Wild life

In addition to four children, two dogs, and two cats, our quarter-acre backyard is home to one enormous groundhog (Mr. Waddles), a bevy of squirrels, a mother cardinal and her babies, an Eastern five-lined skink (Stinky the Skink), and ongoing nests of baby bunnies with tragically high mortality rates. There is also a catbird who pecks on our window several times a day (Gilbert), an insomniac mockingbird, and enough insects and worms to keep my preschooler engaged for hours. Occasionally, barred owls will visit from a nearby field for raucous midnight parties.


Photo by Kellen McCluskey

If you would like your backyard to be a similar wildlife habitat, visit the National Wildlife Federation’s webpage on gardening for wildlife. Native plants like those sold at Adkins Arboretum form the basis of a wildlife-friendly garden. The National Wildlife Federation will even send you a “Certified Wildlife Habitat” sign if your garden qualifies. For my part, I’m foregoing the NWF sign in favor of an “It’s a Zoo out There” sign. Let me know if you find one.

by Jenny Houghton
Youth Program Director


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