Urban Oasis Program

Something great is happening in our neighborhood. Small areas of public land throughout New Haven are being transformed into islands of bird habitat in a sea of urban development.

The idea is to create super areas that are overly abundant with plants that produce fruit and seeds and that host insects. Many hours have been put in already to remove invasive non-native vegetation, plant indigenous trees, shrubs, and perennials, and erect deer netting. These ‘Urban Oases’ may not support large populations of nesting birds but will provide critical stop over areas during spring and fall migrations. Think migration hotspots.

The initiative to create these areas has been spearheaded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Audubon Connecticut (the state office of the National Audubon Society), in partnership with: Common Ground High School, Urban Farm and Environmental Center; Yale Urban Resources Initiative; the City of New Haven Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees; Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Long Island Sound Study; Yale Peabody Museum; Menunkatuck Audubon Society; New Haven Public Schools; and local neighborhood groups.

Some of these Urban Oases sites are within Important Bird Areas (IBA), Lighthouse Point Park and the new West River Memorial/Edgewood Parks dedicated on June 11, 2016. Other Urban Oases sites are in Beaver Ponds Park and East Shore Park to name a few.

Audubon Connecticut has conducted invertebrate and bird surveys to determine the success of the planting and management efforts. If the area hosts a more diverse, indigenous population of plants there will be an increase in insects. And insects are bird food, food that is needed during migration.

What can Member of the New Haven Bird Club can do to support the Urban Oases?

Go birding!

  • Visit one of the Urban Oases sites and report you sightings to eBird


Visit an Urban Oases and keep a record of all the birds of each species you see. Then submit your observations for just the urban oases to eBird.org. Directions to the Urban Oases are here.

  • What to bring: binoculars, a field guide or bird identification app, appropriate clothing based on the weather, and your phone.
  • When you arrive at the site, record the date and time.
  • Mornings, particularly in April – May and August – October when migrating songbirds are passing through Connecticut, are recommended.
  • Plan on spending at least five minutes at the site, giving birds’ time to adjust to your presence.
  • Records the number of birds of each species that you see. Make a note if a bird is flying over (f/o) the site versus foraging in the vegetation.
  • You can count birds at just one or several Urban Oases and make as many visits as time permits.

Entering Your Observations into eBird:

  1. Go to: org and click on Submit Observations.
  2. You will need to set up an account if you do not already have one.
  3. The first time you enter data for an Urban Oases you will need to Find it on a Map. After that, the site will appear under: Choose from your Locations.
  4. Enter: New Haven in the box beneath Find it on a Map. Then enter the name of the park in the Zoom to box and hit return.
  5. You will see a map of the park. Click on the icons until you find the Urban Oases, then click: Continue.
  6. Select: Stationary as the Observation Type, then fill out the date, time, duration, and party size for your visit to the Urban Oases. Click: Continue.
  7. Now you will enter the number of birds that you saw of each species. If you saw a sparrow, woodpecker, warbler, or blackbird, but were unable to identify it, you can enter a number under sparrow sp., woodpecker sp., etc.
  8. If a bird flew over the site, click add details and write: flyover.
  9. If you feel that you identified all the birds that you saw at the Urban Oases, click “Yes” indicating that you are submitting a complete checklist. Then click Submit.


  • Help with a bird survey.

There are two more survey dates Sep 21 and Oct 05. These dates fall in the middle the warbler and sparrow migrations and expertise is needed.

Please contact Craig Repasz 203-745-6683 crepasz@hotmail.com

What else can we do?

Many of the Urban Oases sites have local neighborhood support groups like the Friends of Beaver Ponds Park that will fight invasives, water new plantings, and work on trails. However West River Memorial Park Urban Oases site is not receiving any such love except from one stalwart volunteer from Menunkatuck Audubon Society and he needs help.

The area has new planting of native shrubs, flowers, and grasses. The area of has now been inundated with mungwort that has choked out meadow flowers (yes the area is great for butterflies) and fruit bearing shrubs. If we can get a group of five to ten people to spend a few hours with volunteers from Menukatuck Chapter and with the support of New Haven Parks and Recreation, we can clean the area of the mugwort and give these new plantings a fighting chance. We may need volunteers to monitor the site in the spring.

bayberry-and-mugwort plantings

We would like to set this work party sometime in October. Please contact Craig Repasz (crepasz@hotmail.com)








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