Capitol Hill Connections

A project of the Seattle Bird Conservation Partnership (Oct. 2019 – Oct. 2021)

American Robin / Mick Thompson / Eastside Audubon Society

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View from the northeast entrance of Cal Anderson Park.

View from the northeast entrance of Cal Anderson Park.


Capitol Hill Connections is a collaborative project of the Seattle Bird Conservation Partnership to restrict pesticide use at Cal Anderson Park, engage the Capitol Hill community in park stewardship events, and develop a vegetation plan to enhance habitat for birds and pollinators along 11th Ave E. The planned enhancements would help connect habitat patches from Seattle University up to Volunteer Park through the most densely populated urban village in the Pacific Northwest.

View from the northeast entrance of Cal Anderson Park.

Capitol Hill Connections project area outlined in black. Dark gray indicates building footprints within the progect area and green indicates tree canopy cover.

Why Capitol Hill?

Seattle’s most populous neighborhood may seem like an unusual place to practice avian conservation. It doesn’t have the best habitat. It isn’t the birdiest. So why is the Seattle Bird Conservation Partnership implementing its first collaborative project on the Hill? Here are three good reasons why:

  • For the people: Conservation is as much about people as it is about anything else. With nearly 30,000 residents, Capitol Hill has people aplenty. Our project, centered at Cal Anderson Park, will be highly visible to thousands and will provide Capitol Hillers with opportunities to directly contribute to bird conservation right in their own neighborhood. This project has important equity components too; public spaces like parks and rights of way are critical components of resilient communities. People rely on them for exercise, fresh air, meeting people, and more. They are most critical for people with fewer resources. In Capitol Hill, where most people are renters without access to yards, healthy public spaces are essential, especially now as we all work to stay physically and mentally healthy through the pandemic.
  • For the hazard reduction potential: Intensely developed neighborhoods like Capitol Hill can be hazardous to birds. There’s a lot of glass, pesticides, and worse. We’ll be working with Seattle Parks to restrict pesticide use at Cal Anderson Park and strategizing with property owners and residents to reduce hazards along 11th Ave E. We want this project to be a model for neighborhood bird conservation – if we can do it in Capitol Hill, we can do it anywhere.
  • For habitat connectivity benefits: We’ll be drafting a vegetation plan to guide future habitat enhancement efforts along the 11th Ave E corridor. Our end goal is to improve habitat connectivity between more than 60 acres of open space that birds are already using, from Seattle University up to Volunteer Park.

Project Objectives

View from the northeast entrance of Cal Anderson Park.

A bromadiolone bait box near the playground at Cal Anderson Park. Rodents do not remain in bait boxes. It may take several days for a poisoned rodent to die. In a weakend state, sick rodents may become attractive prey items for raptors.

Objective 1:

Restrict pesticide use at Cal Anderson Park: Though generally unintentional, many pesticides kill birds, reduce food resources, or disrupt normal behavior. Rodents are the biggest pest problem at Cal Anderson Park. The toxic chemicals used to control rat populations can have lethal consequences for raptors that feed on poisoned rodents. We are encouraging Seattle Parks and Recreation to pilot non-toxic rodent control solutions at Cal Anderson Park.

View from the northeast entrance of Cal Anderson Park.

View from the northwest entrance to Cal Anderson Park.

Objective 2:

Develop a Cal Anderson Park Stewardship Program: We’ll be working with Seattle Parks and Recreation, Capitol Hill EcoDistrict, and volunteers to help maintain Cal Anderson with fewer pesticides and to report sanitation or public safety concerns.

View from the northeast entrance of Cal Anderson Park.

Diverse vegetation in the right of way near 11th Ave E & E John St.

Objective 3:

Draft a vegetation plan for habitat enhancements along 11th Ave E: The 11th Ave E corridor connects over 60 acres of habitat and open space in the Capitol Hill area from Seattle University up to Volunteer Park, with Cal Anderson and the Lowell Elementary Campus in between. The vegetation plan will identify underused planting strips and other plantable space along the corridor, make bird- and pollinator-supporting plant recommendations, and outline steps for implementation and maintenance. Engaging residents, property owners, businesses and institutions will be critical to achieve this objective.

What is the Seattle Bird Conservation Partnership?

The Seattle Bird Conservation Partnership (SBCP) was formed in 2017 after the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service designated Seattle as an “Urban Bird Treaty City.” The SBCP is responsible for advancing the City’s Urban Bird Treaty City goals, as articulated in Resolution 31713. Birds Connect Seattle leads the partnership, whose members represent nonprofits and government agencies from the local to national level. Current members include Heron Habitat Helpers, Capitol Hill EcoDistrict, Seattle Parks and Recreation, Seattle City Light, Seattle Public Utilities, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Urban Raptor Conservancy, Seattle University, Seattle Center, and Progressive Animal Welfare Society.

What is the Urban Bird Treaty City Program?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service started the Urban Bird Treaty City program in 1999. The City of Seattle was officially designated in 2017. The program’s goals are:

  • Protect, restore, and enhance urban/suburban habitats for birds
  • Reduce hazards to birds
  • Educate and engage urban/suburban citizens in caring about and conserving birds and their habitats

Who is funding this project?

The Bullitt Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation are generously funding this project.

How can I get involved?

Go explore! Walk through the project area if it is safe for you to do so. Take a virtual tour if you’d rather stay inside. Send us pictures of the urban birds you see ( Keep an eye out for rodent bait boxes. Notice the trees and other vegetation. Submit an eBird checklist for Cal Anderson Park.

Attend a Nature of your Neighborhood workshop. We’ll be hosting monthly workshops to explore the nature of Capitol Hill and topics in urban conservation. 

Bird Lists for Project Area