Transforming parks and homes into stepping stones along migratory flyways
West River Memorial Park Urban Oasis in New Haven, Connecticut. Photo: Dennis Riordan
Over the past century, much of the land in the United States has been fragmented and negatively impacted by urbanization, toxic pesticides, and invasive species. From urban centers to rural towns, each community has the potential to provide important habitat for native birds—and a richer, more healthful place to live for people. Through our Urban Oases Program, Audubon Connecticut is committed to doing just that.
The goal of the Urban Oases Program is to identify, improve, and conserve important stop-over habitat for migrating songbirds all along the Atlantic migratory flyway, focusing on urban areas and other landscapes where there is limited quality habitat. In collaboration with numerous partners including Audubon chapters, local garden clubs, federal, state and municipal agencies, and other NGOs, we improve the quality of public and private lands as stop-over habitat for migrating birds through restoration projects while promoting the protection of critical habitats and green spaces valuable to birds and people.
Why urban oases matter to birds: The Atlantic Flyway—a major migratory route stretching all along the Eastern Seaboard—is traversed by tens of millions of songbirds twice each year. To make these remarkable journeys, birds require places to rest and refuel all along the way. These transcontinental journeys are challenging for the hardiest of birds, and the challenges are only increased as vast areas of natural habitat along migration pathways are altered or eliminated. The forests, shrublands and coastal habitats of the Eastern Seaboard are steadily giving way to development, making it difficult for exhausted birds to find suitable places to rest and refuel.
The conservation of migratory birds, many of which are experiencing serious population declines, requires the protection of a network of stop-over sites all along their migratory pathway. In this rapidly changing landscape, our parks, gardens, and backyards may serve as the only valuable habitat oases for hungry migrants. By applying management and landscaping practices that provide high-quality habitat and food sources for migrating birds and other wildlife, our urban green spaces and remnant forests may serve as important stepping stones for birds along their journeys.
The benefits of the Urban Oases Program doesn’t stop at birds. The results of these projects for urban communities are more beautiful and livable neighborhoods, parks and schools for Connecticut residents because where birds thrive, people prosper!