Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Uber Urban Wild Life - Take a Look

From our third floor window my toddler and I watched a very healthy cardinal feed its large baby. There is a lot of wild life to be observed in a city. Attracting particular animals to a city yard is not that hard.

Here are some animals that may be in your east cost back yard.

Birds: Cardinals, Blue Jays, House Finch, Yellow Finch, Sparrow, Starling, Robin, Swallows, Turkeys, Warblers, Red Tail hawk, Cooper's hawk

Mammals: rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, bats

Amphibians: frogs, salamanders, toads

Insects: stick bugs, praying mantis, lady bugs, sulphur butterflies, Karner Blue Butterflies, ants, etc

Wild life is good for the neighborhood...Why?

Well, to start with predators eat pest meaning people have less work to do to remove vermin. If we provide habitation for one brown bat, it will eat 3000 mosquitoes in one night. The insects called praying mantis, stick bugs and ladybugs eat the insects that kill garden plants. The Northern Leopard Frogs eat mosquitoes. These frogs are also an indicator of water and air quality, the worse the quality the lower the number of frogs. Needless to say these animals are low in numbers.

The first year I saw a Coopers Hawk was truly the beginning of my appreciation of urban wild life. The hawk was was sitting just 20 feet above ground in a maple tree. Its long banded tail signaled to me that this was not a typical bird, and the way is was perched signified this was a hawk. The following year it found a mate and raised a baby in a nest three stories up in a neighborhood Silver Maple. I watch all summer long as the two parents fed their offspring rat after rat. There were very few rats that year in our neighborhood. A neighbor saw me and I turned to tell him that this small predator was a hawk. He responded with it made a loud ruckus, the cawing it did was so that the fledgling bird could follow its parents as they swooped and dove between buildings. I responded with, I watched the baby bird eat a half dozen large rats each day and maybe the added noise was a small price to pay for the removal of the rats. (There is always someone like this in a neighborhood.) This photo is the bird eating a pigeon in the Silver Maple that is in my back yard the year after it raised its baby. These hawks are considered rare in New York. So, plant a tree in your front yard that will grow tall, attract nesting birds that eat rats, and be inspired by this jet-fighter-like flying bird.

Nature Balancing Nature

A neighborhood reap the rewards if a few simple steps are taken by each homeowner.

1. Buy predatory insects so they can eat other pest insect.
2. Plant a maple, sycamore, or other large tree for perches for hawks to hunt from or nest on.
3. Do not rototiller a yard. It turns up dormant weed seeds and it kills earth worms.
4. Do not use pesticides on your yard, besides that it causes breast cancer, it kills the insects birds need to eat.
5. Plant bushes and brush. This is for shelter for song birds that eat weed seeds and insects.
6. Nesting boxes for birds.
7. Shelter boxes for butterflies.
8. Shelter boxes for bats.
9. Provide water supply; pond, rain garden, bird bath, etc.

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