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Art & Museums

Conservation work earns Pittsburgh national 'bird treaty' status

Mary Pickels
| Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, 3:36 p.m.
This photo from the Allegheny Bird Conservation Alliance's Facebook page shows the 2016 start of a project to remove several invasive understory species in key spots at Dead Man's Hollow in McKeesport. More recent work at the site included planting native shrubs and trees to provide natural forest structure and support rich caterpillar food sources for birds.
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This photo from the Allegheny Bird Conservation Alliance's Facebook page shows the 2016 start of a project to remove several invasive understory species in key spots at Dead Man's Hollow in McKeesport. More recent work at the site included planting native shrubs and trees to provide natural forest structure and support rich caterpillar food sources for birds.
Luke DeGroote , avian research coordinator for Powdermill Nature Reserve, stops to take in the sounds of migrating birds, during a bird count at Powdermill Nature Reserve's Avian Research Center in Cook Township, on May 3, 2017.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Luke DeGroote , avian research coordinator for Powdermill Nature Reserve, stops to take in the sounds of migrating birds, during a bird count at Powdermill Nature Reserve's Avian Research Center in Cook Township, on May 3, 2017.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History is leading the way on conserving Western Pennsylvania's bird population, bringing Pittsburgh national recognition.

The museum has brought together seven environmental organizations for a synergistic bird-conservation program, the Allegheny Bird Conservation Alliance (ABCA). Participating groups are the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Allegheny Land Trust, National Aviary, Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, Humane Animal Rescue Wildlife Center, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and American Bird Conservancy.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services has recognized the collaborative effort by designating Pittsburgh an Urban Bird Treaty City , according to a museum release.

The designation recognizes cities that bring together many partners to help preserve migratory birds and that work toward hazard reduction, citizen science and educational outreach.

"Our efforts to make Pittsburgh a more livable city for birds have resulted in Pittsburgh being designated as an Urban Bird Treaty City exactly 100 years after the signing of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act," says Luke DeGroote, avian research coordinator for the museum, in a release.

"Carnegie Museum of Natural History recognizes how beneficial birds are to our environment, and the enjoyment they bring to our lives," he says.

Along with the museum, the participating groups recruited 122 volunteers to restore 2.4 acres of Dead Man's Hollow Conservation Area in McKeesport by removing invasive species, and plant 387 native trees and shrubs. The groups also have provided native plants to 80 homeowners to help them improve their backyard habitats, and provided materials to reduce bird collisions with windows at 90 homes; they also provided and installed the window film at the Frick Environmental Center at Frick Park.

Matt Webb, urban bird conservation coordinator for the museum, coordinated volunteer efforts for BirdSafe Pittsburgh, a window-collision monitoring program.

Since the program's inception, 81 volunteers have found 1,038 birds that flew into windows, 250 of which were alive and taken to the Humane Animal Rescue Wildlife Center.

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MaryPickels.

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