Audubon's new “Urban Oases” wildlife garden was celebrated on May 12, 2012 in Cove Island Park in Stamford, CT.
Over 300 children and adults participated in a celebration of birds and ground breaking for the “Urban Oases” wildlife garden at Cove Island Park on Saturday.
Audubon Connecticut and the Cove Island Park Conservancy hosted the celebration, which took place on International Migratory Bird Day, and featured live falcons and owls on display, a flying bird show, exhibits, games and nature walks. The highlight of the day was a ground breaking ceremony for a new garden to be planted behind the popular playground area of the park that will provide important habitat for migrating birds. Student representatives from four Stamford Public Schools – Rogers, Stark, and Springdale Elementary Schools and Stamford High School – participated in the ceremony, and will return with their classmates this spring and fall to help install the garden and monitor its success.
The ceremony also included statements by Representative Daniel J. Fox, Karen Brown from Fairfield County Community Foundation, Lisa Kovlakas representing the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, and Heather Bernatchez, representing Mayor Michael Pavia.
ABOUT THE URBAN OASES INITIATIVE: Each spring, billions of birds return to the US on their annual migration from South and Central America to nesting grounds all over North America. To make this trip possible, birds need to find high quality habitat in which to feed and rest at points all along their migration pathway, much like rest areas along a highway. As vast areas of land are altered or eliminated by sprawl and development, birds are finding it more challenging to find good places to stop and refresh along the way. Without adequate places for birds to rest and refuel, many birds die of starvation, or need to delay their travels until they build enough fat to continue on, causing them to arrive on their breeding grounds late and in poor condition. Late arriving birds tend to have lower breeding success and reduced survival.
To increase awareness about migration and help enhance stopover habitat in urban areas, Audubon Connecticut and the Cove Island Park Conservancy are working with local students to create a special songbird demonstration garden in Cove Island Park.
The garden, funded by the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, is the first in a series of “Urban Oases” sites being established throughout Connecticut in order to help transform parks, gardens and backyards into valuable oases for hungry migrants. It is also part of a larger effort by the Cove Island Park Conservancy and Audubon to enhance habitat throughout Cove Island Park, a National Audubon Society designated ‘Important Bird Area’ that is known for its value as a critical stop-over area for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway.
The schools participating in the ground breaking were selected through an application process to participate in Audubon’s Schoolyard Habitat Program, funded by the Fairfield County Community Foundation, the Oaklawn Foundation and Laurie Thomson, Andy Chisholm and family. Audubon, in partnership with the Stamford School District and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, provides each school with a grant to create a wildlife garden on their school grounds and provides teachers with the training and tools to use the garden as an outdoor living classroom.
“The Fairfield County Community Foundation is pleased to be a funder of Audubon’s Schoolyard Habitat Program. This initiative represents an important new partnership between Audubon and the Stamford Public Schools. As a funder that cares about developing the next generation of environmental stewards, Audubon’s Schoolyard Habitat Program will provide hands-on environmental education opportunities right on the campus of Stamford public schools and will also connect students and teachers to Cove Island Park, an Important Bird Area,” states Karen R. Brown, Vice President of Programs at the Fairfield County Community Foundation.
The ground breaking ceremony was brought to a close with inspiring words from David Winston, President of the Cove Island Park Conservancy: “Today we are really here to thank the birds, to recognize their value in our lives, and their importance in the web of life.
This Urban Oases garden is just another stop along their migratory highway. It gives the birds an opportunity to rest, find shelter, food and regroup for the next portion of their journey. It is that moment they visit here, which we get to share.”
People interested in creating an Urban Oases in their yard, school or other open space are invited to contact Audubon Connecticut for native plant lists and site specific advice. Visit www.audubonCT.org to learn more or contact Taralynn Reynolds at at 203-869-5272 x236.