Detroit Bird City

Detroit Bird City is a program that plants native wildflower meadows at disused Detroit city parks and turns them into beautiful community greenspaces with natural habitat beneficial to wildlife such as birds and pollinators.

Detroit Audubon partnered with the Detroit Parks and Recreation Department and General Services Department to establish the Detroit Bird City project. We are transforming unmaintained city parks and their neighboring vacant lots into Detroit Bird City parks, native flower meadows with components to welcome and engage residents. At each park we are applying: 1) community engagement and planning; 2) restoration through the planting of native species; 3) installation of signs, benches, and pathways; and 4) educational programs and conservation events. Detroit Bird City parks provide important habitat for wildlife and a welcoming community greenspace that requires minimal maintenance from the city.

Each Detroit Bird City park is an example of natural habitat as intentional, safe and inviting, rather than neglected and inaccessible. These meadows show an alternative understanding of natural habitat as an aesthetic resource that provides ecological functions such as pollination, stormwater capture, carbon sequestration as well as air and water pollution mitigation. Pathways, benches, and informative signage ensure that the parks appear purposeful, safe, and

The Detroit General Services Department and Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for 308 parks. However, 52 of these parks are not maintained as conventional parks due to budget constraints, and many are indistinguishable from vacant lots. To Detroit residents, these vacant lots and empty parks reinforce feelings of neglect and provide sites for crime such as trash dumping, arson, and illicit drug use. Residents often spend considerable amounts of their own time and money to maintain these spaces. Of the few studies which have looked at greening efforts and improved safety, all have found that these efforts resulted in fewer gun assaults and total crimes as well as increased feelings of safety. Increased safety can lead to increased usage of the green space, lower levels of stress, and increased community cohesion.

It is our intention that these parks serve as a replicable model for sustainable use of vacant property for Detroit and many other post-industrial cities throughout the USA.

Detroit Audubon, along with the City of Detroit, nearby communities and other partners, installed the first meadow in 2019, the second one in 2020, and earlier this summer we planted the final three meadows! This is a huge milestone for our project, and we are excited to have all five meadows established in Detroit.

Detroit Bird City Parks

Callahan Park: 3356 E Ferry St (2.19 acres) Planted in 2019. To be expanded in 2022.

Palmer Park: 19013 Woodward Ave (2 acres) Planted in 2020. To be expanded in 2022.

Bryant-Vermont Park: 5170 Vermont St (.70 acres) Planted in 2021

Volunteers working on the pathway at Bryant-Vermont Park

Lifsitz Park: 2670 Gladstone St (2.53 acres) Planted in 2021

Kids at Lifsitz birdhouse building event

McKinley-Merrick Park: 5200 McKinley St (.63 acres) Planted in 2021

Volunteers working on pathway at McKinley-Merrick volunteer event

Detroit Bird City Partners and Funders Include: City of Detroit-Department of General Services, Michigan State University, National Audubon, National Geographic, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Urban Neighborhood Initiative and many local community organizations.