by Dottie Head, Director of Membership & Communications
Atlanta Audubon has received a $3,000 grant through the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Viewing Grants program to construct and install a 12-foot-tall Chimney Swift tower at Atlanta’s Freedom Park.
The Chimney Swift tower at Freedom Park will complement existing bird- and pollinator-friendly habitat work completed by the Freedom Park Conservancy and their partners at the Freedom Park Bird and Wildflower Garden. Certified as an Atlanta Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary in 2018 and located in Freedom Park at the corner of North Avenue and Candler Park Drive, the garden is a site for the reintroduction of native plants and shrubs for bird and pollinator habitat.
Since the 1950s, Chimney Swifts and other aerial insectivores have experienced drastic population declines due to several factors, such as the increased use of pesticides that harms their main prey, flying insects, and the loss of swifts’ nesting and roosting habitat (formerly hollow trees and more recently, man- made chimneys). Chimney Swifts, now listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, have responded to these challenges by increasingly flocking to urban areas that offer abandoned factory smokestacks or historical home chimneys that have been left uncapped and which mimic their natural breeding and roosting sites.
Freedom Park is a free public park born out of formidable citizen activism linking the movements of environmentalism, urbanism, historic preservation and more. As one of Atlanta’s largest public green spaces, Freedom Park spans more than 200 acres, linking diverse areas such as the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site, Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, Poncey-Highland, the Carter Center and the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, Candler Park, Druid Hills, Virginia Highland, and Little Five Points.
Atlanta Audubon is building places where birds and people thrive. We create bird-friendly communities through conservation, education, and community engagement.
Updated April 9, 2020
Updated April 9, 2020
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has now been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), and Governor Brian Kemp extended the public health state of emergency through May 13, and a stay-at-home order remains in place through April 30. Schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year as the state attempts to limit the virus’ spread throughout Georgia.
Atlanta Audubon continues to evaluate this situation and is taking a series of precautionary measures to protect the most vulnerable members of our community. In an effort to be proactive and minimize transmission risks, the Atlanta Audubon office will remain closed through the month of April, with a re-open date to be determined. All staff will continue to work remotely. We are also canceling and postponing staff- and volunteer-led trips and events through the end of April, including rescheduling Atlanta Bird Fest for fall 2020. We encourage everyone to remain calm throughout this time and to stay abreast of the latest recommendations from health officials. (Resources are listed at the end of this document.)
We are evaluating this situation on a daily basis and will make additional updates as appropriate.
Out of an abundance of caution, we are announcing the following modifications to our upcoming activities. Contact information for the relevant staff are listed below each activity, if you have further questions or concerns.
FOR ALL ACTIVITIES
Atlanta Bird Fest Events
Atlanta Audubon Education Programs
Atlanta Audubon Travel Program
During this time of social distancing, Atlanta Audubon is developing a variety of digital resources on bird-related subjects for everyone to enjoy. These resources are being shared on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages, as well as on our website.
Again, we encourage everyone to keep informed of developments, as this outbreak is continuously evolving. Atlanta Audubon will continue to follow and adhere to recommendations issued by the CDC. Any changes to our programs and activities will be posted on our website, www.atlantaaudubon.org. General inquiries can be made to Atlanta Audubon at 678.973.2437. Please leave a message and someone will call you back.
Jared Teutsch, Executive Director
Esther Stokes, Board Chair
Georgia Department of Public Health — https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus
Georgia Department of Health Daily Status Report: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
Guest article by Audrey Pruitt, Trees Atlanta
The One Million Trees Initiative is the first of its kind in the United States to connect diverse communities and approaches that protect and improve the urban forest. Led by Trees Atlanta, this initiative is an innovative collaboration of 10 metro Atlanta cities and 10 Atlanta-based nonprofits, working together to combat local climate change and environmental stresses from urban growth.
The impacts of climate change are amplified in urban areas where rapidly growing populations and competing demands for land use intersect. The City of Atlanta is forecasted to more than double in population by 2050, and the same trend is predicted for the entire metro Atlanta region. As more people move into urban areas, demands on metro Atlanta's infrastructure grows. Investing in the natural infrastructure of trees can have high returns on investment and provide many short- and long-term benefits to people.
According to Matt Westmoreland, Post 2 At-Large member of the Atlanta City Council, “One million new trees in metro Atlanta would capture 1.4 billion gallons of water and 530,000 gallons of CO2 every year— reducing stormwater runoff, improving water quality, reducing rates of asthma and heat-related illnesses, and improving air quality.” This bold collaboration demonstrates how local action can make immediate impact. Connie Veates, Co-Executive Director of Trees Atlanta said, “The benefits of trees for the health and wellbeing of people and the urban ecology of metro Atlanta is abundant. Trees Atlanta is proud to be able to coordinate and lead this effort with our amazing nonprofit and municipal partners.”
The first city partner to officially join the One Million Tree Initiative is the City of Atlanta. The Atlanta City Council unanimously passed a resolution on Monday, February 17 supporting the collaborative effort. The first ten metro Atlanta cities to formally commit to joining the initiative are currently being finalized. Greg Levine, Co-Executive Director of Trees Atlanta added, “We’ve been amazed at the level of interest from cities and other municipalities who have reached out to us since we announced the One Million Trees Initiative. We are definitely excited about the possibility of expanding the partnerships beyond ten cities.”
The one million trees will include trees planted in city land and public projects, preserved in forested areas, and installed by individuals on private property, including residential yards and businesses. The One Million Trees Initiative will be completed within ten years.
The initial nonprofit partners committed to the One Million Trees Initiative are Atlanta Audubon, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Georgia Conservancy, Park Pride, The Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, WABE, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, and Trees Atlanta.
About Trees Atlanta: Founded in 1985, Trees Atlanta works tirelessly to address Atlanta’s tree loss, protect its forests, and create new green space. Trees Atlanta is a nationally recognized nonprofit citizens' group that protects and improves Atlanta’s urban forest by planting, conserving, and educating. www.treesatlanta.org
About Atlanta Audubon: Atlanta Audubon is building places where birds and people thrive. We create bird-friendly communities through conservation, education, and community engagement.
GEORGIA ORNITHOLOGICAL SOCIETY AWARDS GRANT TO ATLANTA AUDUBON FOR PHASE TWO HABITAT RESTORATION WORK AT BIG CREEK GREENWAY
Atlanta Audubon was recently awarded a grant in the amount of $20,900 from the Georgia Ornithological Society’s (GOS) Bill Terrell Avian Conservation Grants fund to implement a second phase of bird-friendly habitat restoration at Big Creek Greenway in Alpharetta. Atlanta Audubon will restore ten additional acres of bird-friendly habitat, building on the 12 acres restored during phase one of this project in 2019. Atlanta Audubon will be partnering with the City of Alpharetta, Georgia Native Plant Society, and the Ed Isakson/Alpharetta Family YMCA to complete this work.
Big Creek Greenway is a linear park extending approximately eight miles from its northernmost point near Windward Parkway in Alpharetta to its southernmost point near Old Alabama Road in Roswell. This park has proven to be an important greenspace for resident and migratory birds in Fulton County, with more than 190 bird observations recorded on eBird, a real-time, online database that has revolutionized the way the birding community reports and accesses information about birds.
The focus of this restoration project will be to create bird-friendly habitat by removing invasive and exotic plant species such as Chinese privet and English Ivy, and installing native plants as appropriate that will assist resident and migratory birds to use the area as nesting, foraging, and stopover habitat.
In addition to the restoration work, Atlanta Audubon will monitor bird activity at the site and will create a set of data from which to better inform conservation decisions in the future. In particular, the data collected through field surveys and banding sessions will provide valuable information on individual and species movement, survival rates, annual apparent reproductive success, habitat selection, species density at focal locations, site fidelity, and dispersal of offspring. Additionally, this project will allow Atlanta Audubon to conduct volunteer work days and community education programming, which will help raise awareness of the importance of birds and healthy habitats.
“Atlanta Audubon’s restoration work at Big Creek Greenway is central to our efforts to make a difference for important urban public green spaces in Atlanta through our participation in National Audubon’s Bird Friendly Communities Program,” says Jared Teutsch, Atlanta Audubon Executive Director. “Alpharetta’s Big Creek Greenway is a highly used public amenity, not only by birders, but also by walkers, joggers, cyclists, and others who enjoy the outdoors. This project combines habitat restoration work with ornithological study, community engagement, and strong public-private partnerships to educate the public about the important dual roles that our parks must play as recreational and therapeutic spaces for people and high quality habitat for wildlife.”
Birds that will benefit from the habitat restoration work include several species that are listed on Georgia’s State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP), including the Brown-headed Nuthatch, Common Grackle, Chimney Swift, Brown Thrasher, Wood Thrush, and Rusty Blackbird. SWAP is a statewide strategy to conserve populations of native wildlife species and the natural habitats they need before these animals, plants, and places become rarer and more costly or difficult to conserve.
“The City of Alpharetta is grateful for our partnership with Atlanta Audubon, whose efforts benefit the local wildlife and residents,” says Jason Binder, Alpharetta City Council Member. “Maintaining natural habitats is essential for us to maintain the natural beauty and wildlife we all enjoy in Alpharetta.”
For more information on the Big Creek Greenway, visit www.alpharetta.ga.us/government/departments/recreation-parks/facilities/big-creek-greenway.
Atlanta Audubon Society is building places where birds and people thrive. We create birds -friendly communities through conservation, education, and community engagement.