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‘Gardening for Birds’ program planned for Watson Bird Club

The Margaret H. Watson Bird Club will resume its monthly meetings with a special program on Thursday when avid birder Dr. Bill Leaning will give an interesting program on “Gardening for Birds.”  The meeting will be held at the Farmville-Prince Edward Community Library; there will be refreshments and a chance to mingle with bird club members and Leaning beginning at 6:40 p.m.  The public is cordially invited.

Like so many who are fascinated by nature’s avian “jewels,” Leaning and his wife Clare were “bitten by the birding bug” when they visited a special event in 1989 — their first New Jersey Audubon “Cape May Birding Weekend.”  Upon retirement from his practice as a veterinarian, this native of New Zealand acquired “serious photographic equipment” and began what he describes as “an incurable disease and major retirement avocation” — nature photography. 

Although Leaning has traveled extensively throughout the world visiting 44 countries, he and his wife are almost full-time residents of the gardens on their 17-acre wooded property in Earlysville called “Omanu,” a New Zealand Maori word for “the place of birds.”  The landscaping they have accomplished is designed to attract birds, and it achieved that goal successfully.  As a result of their work, Omanu is now a National Wildlife Federation certified wildlife habitat, providing birds’ four basic needs: food, water, cover and safe places to raise their young.

“Gardening for birds” is a pictorial diary of the birds, butterflies, insects and other critters that have recently visited Omanu. It is Leaning’s hope that all who hear his presentation and see his marvelous pictures will come away with an even deeper appreciation of nature’s wonders and will have learned more about the fascinating creatures who are our fellow travelers on this planet.