Wordless Wednesday, 8/28/13 – Pearl crescent butterfly

Henry Domke Pearl crescent butterfly

Pearl crescent butterfly. Photo from www.henrydomke.com


Avian delights

A young Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)

A young Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)

I received this email from a TLN member this morning, thought you might enjoy:

Half a dozen baby blue tits (they don’t have their crests yet)
have found my feeders and are having quite a time.  One keeps
slipping off the perch and hanging upside down by one foot.
Another pecked at the plastic above the feeding hole to get to the seeds
but finally caught on.  I’m trying to read my work for today but
can’t stop giggling.

For more information on blue tits, see the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) website: http://www.rspb.org.uk. The image is from pixdaus.com.


Nurture connection to nature by nurturing winter wildlife

Black-capped Chickadee. Photo by Henry Domke, http://henrydomke.com

Black-capped Chickadee. Photo by Henry Domke, www.henrydomke.com

The TLN Blog has published posts in the past on winter wildlife, and we will do so again in the coming year. But today I’m sharing this post from one of my favorite blogs, Beautiful Wildlife Garden:

Top 10 Tips for Your Winter Wildlife Garden

The article discusses the many rewards of creating a winter wildlife garden and offers tips on how to best provide food, water, and shelter for birds.

And speaking of which, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count is still on, through January 5th:

Each of the citizen scientists who annually braves snow, wind, or rain, to take part in the Christmas Bird Count makes an enormous contribution to conservation. Audubon and other organizations use data collected in this longest-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations – and to help guide conservation action.

Thanks again to Beautiful Wildlife Garden for the heads up on this.

So whether you’re enjoying watching wildlife from the comfort of your warm, cozy home or outside braving the elements as a Citizen Scientist for the Bird Count, connecting with nature at this time of year will nurture and sustain you until spring returns.


Butterfly magic, St. Louis Children’s Hospital Healing Garden

Painted Lady butterly on little hands, St. Louis Children's Hospital. Photo by Gary Wangler

Painted Lady butterly on little hands, St. Louis Children's Hospital. Photo by Gary Wangler

Last week, Painted Lady butterflies were released in the Olson Family Garden at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Gary Wangler, Horticulturist/Manager of Grounds Operations/Horticultural Therapist sent these photographs and this description:

“We do 2 releases each year. I get 100 larvae off the internet as a kit. The kids assemble the small containers with lids, place larvae food into each container, and in 3 weeks, we have butterflies. The last 3 days, I feed the butterflies with cotton balls that I have soaked with sugar water and on a nice day, we send word through the hospital about the release. At 1:00 in the Garden, patients and families come out to release the little winged creatures to the new world.”

This is the magic we can bring to people when they need it most.

The Olson Family Garden is one of the best examples of a children’s healing garden and rooftop healing garden. For more information, visit the St. Louis Children’s Hospital website, www.stlouischildrens.org/content/OlsonFamilyGarden.htm.

Butterflies awaiting release, St. Louis Children's Hospital. Photo by Gary Wangler

Butterflies awaiting release, St. Louis Children's Hospital. Photo by Gary Wangler

Painted Lady butterfly, St. Louis Children's Hospital. Photo by Gary Wangler

Painted Lady butterfly, St. Louis Children's Hospital. Photo by Gary Wangler

Butterfly release, St. Louis Children's Hospital. Photo by Gary Wangler

Butterfly release, St. Louis Children's Hospital. Photo by Gary Wangler

Butterfly release, St. Louis Children's Hospital. Photo by Gary Wangler

Butterfly release, St. Louis Children's Hospital. Photo by Gary Wangler

Many thanks, Gary, for these wonderful images! All photos by Gary Wangler. By consent of the guardian(s), these images may be used.

Wordless Wednesday, 3/16/11 – Happy Nat’l Wildlife Week!

Black and White Warbler. Photo by Henry Domke, http://henrydomke.com/

Black and White Warbler. Photo by Henry Domke, www.henrydomke.com

Some links to help you celebrate National Wildlife Week:

National Wildlife Federation, www.nwf.org

Not So Average Mama, on the book Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids, http://notsoaveragemama.com/

Therapeutic Landscapes Network’s Sensory and Wildlife Plants page, www.healinglandscapes.org/resources-sensory.html

Beautiful Wildlife Garden, www.beautifulwildlifegarden.com

Biophilia: Winter Wildlife in the Healing Garden

Goldfinch photo courtesy of Kelly Riccetti at Red and the Peanut

Goldfinch photo courtesy of Kelly Riccetti at Red and the Peanut

Humanity is exalted not because we are so far above other living creatures, but because knowing them well elevates the very concept of life.

– Edward O. Wilson, Biophilia

The biologist Edward O. Wilson coined the term “biophilia,” or people’s innate attraction to life and living things. In the winter, when so much plant life is dormant, it’s important to nurture that sense of connection with life, and one of the best ways to do that is by observing wildlife. Fortunately, with fewer leaves on the trees, we can often watch wildlife even from the cozy indoors. “Armchair bird-watching” is one of my favorite pastimes on a cold, snowy day.

Here are a few good posts – two from the TLN Blog archives and three from Beautiful Wildlife Garden, one of my favorite blogs, about encouraging wildlife, especially birds, into the winter garden:

Winter Birds in the Wildlife Garden, by Carole Brown – www.beautifulwildlifegarden.com/winter-birds-in-the-wildlife-garden.html

The Winter Wildlife Garden, by Carole Brown – www.beautifulwildlifegarden.com/the-winter-wildlife-garden.html

A Berry Merry Christmas, by Loret T. Setters – www.beautifulwildlifegarden.com/a-berry-merry-christmas.html

Watching the Birds – Connecting with Nature in Winter, Part III, by Naomi Sachs – www.healinglandscapes.org/blog/2010/01/watching-the-birds-connecting-with-nature-in-winter-part-iii

Especially in Winter, Feed the Birds, by Naomi Sachs – www.healinglandscapes.org/blog/2009/01/especially-in-winter-feed-the-birds

The image above was taken by Kelly Riccetti, author of the blog Red and the Peanut. Her photos, often close-ups of birds, are breathtaking. Thank you, Kelly!

Watching the Birds – Connecting with Nature in Winter, Part III

Photo courtesy of Kelly Riccetti at Red and the Peanut

Continuing our series on “Surviving the Winter by Staying Connected to Nature,” today’s post is about enjoying nature from inside, and in particular, feeding and watching the birds.

It’s true that one of the keys to making it through the winter is getting outside (more on that in the next post). But let’s face it: Even if we do venture forth, we’re probably not going to be out very long. So what is a “healing garden” in winter? One that we can gaze upon and enjoy from indoors. And what better way to hold our attention than watching the birds? It’s certainly been keeping me going this winter. This is the first year that I’ve noticed white-breasted nuthatches flitting back and forth from the bird feeder to the white oak. And in addition to the usual sparrows, crows, dark-eyed juncos, starlings, and cardinals, we seem to have more chickadees and tufted titmice (titmouses?) this year as well. Such a delight!

I want to especially encourage nurses, administrators, volunteers and family members who care for seniors to do more to attract birds. Place bird feeders and baths (you can even buy heated ones) outside of private and community windows. Watching, identifying, and counting birds can bring a great deal of meaning (and social interaction) into people’s lives. Bird-watching is an excellent antidote to the common problems of boredom, loneliness, and isolation.

No matter what your age, here are some resources to get you started. There are two primary ways to attract birds to the garden. First, plant things that birds are attracted to for food and habitat. The following books and websites will help you choose what to plant and how to keep a garden that’s bird-friendly throughout the year:

Second to providing natural food and habitat in your garden, supplement with birdfeeders and bird baths. The National Bird-Feeding Society is a great place to start. Learn about bird feed and feeder preference; how to prevent disease at bird feeders; best backyard bird-feeding practices, and more. And many of the websites listed above also provide information about this aspect of backyard bird-care as well.

All of these resources, plus a few more, are on the Therapeutic Landscapes Network’s Sensory & Wildlife Plants page. Stop on by, and if you have other recommendations, let us know.

Photo by Henry Domke, www.henrydomke.com

Photo courtesy of Henry Domke

(Especially in Winter), Feed the Birds

White-throated sparrow. Photo by Henry Domke, www.henrydomke.com

White-throated sparrow. Photo by Henry Domke, www.henrydomke.com

A bird’s life is tough in winter when food supplies and drinking water are scarce. This makes it an ideal time for us humans to participate in “armchair birdwatching.” If you keep your feeders and baths full and clean (and heated, if temperatures gets below freezing), you’ll get to enjoy the show when your feathered friends come to visit. It’s a wonderful way to get kids interested in nature – who wouldn’t be excited about spotting a brilliant red cardinal or a bright yellow goldfinch? Armchair bird-watching can be enjoyed at any age. My great-aunt Stefanie, who is 94, loves watching the birds, especially on days when she can’t go outside. The other day I spied some kind of woodpecker with a brilliant red patch on its nape that put even the most showy cardinal to shame. I looked it up in my Field Guide to Birds of North America (which I keep near the window for precisely this reason, just as my parents did when I was growing up) and learned that it was a yellow-shafted northern flicker. Who knew? There’s something about seeing and watching birds that elicits fascination, wonder and delight in even the most curmudgeonly sorts, and you don’t even have to leave the cozy warmth of your home.

Here are some links if you want to learn more, do more or buy more to watch the birds and help them at the same time:

And here are some sites and articles specifically about winter bird-feeding:

If you buy one book on bird-watching, it should be a field guide to help you identify what you see. A guide to birds in your area is probably sufficient (see the first book on the list below for my favorite regional guide). Other recommendations for book on bird-watching and creating a garden for birds include:

  • My favorite book for the past couple of year has been the Birds of New York Field Guide, by Stan Tekiela – There’s one for every state, and some come with cds to help you identify bird calls: www.adventurepublications.net.
  • The Audubon Backyard Birdwatcher
  • The National Wildlife Federation Attracting Birds, Butterflies, and Backyard Wildlife
  • Sally Roth’s Attracting Birds to Your Backyard
  • The Backyard Birdlover’s Field Guide, by the same author
  • Projects for the Birder’s Garden