Calling all birders

Maris Grove’s Birds of a Feather club takes flight

Created date

July 31st, 2017
Chris Weaver of Wild Birds Unlimited donated a bird feeder to Maris Grove’s bird group. Mej Blake (on left) and Carolyn Uhlig chair the group.

Chris Weaver of Wild Birds Unlimited donated a bird feeder to Maris Grove’s bird group. Mej Blake (on left) and Carolyn Uhlig chair the group.

Life is never boring for people who live at Maris Grove, Erickson Living’s retirement community in Delaware County, Pa. With more than 180 different special interest groups and activities to choose from, they can readily find several they’d like to participate in.

Birds of a Feather, launched last December, is especially appropriate for a community whose second neighborhood is named Cardinal and the five residence buildings that Cardinal comprises all bear bird-related names.

After Community Resources Manager Sally Christy proposed the group, Mej Blake and Carolyn Uhlig volunteered to chair it. The group’s goals are simple: to learn about birds and to place and monitor feeding stations and birdhouses on Maris Grove’s campus.

Community effort

Mej and Carolyn aren’t shouldering all the responsibilities of the group. They’re working in partnership with Chris Weaver, who owns the Wild Birds Unlimited store on Evergreen Drive across the street from Maris Grove.

To help the birders in their fledgling efforts, Weaver donated a bird feeder and a birdhouse. He’s also presented a number of talks at the group’s monthly meetings. 

An early presentation focused on warblers. “I had no idea there were so many varieties,” says Carolyn. 

“He’s really educating us,” adds Mej. “We’re thrilled Chris can bring us so much knowledge.”

Weaver’s presentation about hummingbirds drew an impressive audience, perhaps because hummingbird feeders are a fairly common sight on community members’ patios and balconies. 

Carolyn, who gardens around her patio, has a hummingbird feeder there. She also hangs baskets of mandevilla whose tubular flowers attract the hummers.

Near her garden spaces in Maris Grove’s community gardens, Mej has hung a birdhouse to attract nesting pairs. And she, too, grows mandevilla. 

A birder’s paradise

This spring, Maris Grove’s grounds crew installed a new bird feeder near the gazebo by the entrance to Maris Grove’s on-site rehabilitation and continuing care neighborhood. 

Its presence entices independent living and continuing care community members and staff to come out and watch the birds.

Club volunteers keep the feeders full and will clean out the birdhouse this fall. 

Birds are picky eaters; different species prefer different food. So far, local species such as sparrows, chickadees, house finches, and goldfinches have dined at the feeders. But during migration seasons, a traveling stranger could show up.

Maris Grove’s rolling hills and mix of wooded glens and colorful plantings create an inviting landscape for birds and other wild creatures. 

“Randy Waddell, our grounds supervisor, knows what to plant to attract birds,” Carolyn says, “so I’m sure we’ll have some interesting new plants.”

To further their birding endeavors, they plan to go on field trips. Weaver has volunteered to lead bird walks at historic Newlin Gristmill nearby.

A representative from the mill has also presented at the group. 

Creative activities, active lifestyle

Birds of a Feather is only the latest group to spring up at Maris Grove, but it’s symbolic of the creative activities and active lifestyle that attract so many people to move there.

Her garden is Mej’s absolute delight and a reason she chose Maris Grove. “Because they gave me a garden even before my move-in date, Maris Grove felt like home immediately,” she says. 

She’s also involved in a number of other activities. “I’m in a lot of groups,” she says, “and they have all become family.”

Carolyn agrees: “I feel the support of the community is something you can’t duplicate elsewhere,” she says. 

When she was widowed last year, Carolyn never felt she was alone. “The camaraderie and support was amazing,” she says. “Not just neighbors but also staff.”  

She also loves the on-site convenience of walking to her doctor, dentist, and pharmacy. “They’re all here at our fingertips.”

A mall with stores like Acme, Target, and Home Depot is located just outside Maris Grove’s entrance gate. And the campus shopping shuttle takes community members to venues, including Concord Mall in Delaware and the Shoppes at Brinton Lakes Center.

“If you’re without a car, Maris Grove is the place to live,” says Mej.