With more areas in the CNMI becoming urbanized, a nonprofit organization is pushing for “native landscaping” or planting of native trees to improve residential and commercial yards and make the islands more “bird-friendly.”
Micronesica Bird Conservation president Shelly Kremer said there are numerous local trees that the public can plant in their yards to attract and provide habitation for both endemic and non-native birds.
Kremer said birds are important for seed dispersal, pollination, and keeping trees healthy as some birds eat the insects that feed on tree leaves. She noted a recent study in Guam that showed birds are important for survival and regeneration of forests.
According to Kremer, birds are “resilient” and not picky on selecting their habitats as they thrive in limestone forests, open and secondary forests, and in urban areas.
“The urban areas are where we can actually begin to target and do a better job in increasing bird densities. It's quite simple,” noted Kremer.
She said that a simple “litmus test” would determine if one's yard is doing well or needs improvement in terms of attracting birds. If Eurasian Tree Sparrow is the only species present in the area, it means that the area has a lot of grass and open space and is rated poorly.
The presence of other species like Honeyeater or the Bridled White-eye means the area is good while the presence of Rufous Fantail indicates that the area is doing really well.
“If you didn't pass the litmus test, plant trees to improve your yard,” said Kremer.
Besides providing shelter for wildlife, trees also provide food and medicine, aid water conservation, reduce heat, prevent flooding and soil erosion, among others, Kremer said.
She noted that their group plans to make presentations to increase awareness about the importance of native landscaping, planting trees and other practices that will support their mission.
Founded in 2012, Micronesica Bird Conservation is dedicated to the protection and preservation of the avifauna of the Micronesia Islands where there is a high rate of endemism for some of the most threatened and endangered bird species in the world.
Other officials of the group are Cooper Schraudenbach, vice president; Yogi Singh, secretary; Robert Kremer, treasurer; and Lanie Zarones, board member.
For more information, visit www.micronesicaboardconservation.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.