Ruggiero Trust Funds Expansion of Consecration Dell Restoration
We are pleased to announce that the A. J. & M. D. Ruggiero Memorial Trust has awarded an $80,000 grant to the Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery to support a new phase of habitat restoration in Consecration Dell, an extraordinary natural resource and woodland in the heart of the cemetery. The project will continue the work started in 2016 on the steepest southern slopes of the Dell where Violet Path splits, a technically challenging worksite. This section is devoid of woodland understory vegetation, and our objective is to build “shrubland habitat,” identified in our 2014 Wildlife Action Plan as one of the critical missing habitats for birds at Mount Auburn.
Beneath the existing tree canopy, dominated by Red, Black, White, and Scarlet Oaks, we will install understory low-growing vegetation. The plant list is diverse and intermixed, utilizing native plants that will provide cover, food, and nesting opportunities for numerous species including a rapidly declining group of birds called neotropical migrant songbirds. The critical stopover habitat Mount Auburn provides for these warbler, vireos, tanagers, orioles, and other songbirds during their magnificent spring and fall migrations is the primary reason that the Massachusetts Audubon Society has given Mount Auburn Cemetery its Important Birding Area designation.
Several species of evergreen native shrubs that will be planted include rosebay rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum), mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), and bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica). These will provide year-round cover and nesting habitat for the resident birds of Mount Auburn. Additionally, numerous bird species eat the fruits of bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica), including the yellow-rumped warbler.
Among the deciduous plantings on our list are shadblow (Amelanchier x grandifolia), which produce June fruits renowned to be relished by numerous bird species including the sleek and elegant cedar waxwing.
We are thrilled to have the opportunity to expand the much-needed habitat space that we can provide to the diverse wildlife species that help make our landscape such a special place.
Top Photo: Cedar Waxwings by Al Parker.