Like many of us, newcomer Elisa Vele-Tabaddor is intrigued by birds and eager to learn more about them. She will be writing about the birds she sees in our parks as the seasons progress.
By Elisa Vele-Tabaddor
Did you know Rhode Island’s state bird is a chicken called the Rhode Island Red? Well, I can’t say I’ve seen one of those walking around the neighborhood, but as a new East Side resident I do see a thriving and diverse bird population. The Blackstone Park Conservation District, and the greenway of which it is part, hosts approximately 150 avian species, from the common Blue Jays and Chipping Sparrows to the more unique Great Horned Owls, Kentucky Warbler, and Veery.
The wooded greenway that stretches north from the Blackstone Conservation District through the grounds of Butler Hospital and Swan Point Cemetery and beyond, provides spots for birds migrating from North to South America and back (and points in between) to rest and replenish. The Seekonk River–the upper estuary linking Blackstone River and the Narragansett Bay—hosts unique breeding and migratory birds.
In the winter months and year-round, one can see Northern Cardinals, Lincoln Sparrows, Blue Jays, Black-capped Chickadees, Wild Turkeys and a variety of Woodpeckers and Finches. Hooded Mergansers, Red-tailed Hawks, and a Bald Eagle were recently seen on (or along) the Seekonk.
Hairy Woodpecker (pictured at right)
Especially intriguing is the Peregrine Falcon. The RI Audubon Society noticed this fierce creature in downtown Providence in 2010 as well as several nesting areas atop buildings (Audubon Society of RI Report, 2010). They have also been sighted in Blackstone Park, flying overhead, perched, and hunting.
We invite you to share your own winter bird sightings by commenting on this post.
What is the Blackstone Parks Conservancy doing to support our local bird population?
Natural parklands in the Blackstone Conservation District contain 45 acres of woods with hiking trails and two ponds. There is excellent bird watching along the 2,400 feet of shore by the Seekonk River.
With loss of habitat a major cause of decline of many bird species in Rhode Island and elsewhere, the Blackstone Parks Conservancy (BPC) works with the Providence Parks Department and other partners to restore and maintain local natural areas so that birds and other wildlife can breed and continue to thrive in the Providence community. Thus the shrubs in the new planting at the corner of River Road and Irving were chosen for their appeal to birds and butterflies.
We encourage natural re-growth and remove invasive species in order to maintain a suitable habitat. And last year we co-hosted a photo exhibit to educate the public about Blackstone woods. With spring and fall cleanups and the help of many unsung volunteers all year long, we help keep River Road clean. We also work to reduce pollution of the water flowing into the Seekonk River estuary through York Pond in order to protect wildlife.
For more information about birding in our neighborhood and beyond, please visit the sites below.
The Rhode Island Audubon Society: www.asri.org
The Nature Conservancy: http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/rhodeisland/index.htm