My First Wildlife
Since I was a child chasing lightning bugs at twilight, I've been enchanted
by wildlife. I lived in a house with a very small yard in a subdivision
of Rancho Bernardo, California from 1990 until August of 1999. It was
time I had ever owned a yard, and the first thing I did when I moved in
was to plant a hummingbird garden. I planted honeysuckles growing up
of the front arbor, and within a year I could enjoy the antics of the hummingbirds
almost year round. It only takes a square foot to plant a honeysuckle vine,
and the benefits to the little creatures are immense -- the nectar attracts
not only the birds themselves, but also tiny insects which the hummers
relish. I never put up commercial feeders after the first year because
attracted to the vines. That first year I also planted a jacaranda, a tree
beloved by Southern Californians for the bright lavender flowers that bloom
late each spring. I've never seen jacarandas listed as a hummingbird
attractant; nevertheless, my hummers used this tree spring through summer
to rest and
perhaps to eat.
One day I saw
a hummer flitting in and out of a sprinkler. A new passion was born. I
started doing research on how to get a water feature into the yard to attract
not just hummingbirds, but other birds as well. That little hummingbird
started me on a comprehensive search for ways to take my hummingbird garden
up a notch. This search started with the Internet, and it wasn't long before
I stumbled upon the Backyard
Wildlife Habitat program which is sponsored
by the National Wildlife Federation.
My garden couldn't
be a "backyard" wildlife habitat, because I only had a front
yard. But I planned my wildlife garden for my small front yard, and when
I was done, I applied for certification. Shortly before I moved from the
area, my yard was certified. I had "installed" a shallow, recirculating
bird pond in the ground, and the hummingbird bathed daily.
that don't eat at feeders also came to the water, and one day I was thrilled
to see three or four beautifully colored warblers bathing themselves. But
by far the biggest thrill of all was when the combination of the water
and the niger seed in the feeder attracted a flock of American Goldfinches.
I had lived in the San Diego area for 30 years and had never known these
colorful little creatures inhabited the area.
bird pond in my certified habitat in Rancho Bernardo in February with the
bloom of daffodils. The birds loved it, and I loved watching them from
When I moved
across country, I installed a new pond, but the blessing of a yard filled
with hardwoods soon clogged it up with leaves and I abandoned the effort.
A large stream in the neighborhood provides the wildlife with the water
it needs, although unfortunately not within my view. I designed my new
habitat with a removal of the lawn and an emphasis on native species. They've
mostly thrived with no care, and my wildlife garden is now something of
I spot several species of birds, butterflies, squirrels, and rabbits scooting
away as I drive up the driveway from work each evening.
water feature, I won't apply for Wildlife Habitat certification now,
but I know I'm doing my part. I created the garden graphics when I was
Fireworks several years ago, and they'll remain on this section of
my site as a reminder of the fun I had. I'll also leave up the "how
to's" for creating
the basics in case anyone stumbles across the site (and because as
retirement nears, I know I'll want to review the basics). When I started
wildlife habitat gardening 15 years ago, I thought it was important.
Now I think it's twice so, and I look forward to the day when one of
my neighbors removes their lawn in favor of more wildlife (and people-friendly)