By Taylor Rhoades, Houston Audubon Young Professionals Advisory Council 2019-2021
In 2018, Houston Audubon joined forces with the Houston Zoo to learn more about what Houstonians are doing to help native and migratory bird species at home and pinpoint the top behaviors that individuals can take to have the largest influence on creating natural spaces that would provide suitable habitat/resources for birds in the Houston area. For one year, a group of 17 Zoo employees from 12 different departments committed to taking bird-friendly actions at home and shared their experiences with Houston Audubon to provide insight into the challenges and successes they encountered when implementing the following behaviors:
- Plant and maintain native plants for birds
- Install and maintain a water feature
- Install and maintain a nest box
- Install and maintain a bird feeder
Fast forward to 2020, at the height of the pandemic, Houston Audubon’s Young Professionals Advisory Council (YPAC) took up the mantle and continued this work, putting their own bird-friendly skills to the test. Over the course of six months, YPAC members used regular team meetings and text communications to share their struggles and successes with other team members as well as hold each other accountable to the commitments they had made. As part of this process, the team also worked together to help come up with alternative commitments for individuals without access to an outdoor space at home, like buying bird-friendly coffee or putting up window stickers to prevent bird strikes.
All the information gathered from Houston Zoo and YPAC participants inspired council members to re-design Houston Audubon’s Bird-Friendly Yards Certification Program so that it can realistically meet the needs of a greater number of Houstonians, moving people to action and ensuring long-term, wildlife-saving successes.
As we dive into 2022, we are so excited to announce the launch of the new and improved Bird Friendly Spaces Program! Created by YPAC members and based on their own hands-on experiences implementing bird-friendly behaviors, this program aims to connect all Houstonians to the wonder and beauty of nature while improving life for birds, ourselves, and for our city.
To learn more about the program and how you can participate visit: http://www.birdfriendlyhouston.org/spaces/