By Nathan Ham
The High Country Audubon Society will officially break ground on a new bird-feeding garden at Hardin Park School at 3:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
Watauga Schools Superintendent, Dr. Scott Elliott, Hardin Park School Principal Mary Smalling, Rep. Jonathan Jordan and Audubon NC’s Director of Conservation, Curtis Smalling, will all be speaking during the event.
Hardin Park School students, Appalachian State University botany students and High Country Audubon Society volunteers will be planting 20 native plant species in the garden. Some of those plants include berry-producing plants, such as serviceberry, blueberry, viburnum and holly, plants to attract hummingbirds including columbine, bee balm, butterfly milkweed and Virginia sweetspire, and perennials that attract pollinators and provide seeds for the birds (black-eyed Susan, purple coneflower, golden aster, goldenrod and ironweed).
“Birds are counting on lots of great food for energy and to help them raise chicks this spring,” said Curtis Smalling, director of conservation for Audubon North Carolina. “By adding native plants to one’s yard, balcony, or local park, anyone can attract more birds and give them the best chance of survival in the face of a changing climate and development.”
The High Country Audubon Society will work with Hardin Park School faculty to develop a curriculum for the bird garden. Students will observe pollinators and birds in the garden using binoculars from benches placed beneath windows. Older students at the school will conduct research projects in the garden.
This project is supported by the National Audubon Society’s Coleman and Susan Burke Center for Native Plants and the B. W. Wells Grant of the NC Native Plant Society.