Connecticut Audbon Society

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Rededication of Hartford Urban Bird Treaty creates a new agenda for conservation of the city’s birds

Two pairs of Eastern Bluebirds are nesting at Keney Park in Hartford. The Urban Bird Treaty will help bring Hartford residents closer to the city’s wildlife and natural areas. Photo by Brian Bennett.

May 19, 2023 — A coalition of federal and city officials along with statewide and local conservation groups renewed their commitment today to improving Hartford as a place for birds to thrive and for people to enjoy them.

Coalition members joined with city residents at Keney Park in Hartford to officially rededicate the Hartford Urban Bird Treaty.

A program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Urban Bird Treaty is a national network that works to improve bird habitat in urban areas, and to help city residents experience and learn about birds and the natural world. The program has grown since its start in 1999 to include 30 cities.

The rededicated plan updates the original 2011 Hartford Urban Bird Treaty. It sets the stage for a new “bird agenda” for the city, following Service guidelines. The agenda will make recommendations that align with the three main goals of the Urban Bird Treaty program.

  • Protect, restore, and enhance urban habitats for birds.
  • Reduce urban hazards to birds.
  • Educate and engage urban communities in caring about and conserving birds and their habitats

Service Acting Deputy Regional Director Scott Kahan said: “Working in cities to conserve migratory birds is critical in so many ways; by restoring habitat and reducing hazards we are not only benefitting birds and other wildlife, but also improving the health and well-being of families and children that live there. The City of Hartford is a shining example of how the Urban Bird Treaty program helps people recognize, enjoy, appreciate, and protect migratory birds and other wildlife right in their community.” 

Connecticut Audubon Executive Director Patrick Comins said: “In a state like Connecticut with large urban areas, cities are especially important for birds. Cities have pockets of high-quality habitat and other places where habitat can be improved or created. We set a goal in our 2018 Connecticut State of the Birds report to work toward improving urban bird habitat. We are thrilled to be able to do that here in Hartford, in this important Urban Bird Treaty partnership.”

Henry Hester, co-chair of Friends of Keney Park, said:  We are thrilled to announce the renewal of Hartford’s Urban Bird Treaty and proud to be partners with the next generation, putting youth at the forefront of our efforts. At Friends of Keney Park, we believe in building upon the present success of the Urban Bird Treaty and working together to protect our city’s wildlife. With this renewed commitment, we look forward to continuing our work to preserve and enhance the natural beauty of Keney Park and the greater Hartford community.”

Community First School Principal and Co-Founder Timothy Goodwin, who’s students hike in the park weekly said, “Our students have been monitoring birds and wildlife in the park for over two years and recently established a bluebird trail attracting two nesting pairs. Hands-on nature-centered learning out of doors in our own backyard helps our students connect to academic learning while establishing a sense of self. Our students and staff are ecstatic to attend the Urban Bird Treaty ceremony, and look forward to experiencing and learning more about the birds in our natural Hartford environment.”

Connecticut Public, the parent organization of WNPR Public Radio, is Connecticut Audubon’s official media sponsor of the Urban Bird Treaty rededication and of a series of events planned for summer. The renewal ceremony helped kick off Connecticut Audubon’s Annual Migration Madness weekend bird celebration and helped mark the organization’s 125th anniversary.

The updating and rededication of the Hartford Urban Bird Treaty is made possible by a generous gift from The Richard P. Garmany Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

The event at Keney Park was held during the peak of spring songbird migration. Connecticut Audubon’s 2018 Connecticut State of the Birds report, called “In Cities and Suburbs: A Fresh Look at How Birds Are Surviving in Connecticut,” noted that urban areas are extremely important for migrating birds, which need high quality habitat for resting and feeding as they build up energy to continue migrating and then breed.

The report identified Hartford as a prime location for the creation of more high-quality bird habitat. 

As an example of the abundance and diversity of birds, observers within the last few weeks have seen Red-tailed Hawks, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Eastern Bluebirds, and Savannah Sparrows among many other species at Keney Park. In fall, the park attracts migrating warblers, vireos, and other songbirds.

As part of the Urban Bird Treaty, Connecticut Audubon will hold at least four free programs in Hartford over the summer, at Keney Park, Colt Park, and elsewhere. Connecticut Audubon naturalists will lead bird walks and teach participants how to use binoculars and identify birds. Participants will also learn about the general natural history of the area and observe other wildlife and plants within the city parks.

Following each walk, there will be educational materials and activities available that will highlight the birds of Hartford as well as ways to access nature within the city.






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