Birds and Pollinators
Where Have All the Thickets Gone?
2017 marked the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and 2018, Year of the Bird focused on ways we can improve environments for the many species of our colorful feathered neighbors. Scott Weidensaul, in an article published on the Audubon.org web site (http://www.audubon.org/news/how-one-underappreciated-habitat-boon-birds), raises the question of where have all the thickets gone? These brushy, tangled areas that provide homes and food for countless birds are quickly disappearing from our landscapes, bulldozed by developers or cleared by homeowners who want pristine yards or an unobstructed view. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed the creation of the Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge encompassing 15,000 acres in the Northeast. This shrubby environment is critical all across the country for birds like Brown Thrashers, Eastern Towhees, warblers, cardinals, chickadees and more. Seeing a beautiful male Eastern Towhee scratching under a bird feeder next to an azalea thicket reminded me how important it is to plant native shrubs, grasses and vines. Don’t be timid about leaving some wild areas in the landscape where birds can hide and build nests and raise their young. You will be rewarded with endless songs and chatter.
Grow Native Bird-friendly Plants
The National Audubon Society, National Geographic, BirdLife International and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have devised simple but meaningful actions for each month that concerned citizens can take to improve conditions for migratory birds. The featured action for March is just what gardeners have ordered: Grow Native Plants. Bird-friendly landscaping provides food, saves water, provides shelter, and fights climate change according to Marina Richie, writing for National Audubon. So, what should we plant? Audubon has a native plant database indexed according to zip code. Follow this link to see what is suggested for our island: https://www.audubon.org/native-plants/search?zipcode=31411. Each of the sponsoring organizations have a wealth of information focusing on activities for the Year of the Bird. Type the names of the organizations into your search engine to find out more.
Submitted by Shirley Brown
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