Making a Home for Birds with the San Juan Bay Estuary Program

On June 12, 2017, the Capetillo Community Garden, Nursery, and Forest were the site of a wonderful set of workshops and activities thanks to the San Juan Bay Estuary Program! “Creando Hogar para las Aves,” or “Making Home for Birds” spanned three days, and the program organized five activities for local children in the hopes of introducing birding and habitat restoration.

The first workshop focused on how important it is to identify local urban birds. Participants learned bird calls and songs, then embarked on a birding adventure. Activity leaders guided teams of two on a walk around the community neighborhood, one teammate with a pair of binoculars and the other with a focal species identification sheet. The children were able to test their new skills, using sight and sound to identify all the birds they observed.

The next morning, the second workshop took place in the Capetillo community garden. Children and adults took advantage of the opportunity to use their identification techniques in a 10-minute observation survey. Then, they got to work on gardening! In the greenhouse, children learned how native plants create a more welcoming and healthy environment for diverse local birds. Angel Guevarez taught participants about a selection of native plants and common trees, and explained how each of the species attract birds. Following the lesson, children prepared the soil and garden area for sowing sunflower and other native plant seeds.

The last day of the event began with another opportunity to observe local birds, this time at the local Juan Mendez stream. The rest of the day was spent on an arts activity, in which participants created water feeders out of recycled bottles and planter plates from the gardening activity the day before. Adults assisted children with cutting and assembling the pieces, and everyone had the chance to decorate the feeders together. Another small group worked to clean and repair older feeders in the nearby urban forest.

It was inspiring to see children helping each other learn to identify species, improve local green spaces, and care for their feathered friends.

Looking forward, the community is energized and ready to continue their work in the Capetillo community garden and forest, including an upcoming event to rehabilitate the walking trails in the forest and promote birding activities there.

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