The birds and the bees have a beautiful new urban home in the Collar City, thanks to volunteers from three local organizations.
Having just settled in Troy themselves, employees from Audubon New York, a state agency which helps to to protect birds and their natural environments, led an initiative Wednesday morning to create a comfortable and eye-pleasing wildlife habitat on Eighth Street. The habitat is on a plot of land owned by Capital District Community Gardens, another Troy-based group with a green vision for the future. Volunteers from IHS GlobalSpec in East Greenbush put on their gardening garb to assist with the effort.
Last month, Audubon moved its seven local staff members from Guilderland to Troy’s historic Frear building, located on Third Street. The creation of the wildlife habitat is one of Audubon’s first projects in its new home city.
A true win-win, the work done Wednesday also helped rid the garden of pesky weeds, including Japanese Knotweed and Garlic Mustard, coinciding with New York state’s inaugural Invasive Species Awareness Week.
In addition to helping the garden and the birds, the laboring done this week helps to beautify Troy. The hillside of the garden, where the flowers are planted is visible from the Collar City Bridge, where many visitors approach the city each day.
“This partnership is not only creating a bird-friendly habitat on one of the city’s most visible hillsides, it’s enhancing space at one of the Capital Region’s most valuable resources - the Capital District Community Gardens,” said Erin Crotty, Executive Director of Audubon New York in a press release. “This partnership represents what makes the Audubon network a leading force in environmental conservation and is a valuable way to support the ongoing revitalization of Troy, the home of our new state headquarters.”
“That’s something that we want to continue to do in these downtown neighborhoods to beautify and enhance downtowns,” said John Loz, president of the Audubon Society of the Capital Region.
Monarda, blackeyed Susans, holly and asters, all native to the region, were planted on the hillside Wednesday, in hopes of attracting birds that will appreciate the new vegetation. “A variety of native plants that will attract bugs and birds and make it a prettier place,” Audubon New York’s Manager of Conservation Engagement Laura McCarthy explained. The flowers and plants were donated by Hewitt’s Garden Center of East Greenbush and other local Audubon chapters.
The bird-friendly plants will offer comfort to local birds and migrating passers by. “Native plants basically have evolved for the region that they’re meant for,” McCarthy explained. “They fit into the habitat, the rest of the animals and bugs depend on them.”
The space already has resident catbirds, and will soon see more species enjoying the volunteer work done this week. “Birds flying through on migration are looking for places to stop,” McCarthy said. Soon, the garden is expected to be visited by goldfinch, hummingbirds, bluebirds and indigo buntings.
Helping out on Wednesday was Patrick Jones of North Troy, who is a member of Audubon New York’s local chapter, Audubon Society of the Capital Region. His recent retirement has given him the time to explore his volunteer opportunities. “I’ve always wanted to be involved with birds,” he said Wednesday between pulling weeds.
IHS employee Karen Kenyon of Niskayuna used her “VTO,” volunteer time off, Wednesday to do good on work time. Happy with the opportunity her company provides, “We’re dedicated to promoting corporate sustainability,” she said.
Capital District Community Gardens was thankful for the assistance in ridding the Eighth Street gardens of the unwanted weeds and planting colorful, new life on the hillside. “More hands definitely equal a lighter load,” said lead garden organizer Tara Quackenbush.
“This is a great example of a public-private nonprofit partnership,” McCarthy said. “We’re hoping that its something that can be replicated across the network with some of our other chapters.”
The project was supported by a Toyota TogetherGreen fellowship grant.
For more information about Audubon New York, visit ny.audubon.org
Lauren Halligan may be reached at 270-1287.
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· National Audubon’s Home Page
· Audubon New York
· Hudson-Mohawk Bird Club
· New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
· Adirondack Mountain Club
· Save The Albany Pine Bush Site
· New York Sierra Club
· Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks
· NYS Ornithological Association
· Museum of Innovation and Science
· All about Birds
· Cornell Lab of Ornithology