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Birds, bees… and other pollinators – Sustainable Silverton partners with Oregon Garden for educational series

By Melissa Wagoner

This spring Sustainable Silverton’s Urban Natural Resources Action Team is enlisting the help of local experts to hold an educational series about birds, bees and butterflies at The Oregon Garden.

“It aligns with our mission statement and Action Team goals and the need to find a way to create more awareness about preserving or maintaining natural resources,” Sustainable Silverton member Kelley Morehouse explained.

Naturescaping: Building Backyard Wildlife


On Saturday, April 8 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Marion County Master Gardener Stephanie Hazen will facilitate a class aimed at identifying ways to provide food, shelter, water and a safe habitat for wildlife right in your own backyard.

“Backyards comprise an amazing amount of acreage,” Hazen pointed out. “If we all created habitat we could offset the roads, buildings and agriculture fields that now occupy what used to be native habitat.”

Largely focused on birds, bees and butterflies, Hazen recommends these small steps toward making a backyard more hospitable to nature: plant native species that bloom throughout the year, leave seed heads on dormant plants during the winter months to feed the birds and make sure clean water is always available. But even without a backyard there are ways you can help.

“Potted plants are helpful,” she pointed out. “Planting median strips in neighborhoods is helpful. Getting city parks to allow volunteers to maintain a pollinator garden is helpful. Getting your neighbors all involved is helpful.”

And teaching the community the best ways to do it all is why she became a Master Gardner.

“I wanted to volunteer to teach people how to create back yard habitat for native insects, birds, reptiles , amphibians and mammals,” she said. “Creating meadows, hedge rows, planting trees to create a near natural environment for native species.”

The Early-Bird Bird-Walk

On Saturday, May 20 from 8 to 10 a.m. retired US Fish and Wildlife Service Biologists Ron Garst and Jim Esch will lead both novice and expert birders on a walk through The Oregon Garden’s many paths.

“The Oregon Garden lends itself to successful birding because of the diversity of the Garden’s numerous native plants and varieties of nursery stock that attract birds,” Garst said. “Also, the several sizeable areas of native habitats (Oregon white oak, Douglas fir forest, wetlands, ponds, marshes, and open fields and grasses) attract and support many of Oregon’s bird species.” And spring is one of the best times to catch a glimpse.

Plants that help attract pollinating insects and birds will be discussed in the educational series. Submitted photos
Plants that help attract pollinating insects and birds will be discussed in the educational series. Submitted photos

“Many of the smaller and colorful songbird species are returning now from wintering in Central and South America to nest and rear their young in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and foothills habitats…” Garst said. “On a good day with excellent birding conditions, we could expect to see and/or hear 20 to 30 species, mostly songbirds, but possibly woodpeckers, hawks, owls and/or some waterfowl.”

Sturdy walking shoes or light hiking shoes and weather appropriate outerwear is recommended for participation in this event and, while binoculars are not required, they can be helpful. It is also important to note that, while the pace of the expedition will be leisurely, participants will be on their feet the majority of the time covering an estimated mile of trail.

“The Bird-Watch event held last year was a great deal of fun,” Morehouse said of the program which has been designed to be both entertaining and informative, providing attendees with not just knowledge about what species of birds currently call the Willamette Valley home but also how to keep them coming back.

“Several bird populations across the landscape are in significant decline and our attention to their fate is a gateway to our understanding of ways to help them,” Garst explained. “Our bird species are like the ‘canary in the mine’ that shows us a future we can celebrate if we take the right steps.”

Birds, Bees & Butterflies Educational Series

• Naturescaping: Building Backyard Wildlife on Saturday, April 8 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

• The Early-Bird Bird-Walk on Saturday, May 20 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

• Where: The Oregon Garden

 • Cost: Garden admission

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