In its fifth year of work, the Rock Creek Songbirds continue to engage in community outreach, planting, and regenerating the park for migratory birds.
The Songbirds work with organizations like D.C.’s Audubon Society to raise awareness about the resources that once made up the park, but are now suffering due to the city’s growth and development. Steve Dryden, the initiative’s director, says it’s important to raise awareness about the park since many people are unaware of its history.
Piney Branch Creek used to be an extensive wetland and much of the creek has been buried. Still, though, there still is a lot of water on the grounds.
“This water is actually coming out 24/7,” Dryden said. “It’s very vigorous, and it actually has this orangey color which is in the soil,” or natural iron deposits in the earth.
Rock Creek Park is home to a number of migratory birds and has been for many years, Dryden said. Many warblers migrate through the park every year. While some birds simply fly through and continue towards their destination, others stay and even make their nests in the trees.
Keeping the trees regenerating has become a main concern for the Songbirds,as D.C.’s urban setting and rapid growth have had a major impact on the park’s ability to do so naturally. Another concern are invasive species.
“There are vines, that were unfortunately brought in for ornamental purposes, that grow up into the trees,” Dryden said. “They can actually blanket [the trees] and kill them.”
To combat the rising concerns of tree growth and regeneration, Dryden said the Songbirds are focusing their efforts on planting trees and removing the invasive species.
Since its founding, the organization has planted about 500 trees.