Count Library Square, a greenspace on Fayette St., near the Patterson Park Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, as one more place for local and migrating birds to stop, relax and get a bite to eat.
Last month, the Patterson Park Audubon Center, working with Banner Neighborhoods, Civic Works and local volunteers, added about 1,000 square feet of “habitat garden” to the square.
A habitat garden contains local plants that attract the bugs that birds like to eat. Susie Creamer, director of urban education and conservation for Patterson Park Audubon, explained that her group is trying to expand bird habitat outside of Patterson Park, and smaller habitat gardens are key to accomplishing that task.
On June 14, Patterson Park Audubon led the planting at Library Square, with help from Banner Neighborhoods and Civic Works, a local greening and educational organization. Thirty-six people helped in the effort, Creamer said, including many local volunteers.
“Probably the most poetic part of it for me is looking at the people who came,” she said. “We had multi-generational people of many colors, and it really was a reflection of the mural.”
Anyone who has driven past Library Square on Fayette St. has noticed the large and colorful mural, painted by artist Bridget Cimino. The mural depicts local people of all ages working in a garden of local plants and flowers. The habitat garden was planted just below.
Creamer noted that with the high turnout at the planting, the work was done in just a half hour.
The garden portion of the project was funded by a Baltimore Community Foundation grant. BCF also funded the Civic Works portion of the project, which included some grading, decorative stonework, and walkways through the garden.
Creamer explained that local plants are best for habitat gardens, because they attract the local bugs, which in turn attract the birds.
So why do we want birds?
Creamer referred to a group of Latino women—first generation immigrants—with whom she has worked on many occasions.
“They have a personal connection [to the birds],” explained Creamer. “The birds are migrating north to south along the Americas—not just the same species, but the same individuals, flying these incredible distances.”
Creamer noted that her friends can’t afford to make the journeys to visit their home countries, but the birds do every year.
“There’s this sense of ‘Say hi to Grandma,’” said Creamer. “It feeds their personal well-being.”
In upcoming weeks and month, Patterson Park Audubon will offer more chances to learn about habitat gardens, including how to plant one of your own, Creamer said.
For more information, visit Patterson Park Audubon on the web (pattersonpark.audubon.org), find them on Facebook, or call 410-558-BIRD.
by Erik Zygmont