Stone Wall Restoration and Clearing

Reminders of the Norman Bird Sanctuary’s agricultural past, miles of stone walls line the boundaries of our trails and former farming fields. Hand-built with a skilled artistry that involves laying each stone one-by-one without mortar.

With funding from the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, the Aquidneck Stonewall Initiative works to restore stone walls on Aquidneck Island, Over the past five years, the Norman Bird Sanctuary has collaborated with the Aquidneck Stonewall Initiative to restore the Sanctuary’s stone walls and educate the public about this unique and historic element of the landscape.

Conservation Crew members have and will continue to be critical is supporting this initiative, restoring the stone walls along Third Beach Road. Due to their historical significance, visibility, and location within Paradise Valley, these walls are particularly significant to our property and the surrounding neighborhood.

Read more about our collaboration with the Aquidneck Stonewall Initiative.

Invasive Species Management

The Norman Bird Sanctuary is home to 22 types of plant communities across our 300 acre campus. Nearly all of these communities are impacted by invasive plant species that encroach on their territory and hinder their ability to grow. Left unchecked, these plants will dominate a local plant community, choking out the native plant species that are critical food sources for native wildlife to survive.

Throughout the year, the Norman Bird Sanctuary takes on the arduous but necessary task of cutting back these invasive plants and preventing their rampant growth throughout our trails, fields, stone walls, and forests. This management work will continue in 2022 with the removal of acres of these invasive plants by cutting, digging, mowing, and other measures. The Norman Bird Sanctuary maintains a strict pesticide- and herbicide-free approach to land management. All of our invasive management is done by hand and mechanical means. Examples of the invasive plant species that we are actively removing include: Multiflora Rose, Japanese Knotweed, and Privet.

Learn more about the Sanctuary’s priority plants for species management through this informational booklet created in partnership with Salve Regina University and Dr. Jameson Chase.

Gardens and Orchard

The historic Mabel’s Garden has been carefully cultivated for centuries. In conjunction with the adjacent orchard, Mabel’s Garden supplied vegetables, fruit, and herbal medicines for eighteenth and nineteenth century inhabitants of the Paradise Farmhouse. During the twentieth century, the working garden was transformed into a formal Colonial Revival style garden and has most recently been re-designed to incorporative native pollinator plants.

In addition to Mabel’s Garden and the Orchard, we also care for seven other smaller established gardens, plus the newly created herb garden and pumpkin patch. Each of these horticultural spaces need weeding, watering, seasonal planting and transplanting, pruning, harvesting, and spring cleanups.

The nearby Orchard will also undergo improvements, including the pruning of dead and unproductive branches.

Nest Box Monitoring Program

Every spring, Norman Bird Sanctuary installs and monitors over 300 nest boxes as part of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s “Project Nest Watch.” These nesting boxes not only provide critical habitat for thousands of migrating birds annually, but also provide essential migratory, behavioral, and reproductive data about our local ecosystem’s avian species’ health.

This year the Norman Bird Sanctuary will continue monitoring these boxes with the aim of collecting more data and relevant information than we ever have before. The nest monitoring process includes the data collection of the occupied bird boxes in addition to their installation and removal.

Trail Stewardship

The Norman Bird Sanctuary cares for seven miles of diverse hiking trails. Throughout the year, Conservation Crew members are tasked with assisting properties staff in maintaining these trails, clearing debris, and making sure they are safe for people of all physical abilities to traverse.

Become a Conservation Crew Member

We are looking for dedicated individuals who love working outside and want to join a passionate team. We are currently accepting applicants of all ages. Join us and make a difference!