Our National Wildlife Habitat. 2015-12-17

HabitatSunDay Gardens a/k/a our backyard existing in our little town of about 1,000 people is a living, breathing wonder sanctioned as a National Wildlife Habitat. Yes, we have the certificate and sign and everything! I filled in the certification questionnaire  verifying I have a place for food, water, and shelter. We have hummingbird feeders, birdseed feeders, corn and nut stations, 4 birdbaths, various birdhouses and nesting boxes, some stacked up branches by the alley, and a tiny pond. Now, by wildlife I don’t mean lions and tigers and bears, oh my! I do mean birds and squirrels and bunnies and cats and toads or frogs (I really don’t know the difference), oh yes! While having these species invade your space is an odious thought to some, it has never (well not any more anyway) been a problem for us. Why? Years ago I gave in and surrendered our strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, sunflowers, and herbs to our furry and flying friends. I learned my lesson that nature will find a way. I would have a wonderful crop, but after freeing petrified flailing birds stuck in strawberry and grapevine netting, trying to wave them off the sunflowers, making the squirrels get the heck away from the bird feeders and the bunnies out of the herb garden, I came to the realization that they must need this stuff more than we do. I was really honored these animals selected our little garden to dwell and raise their families. The veil over our eyes was eventually lifted, however. The delusion of us having this sweet little menagerie morphed into the realization that it was the other way around. We didn’t have them, they had us. Right where they wanted us. The animals had bestowed upon us the duty of caring for their home. Then and only then did we put out the white flag. We surrender! Once the war was over, the naturalization of the garden began. Tension between me, the garden warrior, and them, the wildlife inhabitants, finally merged into peaceful cohesiveness. What was supposed to eat insects did, what loved the fruit was able to fill its tummy, what could fly to the birdfeeders did, what was able to climb to reach the corn and nuts did, what needed greens nibbled on them from the herb gardens. There were elevated birdbaths as well as the ground-level pond providing water for all, nectar from trumpet vines fattening the hummingbirds, milkweed and a variety of wildflowers and bushes provided accommodations and ample vittles for the butterflies, a house by the pond for the toads, and fallen branches stacked fencelike for a rabbit’s quick get-away by the alley. All in all it’s a war well lost. Are there competing enemies in the garden? Sure, I suppose so, but on a sunny warm blissful summer’s day, it seems as though there is a tranquil, organized chaos taking place. Birds watch out for each other and take turns. We have the same robin, cardinal, wren, and dove families every year. If I haven’t replenished the birdfeeders by dusk, the cardinals specifically find me wherever I am and let me know that I’ve been woefully neglectfully late. They’ll perch on the wire outside my bedroom window, fly by the kitchen window, peck on the front-door screen, and literally holler with a screeching reserved for only scolding me. The squirrels may chase each other up and down a few trees, but eventually they all get a share of the bounty.  None of them appear to have missed too many meals. Our squirrels even come up and take peanuts right out of our hands when they’re offered. Stray cats come and munch on a bowl of food and some water set out for them often allowing me the privilege of stroking their backs. Amazingly the cats we have entertained in our yard the past couple of years really haven’t proven dastardly to the garden’s well-being. The birds on the wires and in the trees around the property set off warning alarms whenever a cat is near to give those in harms way a heads-up.

It’s a community for sure. I love sitting in the garden listening to the melodic chirps and chatter. We have achieved peace in the garden once we stopped the madness and let nature have it’s way. It’s a labor of love for sure… Sandy



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