Audubon and Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage offer Habitat Workshop for Landowners


Pickering Creek Audubon Center and Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage (CWH) will present an exciting educator and landowner training on September 28th, 2017 from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The training, Restoring Habitat in the Chesapeake Bay Region of the Atlantic Flyway, includes lunch and is offered free of charge for participants thanks to a 2016 grant from Waterfowl Chesapeake, the conservation arm of the annual Waterfowl Festival. Pickering Creek and CWH have previously partnered to restore 90 acres of non-tidal wetlands, plant 11 acres of woodlands, and create 48 acres of warm season grass meadows at Pickering Creek. All of these projects are used to showcase habitat restoration and land management activities.

The training is designed for large landowners and caretakers, staff and volunteer leaders of local land conservancy, environmental education and other conservation and community organizations in an effort to encourage each organization’s constituents to restore large tracts of farmland to bird and wildlife habitat. During this one-day workshop staff and lead volunteers from partnering organizations will receive in depth training on the value of these projects to birdlife, wildlife and water quality.

The workshop will focus not only on the benefits, but will also touch upon the methods of restoring cropland to a variety of habitats including warm season grass buffers and meadows, forest buffers and freshwater wetlands. The training will emphasize the value of these habitats to birds along the Atlantic Flyway, particularly field size restoration projects that can affect landscape scale improvement to local ecosystems. At the conclusion of the training, participants will have a stock presentation and script that they will be able to use to give short presentations to the local community groups they are in contact with on the value of habitat restoration projects, the basic methods of implementation and contact information for technical and financial assistance required to initiate a project.

In Maryland, wetlands have declined by 70% according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Wildlife populations have suffered from that loss of habitat including, according to Audubon’s State of the Birds, Northern Pintail (decline of 77%), Eastern Meadowlark (72%), Grasshopper Sparrow (65%) and Northern Bobwhite (82%). The USGS notes that 95% of nutrients in Chesapeake Bay drainage of the Delmarva Peninsula comes from agriculture (USGS Circular 1228). In forested habitat Wood Thrush have declined 30% and continue to decline 1.7% each year. Attention to opportunities by community leaders to optimize habitats of these species is critical to their survival.

On Maryland’s Eastern Shore, 20-500 acre properties are still commonly found. Though rich in traditional ‘environmental’ organizations, individual landowners have a great opportunity to learn about, implement and spread the word about land management practices that can improve the health of the Bay and wildlife.

The workshop will conclude with a session on Audubon’s “Plants for Birds” program. More native plants mean more choices of food and shelter for native birds and other wildlife. To survive, native birds need native plants and the insects that have co-evolved with them. Most landscaping plants available in nurseries are exotic species from other countries. Many are prized for qualities that make them poor food sources for native birds—like having leaves that are unpalatable to native insects and caterpillars. With 96 percent of all terrestrial bird species in North America feeding insects to their young, planting insect-proof exotic plants is like serving up plastic food. No insects? No birds.

The workshop is sponsored by Waterfowl Chesapeake as part of their effort to connect financial resources with environmental needs and also increase community engagement and people’s understanding of the importance and benefits of healthy waterfowl habitats and populations on the Shore. Pickering Creek Audubon Center has been educating citizens on the Eastern Shore of Maryland about the environment for twenty-five years. A strong relationship with local school programs and community groups helps facilitate more than 12,000 program contacts with individuals each year. The Center’s 400 acres of forest, wetland, tidal marsh and agricultural fields exhibit the broad diversity of habitats that represent Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

To register for the training please contact Mark Scallion or Samantha Pitts at Pickering Creek Audubon Center, 410.822.4903

Write a Letter to the Editor on this Article

We encourage readers to offer their point of view on this article by submitting the following form. Editing is sometimes necessary and is done at the discretion of the editorial staff.