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Friday, January 23, 2009

Of Birds, Gardens, and Nature

My recent fascination with the snowy owl visiting our town isn't something new, I've always been interested in birds and wildlife. Gardening and nature to me are so closely woven together in the tapestry of life that you don't get one without the other, and if you do you're doing something wrong. Nature in all it's glory ultimately controls what the gardener is able to do and the gardener can only hope to influence the garden. I believe that gardeners are simply stewards of nature, we create a buffer between the human world and the wild world. Humans are a part of the world no doubt, our mark is evident in almost every area of our planet, but it's our duty to serve as guardians and wardens. When we work together with nature great things can be achieved.


We can invite the wild world into our gardens by encouraging birds, pollinators, and all kinds of wild creatures to visit us. With the open invitation to creatures of all kinds comes some measure of responsibility. Animals generally need to be left alone. My mind is torn into two parts in with the snowy owl. On one hand, I want to capture it in the best photo I could possibly get which would involve getting much closer to it than I have. On the other hand I know that I've come close enough and that moving closer would disturb the great bird and possibly frighten it away. It will leave our area soon enough but until then it needs to be allowed its space.

There are some simple things we can do as gardeners and stewards to help our fellow inhabitants of this big round green and blue ball that circles the sun. Providing food, shelter, and of course, space. Leave the creatures room to roam and be comfortable in their environment. Many gardeners even create natural woodland corridors that allow animals like deer to pass through. Gardeners can provide food in two ways, either set out food for the animals or plant plants that will nourish them. I prefer the second method for pollinators and hummingbirds and the first method for the birds. I don't intentionally feed squirrels as they have a way of helping themselves. Our bird feeders are on poles near our birdbath garden. In the birdbath garden I planted a butterfly bush that the birds love to use as a sheltered spot to flit back and forth to the feeders. They seem pretty happy. Trees and bushes provide shelter for nesting and food to creatures to consume.

For now I'll watch from a distance wishing I had a more powerful camera lens to get that perfect snowy owl shot. I'll let nature take its course as a good steward would do and hope that I can aid nature as I can. The wonder of something so unusual in our area has been very exciting and we'll miss the owl once he's gone back to the north. But I'll remember that all things in nature have their place.



Related Snowy Owl Posts:
A Spectacular Snowy Owl Photo
A Snowy Owl Story
Snowy Owl Visits Spring Hill, TN

12 comments :

  1. Having birds in the garden is a delight. When we first starting feeding the birds, we didn't know anything besides sparrows, cardinals, and blue jays. Now, it is so much fun to be able to identify all the different birds that visit us.

    Jan
    Always Growing

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  2. The wonder of that snowy owl and you sharing it was a real treat Dave.

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  3. Your snowy owl is positively majestic -- I think few people realize just how large they are! I got the scare of my life one night when driving home from work through a densely wooded secondary road -- a beautiful snowy owl glided mere feet in front of me. I didn't see it leave its perch and couldn't have been more than 20 feet from it. It was huge, almost the width of my then Neon. Ghost like, in fact. :) I hope you get to make friends with your owl -- and what you stated about Nature and gardening going hand is hand is SO very true. You cannot have one without the other.

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  4. Nice post. I so much enjoy having the birds around me in the garden. They are indeed a great pleasure. That snowy owl is awesome!

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  5. Dave,

    I loved this post...you've expressed the push- pull of interacting with nature. We so want to be up close and personal with wildlife, but also realize they need privacy, too. gail

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  6. Thanks for sharing a thought provoking post about wildlife today Dave! They do seem to intermingle with gardening like a tapestry as you said.

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  7. I wrote a bit about this today, Dave, actually; we have Eagle Watch festivities going on around our community, and while most people treat the eagles with real respect and don't go too close in the feeding areas, there are some who...don't.

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  8. We went out again today to give Jenny a chance to see the snowy owl but unfortunately it was way back on the hill. A tiny white dot, even with binoculars. It's been a lot of fun seeing and talking with people on the side of the highway while watching the bird. Today though was too cold for anything other than a quick look.

    Nancy,

    That would have been a sight to see!

    Thanks to everyone for your comments!

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  9. I love all your bird pictures. Thank you for sharing. -Lee

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  10. Rightly said about we being the stewards of nature. You did instill thoughts in me about nature. I love watching birds as you and our fellow bloggers do.

    Mouli

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  11. I know what you mean about not wanting to disturb the owl. We have deer in our yard and every spring when the fawns are born, I want so badly to run out and pet them. They are so cute but I must refrain from making the deer tame. I fear another neighbor may not be so kind to them. They are not too scared in our yard but not as tame as they once were with us due to growth around us. We keep our distance and observe from the sunroom windows.

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  12. Hey Dave, haven’t visited you in a few days so I'm just now reading this. Great post!! I couldn’t have said it any better. Gardening and nature are related and like you said, one can't happen without the other. Everything I plant or spay I always ask how is it going to benefit wildlife, and if it doesn’t benefit, will it cause harm to wildlife. We must be responsible gardeners to wildlife and the environment.

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