Every Day is Earth Day at The Backyard Naturalist!
Scientists are finding proof that even the smallest natural habitats we create can make a meaningful impact. Really good news that gives us all hope!
With the 45th celebration of Earth Day almost here, reading The Audubon Society‘s article “How to Create a Bird-Friendly Yard” has given us pause to think, not in an abstract way about the future of our planet, but very specifically about what is happening here, in the ecology of our own suburban backyard.
And there are a few things to think about.
According to University of Delaware entomology professor Doug Tallamy, anyone with access to a patch of earth can make a significant contribution toward sustaining biodiversity. His landmark book Bringing Nature Home explains the findings from his research and gives practical guidance on how we can help restore nature, even on the smallest scale.
The good news is that it’s within our power to help turn things around with the plants we choose to grow in our own backyard… or front yard or apartment balcony. And his research tells us that it’s working.
“For the first time in its history, gardening has taken on a role that transcends the needs of the gardener. Like it or not, gardeners have become important players in the management of our nation’s wildlife. It is now within the power of individual gardeners to do something that we all dream of doing: to make a difference. In this case, the ‘difference’ will be to the future of biodiversity, to the native plants and animals of North America and the ecosystems that sustain them.
— Douglas Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home
It’s so simple! Native plants attract and sustain native wildlife, including the native insects that many of our wild birds eat to survive. As wild bird hosts who conscientiously stock feeders and keep water accessible, this presents another great opportunity to lure new visitors to our yards!
Professor Tallamy‘s entertaining and educational book, and the book’s companion website, BringingNatureHome.net, are highly recommended for further reading. Not only about the science behind his studies, or the limitless benefits and positive repercussions from making simple changes in your landscape, but also for inspiration and a plan of action.
Where to start? Celebrate Earth Day by replacing a non-native or invasive plant in your yard with a native! For help with specific plants for our area, we’ve listed several links below to help you get started — just a few of the many, many local resources available.
We are proud that our Backyard Naturalist community celebrates Earth Day every day with steadfast, year round support for our wild birds, so we are thrilled to deliver this good news for Earth Day 2015: Collectively, our efforts to create these micro-sanctuaries are making a difference!
Please take time to enjoy and celebrate your ‘patch of earth’ on April 22nd. (And keep up the good work!)
Happy Birding… And Bird-scaping!
Debi Klein, The Backyard Naturalist
Regional Native Plant Information and Sources
University of Maryland Extension Home and Garden Information Center
Native Plants of Maryland, a handy illustrated pdf from the University of Maryland
Maryland Native Plant Society
Virginia’s Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Division of Natural Heritage (DCR)
Virginia Native Plant Society
The US Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Landscaping resource page
Bringing Nature Home companion website
Is your yard healthy for YOU?
The Great Healthy Yard Project