Hua Mei Bird Garden in Sara D. Roosevelt Park [Video]
Nestled behind the sunken court in Sara D. Roosevelt Park is a hidden gem of a bird sanctuary called Hua Mei Bird Garden. The tiny tree-lined real estate is definitely one of the unsung treasures of the 7-acre, 7-block park, and is a welcome taste of nature amidst a concrete jungle.
During the warmer months, older Chinese gentlemen congregate at the small community garden in the early morning hours. Most come armed with wonderfully ornate bamboo birdcages, each loaded with a different species of bird – Hua Mei, finches, sparrows, and such. Cages are then hooked onto a series of ropes strung between strategically-placed metal piping.
Some men lean against the metal railing and hang out, while others pace back and forth. The cardinal rule, however, seems to be silence; there is little to no talking. Just the beautiful melody of birdsong. And the view of Delancey traffic in the distance!
The Hua Mei Bird Garden was spawned in 1993 when Sara D. Roosevelt Park was just an urban wasteland of trash, sex, and drugs. Three Chinese men hung birdcages between two London Plane trees with the intention of creating a bird garden like those found all over China. Their petitions to the Parks Department were successful, and in 1995, it was officially recognized by the city. Shortly thereafter, the metal piping was hammered in place and new greenery planted (trees and shrubbery).