baltimore, MD 21224
(410) 558-2473 | md.audubon.org
Support our Maryland-DC work
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Audubon Mid-Atlantic
3401 Reservoir Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19121
(610) 990-3431 | audubon.org

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