Bringing Nature Close

Mountain quail -- a fairly recent visitor to our yard.

California quail — a fairly recent visitor to our yard.

I love being outdoors and in nature, so it should come as no surprise that I like to bring nature into my own yard. This includes purposefully bringing native plants into our garden — usually the same types of plants that we see walking the trails around Cottage Grove. It also includes planting non-natives which I know will be attractive and helpful to our local wildlife. Our yard and garden certainly don’t look like a forested path or a grassy meadow; however, having native plants and encouraging local wildlife to visit brings my love for the outdoors, nature, and Oregon right into my back yard and visible from my kitchen window.

A Lazuli Bunting surveys our yard from a piece of garden art.

A Lazuli Bunting surveys our yard from a piece of garden art.

When talking about wildlife in the garden, I suspect most people think of birds – specifically song birds. I love having song birds in the garden; I love watching their antics and listening to them sing. However for me, wildlife also includes such things as insects (including butterflies) partially because they also are a vital food source for many birds. It also includes reptiles and amphibians, like snakes, frogs, and newts. Squirrels are welcome at our feeders and field mice are welcome in our field. We do have limits – last year I gently shooed away a flock of wild turkeys eyeing our yard, our house is off limits to wild critters, and I probably wouldn’t be as accepting of deer if we had as many of them as some of my suburban friends.

A deer inspects some of my garden art.

A deer inspects some of my garden art.

Besides enjoying the wildlife and wild flowers in our yard, I also enjoy the opportunity to learn from the comfort of my own house and at my own pace. Slowly over the years I’ve learned the names of all the song birds that come to our feeders. Then, I learned the names of the birds that don’t come to the feeders. I’ve tracked when I see the birds, so I’ve learned, for example, that the yellow-crowned sparrow only visits in late March and early April as it migrates through. And I’ve watched as our Oregon Grapes went from being covered in fruit through summer and fall, only to be feasted on in just a couple of days. (I suspect it was the varied thrushes that showed up at the same time, but I’m not totally positive.)

Oregon Grape berries.

Oregon Grape berries.

I’ve found that bringing nature into my own yard helps me enjoy the nature we see on our excursions throughout the area, and even the nature that we see when we travel – as I compare and contrast the differences.

A hawk, looking for its next meal.

A hawk, looking for its next meal.

All these pictures were taken in our back yard, many from our kitchen window.


Signs of Spring
Oakland Wigwam Burner


  1. Jan Bartunek says:

    This was great! And it so reminds me of you and all your birds at work. Keep it up! We are enjoying your passion and thanks for passing it along. Jan

  2. What a nice variety of backyard visitors!

  3. Great photos! Love to see nature “up close.” Glad your turkeys left. Our city turkeys just hang around and wake us up at 5 am with their “gobble-gobbles.”

  4. Janet Best says:

    I think the deer is looking for some upscale food! I love the pics. Thank you for sharing your back yard. Our wildlife is limited here at Fort Leavenworth (unless you count the prisoners out to exercise). We do amazingly have many birds, including those annoying turkeys, and several deer.

    • Janet, I’ve been in Leavenworth Kansas and remember almost hitting a turtle crossing the road so I know you do (or at least did) have some interesting wildlife. LOL. I have to admit that I was fine with this deer in my backyard, nibbling on my plants, and I took many photos of her. Then she wandered off toward the veggie garden and I went outside to scare her off.

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