November 2013 - Parks & Recreation - 55

Kids inspect their collected specimens in a
butterfly net at Baltimore's Leakin Park.

" Teaming " with Wildlife
The city of Baltimore is famous for
its birds - the Orioles and Ravens
sports teams are so popular that
many have nicknamed the city " Birdland. " But many do not know that
the city is also teeming with tons of
other wildlife, including red foxes,
raccoons, beavers, possums, turtles,
owls and deer.
" We have so much wildlife, " says
Mary Hardcastle, volunteer coordinator for BCRP. " Step outside and
you can see eagles, hawks and a
host of amphibians and mammals
in our city. "
When completed, the Baltimore
Community Wildlife Habitat program will have significantly increased
the amount of food, water, shelter
and places to raise young for all of the
city's creatures. In addition to these
direct conservation gains, the program
brings a multitude of other benefits to
the city, including beautification, community engagement and improved
health for citizens. Baltimore residents
can learn more about certification at
www.nwf.org/bmorewild.
" Gardening for wildlife is a great
way to start a discussion about a host
of other environmental and health
issues, " Falk says. " Through this program, we are able to educate people
about eliminating pesticide use, conserving water and increasing native
plantings. It also provides a platform
for the city to address important challenges like stormwater pollution, pollinator decline and invasive species. "

Mary Hardcastle

" As a conservation organization, it
is our goal to inspire people to do their
part, starting here in our backyard of
Baltimore and the Chesapeake Bay, "
says John Racanelli, CEO of the National Aquarium. " We are dedicated
to a healthy harbor, and we believe
that can happen if we all get involved
in the greening of our city. "
Groups involved in the project have
started planning and conducting a
range of community engagement
workshops, cleanups and activities
within the city. Audubon Maryland-DC has organized a Youth Bird
Watching event for 6th- through 12th-

grade students, and other events are
planned to teach residents the fundamentals of wildlife gardening. There
is also a Facebook page at www.face
book.com/bmorewild to engage the
online community.
" This project starts and ends
with the people of Baltimore, "
Falk says. " With the help of our
partners, we are confident that Baltimore will be one of our most successful Certified Community Habitats to date. "
Aislinn Maestas is a Senior Communications
Manager for the National Wildlife Federation
(maestas@nwf.org).

Restoring Habitat for the Baltimore Oriole
Once common in rural and urban areas alike, the Baltimore Oriole is a black and brilliant
orange neotropical songbird that nests in a very wide habitat range throughout North
America, all the way from the southern states up through Canada and west to beyond
the Mississippi River. It winters south to Mexico and throughout Central America, thus
the term neotropical.
As part of a class of songbirds with similar migratory and breeding behavior, this
species, along with many others like it such as tanagers, warblers, thrushes and flycatchers, is in serious decline in the Americas due to loss of habitat and increased use
of pesticides and herbicides.
The Baltimore Oriole is beloved to Maryland. Perhaps no other bird or animal symbolizes the state more. The bright yellow-orange breast and deep black head and back of the
male perfectly matched the colors of Lord Baltimore, one of the founders of Maryland,
and the colors of this official bird of Maryland are represented in the distinctive Maryland
state flag. Once common in farms, orchards and even urban areas, the unusual hanging
nest woven by the Baltimore Oriole was a welcome sight in the upper branches of sycamore and elm trees, and the bird's preferred food source - noxious caterpillars, gypsy
moths, cankerworms and bagworms - endears it to people even more.
The restoration of this iconic species throughout its historic range in the Baltimore
region is one of the goals of the Community Wildlife Habitat program. Joan Cwi, president of the Baltimore Bird Club, a chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society, says,
" The Baltimore Oriole population is actually fairly stable and probably more prevalent
in Baltimore City than one might expect. " She notes that they still can be found in a
number of the historic city parks, but are difficult to find since they are high-canopy
birds. She notes, " Local decline of the Baltimore Oriole is blamed in part on the loss of
their favored large trees, especially elm (from Dutch Elm Disease) and sycamores. Alas,
these types of trees are not being planted much because they are prone to disease and
insect damage. Overall, increasing the canopy can help. "
For more information about the Baltimore Oriole, visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's webpage at www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/baltimore_oriole/lifehistory.
- Richard J. Dolesh

W W W. N R PA . O R G | N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 3 |

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November 2013 - Parks & Recreation

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