The Audubon’s Habitat Oases program identifies, improves and conserves important stop-over habitat for migrating songbirds all along the Atlantic migratory flyway, focusing on urban and suburban areas and other landscapes where there is limited quality habitat. The program, performed in collaboration with Audubon chapters, state and municipal parks departments, and other groups, engages volunteer birdwatchers – citizen scientists – in migratory songbird surveys of urban/suburban green spaces. The surveys help to determine the characteristics of high quality stop-over habitat and which species of plants are most beneficial as food sources for migrating songbirds.
Audubon and its partners are using the results of this study to promote the protection of critical stop-over habitats by helping government agencies, corporations, land trusts, and other landowners make informed land use and land protection decisions. They also work to improve the quality of public and private lands as stop-over habitat for migrating birds by guiding the management and landscaping practices of natural resource managers, private landowners and professional landscapers and strive to develop regionally-specific lists of “bird-friendly” native plants that may be used to guide landscaping practices in parks, gardens and backyards.
Patrick Comins is a graduate of Trinity College in Hartford, and has worked in the bird conservation arena for the last 15 years. Patrick began his career with the Connecticut Audubon Society, doing bird surveys on the coast at the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge and then worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service as a biological technician at the refuge. He has been with Audubon Connecticut as the Director of Bird Conservation for Connecticut since 2000, overseeing Connecticut’s Important Bird Areas and other conservation programs. He is the principal author of Protecting Connecticut’s Grassland Heritage. Patrick is a past resident of the Connecticut Ornithological Association and was the 2007 recipient of their Mabel Osgood Wright Award. He has written several articles on bird conservation and identification for the Connecticut Warbler and is currently chairman and vice president of the Friends of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.
Michelle Frankel, Ph.D., is a Conservation Biologist with Audubon Connecticut and is coordinating the Habitat Oases program in CT, and facilitating the implementation of the program in a number of other states along the Atlantic migratory flyway. Michelle previously worked with Audubon of Florida, where she originally piloted the Habitat Oases program. Prior to her work with Audubon, she was Education Director for Earthspan, a nonprofit that develops and applies advanced technologies for wildlife conservation. Michelle received her Ph.D. in behavioral ecology from Boston University, focusing on forest fragmentation effects on migratory songbirds. She subsequently pursued a post-doctoral fellowship with Tel Aviv University and the International Center for the Study of Bird Migration in Israel, where she studied the impacts of urbanization on the globally-threatened Lesser Kestrel.