This summer has been one of extremes – extreme house makeover, extreme heat and drought, extreme fires and extreme wildlife visitors to our yard. It’s been a summer that we like to hope does not happen on a regular basis. It’s also been a summer that has shown me just how interconnected our wildlife friends are to the natural events happening around them. Wildlife became both more abundant and more elusive depending on the species. And the native plants I love so much became both a blessing and a curse. What a summer it has been in our wildlife garden.
So what has the summer of 2012 taught me about my wildlife gardens? It’s taught me that birds, bees, mammals and insects are very resourceful. Take for example this nest full of baby robins and proud parents. The nest was made high up in a Ponderosa Pine tree, ten feet from our house. Little did momma and daddy Robin know that scaffolding and stucco would be their next door neighbors. But the babies literally hung in there through the extreme house makeover, taking flight one by one by using the scaffolding as their runway.
The summer of extremes also taught me that not all native plants are always welcome in the gardens. During the Waldo Canyon fire the overgrown and crowded native trees in that area burned with such an intensity that no one could have imagined the heat and destruction. Those same Ponderosa Pines and Gambel Oak are present in large numbers in our wildlife garden, and are a true danger to our house and our lives. We have done a lot of fire mitigation in our yard in past years to thin them out. Even so, during the fires I went and cut down scrub oak close to the house for a little sense of security, sad to have to take them down but knowing it was the right thing to do.
Finally, I learned that when there is little for animals to eat in their normal range, they will appear in greater numbers in other places. We’ve always had Black Bear around our neighborhood, but this year they have been here in record numbers. Mother bear with babies, young males, older males and more mothers with larger babies. All looking for food and possibly a new place to call home. And while I feel honored to see them so often, I worry about their future. They seem unconcerned with barking dogs and are just looking for a place to take a nap. I just hope that they don’t stay the winter.
To all the Wildlife Garden readers that may have been missing my wildlife adventures – I’d like to say that I’m glad to be back and look forward to your comments! It’s always been a privilege to share my wildlife garden with you, and an honor to be on a team of such dedicated writers. Thank you for having me back!
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