– By Alison Kennedy Hand, MS, Wellness Director, Florida Presbyterian Homes
This month’s wellness focus is centered around the environmental dimension of wellness. Environmental well-being promotes interaction with nature and your personal environment. For example, resident Debbie G. is a nature lover. She has taken this love to create a good habitat for the birds that live within our community — specifically the Wood Ducks and Purple Martins. I took the opportunity to ask Debbie a few questions regarding birds here at FPH.
Alison: Since last year, have you done anything new with the Wood Duck boxes or Purple Martin houses?
Debbie: The Wood Duck boxes need maintenance every year. I built enough new Wood Duck boxes to replace the rest of the boxes. The entrance holes were sized to be specific for Wood Ducks. By taking this approach, the boxes were no longer accessible by the Black Bellied Whistling Ducks and that has cut down on the presence of this invasive species. Without the help of our FPH maintenance team, these boxes would not have been installed. The Purple Martin barns also have been cleaned out, refreshed and re-installed.
Alison: What other birds have you seen on our campus? Which bird is your favorite?
Debbie: It’s always nice to see our regular bird visitors, but there are a few that are a pleasant surprise. Eastern Phoebes are occasional visitors. There is a flock of four Green Parakeets that come by every so often. And while I haven’t seen them, the Northern Parulas, Barred Owls, Eastern Screech Owls and Black-Crowned Night Herons can be heard.
Alison: What can people do at FPH to promote bird conservation and habitat preservation?
Debbie: Birds need food, water, shelter and nesting areas. Bird food spilled on the ground can attract undesirable critters. Bird feeders are a good alternative. Bird baths need regular maintenance and the water needs to be exchanged to prevent harboring mosquitoes. Trees & shrubs can be shelter, along with a food source for birds that feed on insects. When birds are in nesting season, food that is formulated for nesting birds can be offered. Ways to promote bird conservation can be simple. Keep track of the birds you see on a daily basis. Audubon sponsors an annual event for backyard birds to report what they see during a specific time. By learning your local birds daily, you will be able to participate in the annual event.
Environmental Wellness Challenge: If you want to start keeping a list of daily birds, there is a good reference source for bird identification. A free electronic resource is available called Audubon Bird Guide by the National Audubon Society. Take the time to download the free app and learn about your backyard birds. This interaction with nature and your personal environment is not only enjoyable, but also supports your overall health and well-being.