Nature Alert: Breathe, listen, enjoy—and join in

By Anne Blackburn
Chair of the Wildlife Habitat Management Project

Spring at Riderwood is charming. The air is softer and smells of thawing earth. The songs of birds returning from migrations and looking for mates and nesting sites surround us, and our many flowering trees and shrubs delight us. We can’t take any credit for the invigorating quality of the air. But some projects give everyone more to listen for and enjoy. Some bring together different resident groups and some reach beyond our borders.

Our birding-related activities are good examples. Birding expert, Don Messersmith, oversees resident volunteers who monitor more than 50 bird houses (twenty were constructed as the Eagle Project of a local Boy Scout). When homes are damaged, our Woodcrafters provide repairs or replacements. Don and others also lead Bird Walks, reporting species spotted on campus to the Ornithological Laboratory at Cornell University which is conducting research nationwide to understand the impacts of climate change better.

Residents whose apartments have terraces or balconies or who have garden plots support desirable insects and birds when they choose plants preferred by Butterflies and other pollinators. Judy Kneen leads the volunteers who tend the Butterfly Garden at the Chapel and can provide ideas.

Other residents add to the beauty and desirable habitat on campus by Adopting-a-Pot or joining the Aquanauts — watering unirrigated portions of the campus. Jack Vargo of Grounds can answer questions about getting involved.

The Weed Warriors remove vines and other invasives that smother more desirable shrubs and trees. Honeysuckle and other vines had so completely covered the lovely flowering Azaleas along the wooded path at the back of the Arboretum that the bushes were barely able to bloom. Once freed up by the Weed Warriors, the bushes once again are thriving. But this initiative needs new leadership if it is to continue. Anne Blackburn can fill you in.

Many of the projects through which residents can help make our campus even more beautiful and wildlife-friendly will have exhibits at our Earth Day celebration on April 18th. Do come and join in!

Nature Alerts are provided by Riderwood’s Wildlife Habitat Management Project (WHMP)

(Featured photo courtesy of Anne Blackburn)

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