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PA "Bird Towns" Take Flight - In Your Backyard

November 22, 2010

AUDUBON, Pa. - Here's something for bird-lovers: The goal is to make birds feel as at-home in your backyard as you do. A new partnership between the Pennsylvania community of Audubon and local communities called Bird Towns is taking flight in the Highlands and other southeastern areas of the state.

Steven Saffier, director of Audubon at Home, says his group can offer ideas about what plants, flowers or other elements might attract birds to a property. Once homeowners put the ideas to use, they feed information about the birds that show up into a website that Audubon tracks.

"And by monitoring the birds in our backyard, we're able to indicate if we're doing a good job of providing resources for those birds."

Saffier says the million-acre Highlands and the communities within it are an ideal breeding ground for Bird Towns.

"There are important bird areas: those are areas that are designated as special, important places for bird populations, or a specific bird population. We can actually mark increases in population numbers and diversity by getting people involved."

With the improvements that Bird Towns can bring about, Saffier says some of the damage development has had on birds can be reversed.

"It's really about improving the ecological services that were once there before buildings were built, and we can re-establish some of those services by creating habitat in our backyards."

Saffier says Bird Towns' benefits don't end there. The plants and flowers that will attract more birds can also help control stormwater runoff, and new trees and shrubs help remove carbon from the atmosphere. Saffier says the goal is for the Bird Towns idea to eventually spread its wings nationwide.

More information can be found at

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA