On the first day of every month for the past six months, laminated posters have been mounted on the reader board at the entrance to the native plant garden in Mercerdale Park. Photos and information about the “Bird of the Month” and the “Plant of the Month” are displayed for park visitors as an educational outreach program of Concerned Citizens for Mercer Island Parks (CCMIP).
Facts of note: May’s featured bird, the Anna’s hummingbird, can nosedive at a speed of 60 mph; the chestnut backed chickadee (June’s bird), flies in a bouncy flight path; July’s Plant of the Month, salmonberry, provides nectar, berries and nesting cover for birds; In August, visitors learned to discriminate between native trailing blackberry and invasive Himalayan blackberry; September’s featured bird, the song sparrow, appropriately named, knows as many as 20 tunes, with some 1,000 variations.
The October Bird and Plant of the month posters are now on display. (Spoiler alert: The October Bird of the Month is the spunky red breasted nuthatch.) The posters are supported by a grant from the Washington Native Plant Society, which also funded the purchase of 50 permanent plant signs, many with color photos. The signs have been installed in the native plant garden to help visitors identify native plants.
For more information, to volunteer in the garden, and to sign a statement of support urging the city council to protect all of Mercer Island’s public parkland, go online to protectMIparks.org or email protectMIparks@gmail.com.