Many cities across the United States fall along major migratory flyways for birds. As urban centers expand in both structural development and the addition of more and more people, places for migratory birds to rest, feed, and nest are disappearing. This creates additional pressure on birds trying to survive their long migratory journeys, but is a situation Audubon Connecticut is tackling head on in the Atlantic Flyway through our Urban Oases initiative within our Bird-Friendly Communities program.
Thanks to strong and committed local partnerships, we are pleased to announce the establishment of two new Audubon Urban Oases this spring at the following sites: 1) The Hamden Land Trust Property along the Farmington Canal Rail Trail Urban in Hamden (coordinated by the Hamden Land Trust); and 2) The Mill River Trail in Fair Haven/New Haven (coordinated by the Mill River Trail Advocates). Although not an official Urban Oases project, Audubon is also lending some support to the River Advocates of South Central Connecticut group to create a small bird habitat planting at the Regional Water Authority property in Hamden.
These three habitat projects join a network of 12 Urban Oases in New Haven and the New Haven Harbor Watershed area that provide vital places of respite for birds and people. The planting for these new projects will take place summer 2017. The projects were chosen with the use of our innovative GIS site selection tool to pinpoint areas with the greatest potential to benefit migratory birds and with input from the Urban Refuge Partnership Advisory Council, which includes Audubon Connecticut, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the local Menunkatuck Audubon Society chapter, Urban Resources Initiative (URI), City of New Haven Parks & Recreation, Yale Peabody Museum, Common Ground, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven Bird Club, and members of several park friends groups.
“It’s amazing what can be accomplished when groups come together and roll up their sleeves,” shares Audubon Connecticut’s Bird-Friendly Communities Manager Katie Blake. “With the establishment of each new Urban Oasis comes not only improved, restored bird and wildlife habitat, but also an exciting and energized connection among the people in the neighborhood and greater community.”
To aid the new urban oases in their project development, Audubon and URI organized an Urban Oases Exchange on April 28, 2017, at an existing urban oasis site—Beaver Pond Park. The group was met by Nan Bartow and Bill Bidwell of Friends of Beaver Pond Park, who shared their experience on becoming an Urban Oasis, their progress to date, and led the group in a tour of their habitat. It was a wonderful day of learning and community building.
In an effort to build more awareness about the importance of supporting migratory birds, Audubon Connecticut, Menunkatuck Audubon Society, New Haven Parks & Recreation, and partners in the New Haven Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership, will be hosting their annual International Migratory Bird Day celebration at East Rock Park in New Haven on Saturday, May 13, 2017, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. All are invited to join guided bird walks, live birds of prey programs, various family-friendly activities, music, food trucks, and more.
We can all support migratory birds not only through the establishment of Urban Oases, but by also eradicating invasive plants and providing native plants in our own backyards.