Birder's Guide

MAY 2014

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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16 Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community | May 2014 Conservation Milestones her parents to let the grass grow "wild" along the tree line and in the dog run. She wrote an article about her project for her local ornithological society news- letter to encourage others to improve their backyards and created a blog called Better Bird Habitats . Walker's yard is an inspiration for other young birders. She has long loved land- scaping and birds, but her conservation project "made me fall in love even more." "I had a wonderful time working on my project," she says, "and I can't wait to do more work improving the bird habi- tat in my backyard in the future!" Jack & Lois Baird: Staten Island Legacy –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Back in the 1970s, Jack and Lois Baird bristled at the idea of three six-story apartments taking over 26 acres on the south shore of New York's Staten Island. "You know," the Bairds said at the time, "that doesn't go in our neighbor- hood. That's not right." The Bairds, who have always enjoyed doing things together, collected 2,500 signatures on a petition against the proj- ect. When the Department of City Plan- ning wouldn't accept their petition, they refused to give up. Instead, they orga- nized. Their small grassroots organiza- tion, called Friends of Poillon Avenue Wetlands, rallied together community members to save those few acres of wet- lands from housing development. Forty years later, Blue Heron Park Preserve is close to 250 acres and offers a nature cen- ter, nature-themed "tot lot", and free na- ture programming throughout the year. "The park is a bird sanctuary and home to many species of migrant and nesting birds," says Mike Shanley, newly elected President of the Friends of Blue Heron Park. "The park most recently hosted a Rufous Hummingbird for over a month, and has hosted a number of rarities over the years, including Yellow- throated and Prothonotary warbler." The park is also home to a resident popula- tion of Eastern Screech Owls. After more than 40 years, Jack Baird recently stepped down from his position as President of Friends of Blue Heron Park. He is now President Emeritus. "Jack and Lois were pioneers on Stat- en Island and throughout the region," Shanley says. Thanks to the efforts of the far-sighted Bairds, Blue Heron Park Preserve is open for everyone to visit and enjoy. Learn more at . Don Kienholz & Seth House: The Big Bird Garden –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Don Kienholz, a park maintenance worker for the City of Duluth, Minne- sota, believes landscaping should ac- commodate birds and other animals as well as people. With more than 20 years of experience in organic gardening, he and Seth House extensively landscaped their 10-acre grounds north of Duluth to do just that. Kienholz and House use plant ma- terials that offer food and shelter for the birds. These include crabapple and mountain ash for winter-persistent fruit, evergreens for shelter and cones for food, milkweed for Monarch butterfies, brush piles for sparrows, dead snags for cavity nesters, and sunfowers and cornfowers for seed-eating birds once the fower heads have dried. Columbine and pulmonaria are early nectar sources for returning Ruby-throated Humming- birds, and wild grapes, chokeberry, vi- burnum, and elderberry bear fruit in summer. Thirsty gardens and ornamen- tal plants drink harvested rainwater. A water feature in the yard incorpo- rates a pond that many local birds use in the dry summer months. In the frigid Minnesota winter, birds enjoy feeders flled with seed and suet, and heated water. This is a true haven for birds. The yard list boasts 177 species, includ- ing Tufted Titmouse; Summer Tanager; Black-throated Blue, Connecticut, and Golden-winged warblers; Black-backed Woodpecker; Boreal Chickadee—and a frst Minnesota record of Cassin's Finch. Seven owl species are drawn to the yard, as well: Northern Saw-whet, Boreal, Northern Hawk, Great Gray, Barred, Great Horned, and Long-eared. The yard is a boon for people, too. Kienholz and House enjoy gardening, and they preserve, by canning and dry- ing, much of the food they grow. Jack and Lois Baird like to do things togeth- erÑin the 1970s, they rallied the community to turn a few acres of wetlands into a bird sanctuary. Photo © Mark Stein The nature center is a popular gathering place within 250-acre Blue Heron Park Preserve. Photo © Jennifer Shanley 2-Conservation Milestones.indd 16 5/22/14 7:34 PM

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