(pictured above: David and Karol Saltiel and their sons, Derek and Dylan, pose in front of their home.)
What is good for birds is great for people.
That was Kim Brand’s thinking when she received a $10,000 Fellowship Grant from Toyota TogetherGreen by Audubon. She used the grant to lead a partnership between Audubon North Carolina and Habitat for Humanity to make over one home at a time in the Boston-Thurmond neighborhood with bird-friendly practices in mind.
In celebration of Earth Day, first-time homeowner David Saltiel and his family received the bird-friendly treatment last month. The Saltiels worked with volunteers to transform their new home with a beautifully landscaped yard, complete with native, non-invasive plants and nest boxes for bluebirds and chickadees.
In all, six homes and two public spaces in Boston-Thurmond will be made over with native plants and birdhouses.
“The driving force behind Bird-Friendly Communities is that simple actions can have a positive impact for birds and people in city-spaces,” said Brand, Bird-Friendly Communities coordinator for Audubon North Carolina and a Forsyth Audubon board member. “To us, installing a nest box in your backyard is a small action, but it can make all the difference for a family of birds to survive and thrive for many years.”
The Bird-Friendly Communities partnership program focuses conservation efforts where most people live – in cities and towns. Audubon believes individuals can play a critical role in fostering healthy wildlife populations by making simple daily lifestyle choices, such as constructing a nest box or using native plants when gardening. Citizens are given the tools they need to create habitats that benefit birds and people.
David Saltiel said he always wanted a birdhouse when he was a child in Puerto Rico; now, he has two to share with his sons.
“This program is a dream come true for the sake of my family,” said Saltiel, a supervisor, bartender, and server at Macaroni Grill.
His wife, Karol, a native of the Dominican Republic, works at a local Subway. They have two sons, Derek, 3, and Dylan,1.
A few of the volunteers who helped on planting day were future Habitat homeowners. They, too, have expressed an interest in having the bird-friendly treatment.
“Neighborhood beautification is a top priority of our organization and our residents, and these neighborhood planting days are important to Habitat for Humanity’s new neighborhood revitalization approach,” said Kelly Mitter, Habitat Forsyth’s director of Operations. “The Toyota TogetherGreen grant and Audubon partnership have given us the opportunity to landscape the yards much more extensively than ever before, creating outdoor spaces that are friendly to people as well as birds.”
The native, non-invasive, bird-friendly plants used at the Saltiel’s home include Sweetshrub, Dwarf Yaupon, Thread-leaf Coreopsis, Black-eyed Susan, Purple Coneflower, Coral Honeysuckle, River Birch, Small’s Beardtounge, Green and Gold, Dwarf Blueberry, Serviceberry, Bee Balm and Winterberry.
Volunteers are invited to sign up for a planting day online at http://www.habitatforsyth.volunteerhub.com
Learn more about the conservation efforts of Audubon North Carolina and Toyota TogetherGreen at http://www.nc.audubon.org/bird-friendly-communities.