Here at The Edge of the Wood we just tossed out our lawnmower and planted more bird- friendly-berry, bearing-bushes. We think of this as a win-win. Biologists Amy Belaire and Emily Minor found that landscape plantings in private yards play a much greater role in attracting a diversity of native birds in neighborhoods than do the surrounding parks, forest preserves, or streetside trees. Areas with bird-friendly yards had nearly twice as many species than neighborhoods whose private yards were less attractive to birds. So help a bird and help yourself. Sometimes a bird in the hand is worth less than two in the bush.
A recent study looked at the economic value city dwellers place on having birds in their communities. Researches asked how much residents would spend to conserve common bird species and what they’d spend, if anything, on bird food. In Seattle, the value of enjoying common birds is about $120 million in bird seed, housing and plantings. “We know that having a livable, green community that attracts birds also increases the value of homes in that area.” said John Marzluff, a University of Washington professor of environmental and forest sciences and the paper’s co-author. “This paper shows there’s an economic service birds are providing.” Home improvement doesn’t always have to involve a hammer and a saw.
Here at The Edge of the Wood we noticed that in urban areas there are more black squirrels than gray squirrels. Biologists believe that black squirrels may have been the norm several centuries ago, before large-scale deforestation. Today’s woodlands are much less shady than forests used to be, and cities, with their tall buildings, may mimic the darker environs of the early continent. In environments with more sunlight, “squirrel gray” can offer better camouflage. In New York City black-coated squirrels blend in perfectly with the urban human population. … after all, a little black dress is always in fashion.
Trish O’Kane thinks so. She runs a program at the University of Wisconsin that pairs university birding students with underprivileged middle school students in a unique environmental studies program. The kids explore nature and learn about environmental justice issues affecting their communities. They are shown that nature belongs to all of us and not just the few. So get outside and enjoy the bird songs…it might inspire you to do great things.
Here At The Edge of the Wood we are disturbed about feathers being used in fashion. When you see a feather in a hat or braided into hair there is always a bird who has lost her life. Does fashion really need this? No. Leave the feathers to this red-tailed hawk and the fashion to creative innovators like Stella McCarthney. Beauty doesn’t have to mean misery any more.
At The Edge of the Wood we revere scientists. For 19 years, the owl researcher Denver Holt has journeyed to Barrow, Alaska, to study the lemmings and owls. Holt says, “If climate change results in habitat changes and it affects the lemmings, it will show up in the snowy owls because 90 percent of their diet is lemmings. The owls are the key to everything else.” The health of owls tell us about the health of our world. So get to know an owl. She might have something important to tell you.
The Edge of the Wood would like to salute Abby Putterill. Putterill, 16, adopted Hammy, a mopane squirrel, two months ago after the tiny animal was found injured and abandoned at Zimbabwe’s Bally Vaughan Wildlife Sanctuary, which is owned by Putterill’s parents. The little orphan is living in her hair. She just let Hammy stay in her ponytail after he climbed in and got comfy one day. Besides sleeping and showering, the pair are virtually inseparable, she said. Here’s to Abby! She already knows that home is where the heart is.
Scientists Milena Shattuck and Scott Williams studied tree dwellers versus ground dwellers and found that mammals who spend the majority of their time up a tree live longer than those who scurry along the ground. Trees can provide food, shelter, protection from predators….. and they’re a great place to raise the kids. Trees…you can never really have too many.