How this site came about...
From then to now...
Metaphorically speaking, I was the Preying Mantis in a field of butterflies. My newly built house stood proud and tall, plop in the middle of what months before was home to foxes, quail, deer, meadowlarks, lizards and a host of other animals, including, yes, butterflies. Now they were gone from "my" land, having fled every which way as bulldozers thundered toward them.
A landscape that had once been green was turned brown. Brown everywhere: from the scraped-clean surface of the ground my new house sat on, to the top of my "Newport Brown"-painted siding, and rising from there to the tip of the brown roof.
Before I bulldozed, scraped, dredged and smashed to smithereens every living thing that didn't or couldn't run, my little plot of land had been in a relatively natural state. When I first saw it -- in fact, what drew me to it -- was its natural beauty. Native grasses waved to me from a meadow. A pond, wrapped in the safety of water-loving trees and a tangle of undergrowth, was tucked in on the far side of a small woodland, and bustling with the comings and goings and sounds of geese and ducks.
I was attuned to the status of habitat destruction on a grand scale -- agricultural encroachment in the Amazon Rainforest, logging in old growth forests, the draining of marshes and so forth -- but I saw myself as an insignificant new homeowner fulfilling my version of the American Dream. My house covered 1,900 square feet of land area, plus a garage, short driveway and short front walk. My entire lot measures about 11,000 square feet, which is less than a quarter-acre, only 1/5th the square footage of the White House, 1/4 the size of my local supermarket, and it would fit in just part of the grocery section of a nearby Walmart Superstore (seriously). My environmental footprint seemed so insignificant by comparison.
All might have been forgiven as I set about making things right. But, As these things usually go, my little dot of cleared land didn't forever stand as a relatively harmless island in a broad sea of tall grasses. My house eventually became one of dozens of others soldiering side-by-side, locked in a grid of concrete and asphalt. This is my neighborhood. That lovely, vital pond got "tamed" by developers and is now ringed by dainty houses sitting neat and tidy on a flat plain of well-groomed, perfectly green turf grass. The woodland has been so thinned, sheared and cleared it now looks something like a sad collection of old, wood telephone poles topped by a little fluff of greenery.
Am I casting blame at all my neighbors? How can I? They merely came after me, doing the same things and for the same reasons. All as ignorant as I about the harm that was done. Since then, many of us have learned we can create a win/win situation: We humans can have our "dream home" -- whether it's a house and yard, a loft with a rooftop for gardening, or an apartment with a patio for potted plants -- and share it with wildlife.
A backyard wildlife habitat can be as elaborate or as simple as you wish. The reward is in knowing you've played your part to establish a safe area for wildlife and in observing it being used by them. If you're only exploring the idea of creating a habitat, ask yourself when was the last time you saw a dozen or more butterflies in one place at one time in your yard, or held a ladybug in your hand or watched Cottontail bunnies jumping and spinning and playing on your lawn?
Whether you want to convert only a small section or the whole yard as a safe habitat for wildlife, you'll find the information you need on this site. I've maintained a backyard wildlife habitat for 25 years. If you're like me (and most people who come to this site are, or want to be) you'll be amazed at how much satisfaction you'll feel from knowing you're taking action to help wildlife (and the environment, too). Not to mention the pleasure of introducing yourself and your children to the animals who will live their lives as your neighbors in the welcoming haven you re-created especially for them.
I hope you find this site useful and enjoyable.