Bird Town Pennsylvania is a grassroots conservation program working directly with municipal leaders to develop bird-friendly communities. Bird Town Pennsylvania’s mission is to work in partnership with local municipalities, their residents, and businesses as well as with other like-minded organizations to promote community-based conservation actions to create a healthier and more sustainable environment for birds, wildlife, and people.
Working together with EACs, Park and Recreation Boards, libraries, and Audubon Chapters, 34 different Bird Town Pennsylvania programs have been established in nine counties in Pennsylvania. These programs engage, educate, support, model, and empower communities by offering a variety of events and actions, which can include holding bird walks, creating native plant pop-up gardens, holding table events, leading community science programs, offering native plant sales and swaps, installing habitat gardens on private and public lands, and creating municipal level resolutions and ordinances supporting native plantings for new construction, removal of invasive plants, etc. Bird Towns have also enrolled over 2,000 private properties across the state in Audubon’s Backyard Habitat Recognition Program and help promote similar programs geared to diverse interests.
The program’s resource rich website (birdtownpa.org) informs the community about their program and inspires community members and municipal leaders to take action. A bimonthly Bird Town Flyer e-newsletter is published for the program leaders to share about their successes, and also includes information about upcoming webinars and workshops, and provides educational articles. Additionally, a community wide e-newsletter is published quarterly to provide helpful seasonal tips and actions homeowners can take to support and create healthier habitats for birds, wildlife, and their families. An active Facebook page also offers real-time news and announcements.
The Bird Town Pennsylvania program provides municipalities with concrete resources and achievable actions, a framework of community-wide networking, support, training and workshops for their Bird Town leaders, opportunities to expand into diverse communities, and increases in opportunities and success in obtaining funding.
An example of the scope of networking that the program can provide is the Upper Perkiomen Bird and Wildlife Festival. Created in 2011 through the partnership of the Montgomery County Parks Department, Wyncote Audubon and the Lehigh Valley Audubon Society, area schools, and three Bird Towns in the western part of the Montgomery County, the festival offers a unique assembly of nature vendors, environmental non-profits, governmental natural resource agencies, wildlife rehabbers, native plants growers, artists, musicians, scout groups, and more meeting at the Green Lane Park for a fun day in nature. (Note: the festival continues today but with different partners.)
Another excellent example of networking is the recent Crosswicks Sanctuary Workday, an event sponsored by Abington Township Parks and Recreation, Abington EAC, Abington Bird Town, and Wyncote Audubon Society. Volunteers from Abington Senior High School planted Pawpaw and Hop-Hornbeam Trees and installed deer protection guards around these new plantings and other saplings, in addition to removing invasive exotic plants and litter.
Municipalities can join the program for free by sending an email to Heidi Shiver at [email protected] to organize an introductory virtual meeting to discuss the process and the Bird Town Pennsylvania Municipal Application Start-up Toolkit.