Barbara Schwartz likes to have nature in her Linwood yard and tolerates the times when the interests of wildlife differ from her own.
She has a little pond with goldfish, for example. The first year she put it in, the winter was mild and the goldfish grew to 6 or 7 inches, she said this week.
Then one day, "I was looking out my back window, and here's this great blue heron in my backyard. I was so happy about it," she said.
Happy, that is, until she discovered the heron had eaten all of her goldfish.
Schwartz took it in stride. "That's nature," she said. She was thankful that at least the fish were not expensive koi.
She stocked the pond with goldfish again and did not even string net or fishing line over it to bar birds. Amazingly, the goldfish have lived a few years without becoming food for heron.
Schwartz wants more nature in her yard. She read about the rare hummingbird I had in my yard last week, as well as all the butterflies we've had (including a late-season painted lady four days ago), and e-mailed to ask where she could get native plants that would feed wildlife and lure it to her yard.
The Native Plant Society of New Jersey has a listing of places to buy native plants for wildlife at:
http://www.npsnj.org/sources_native_plants.htmIn the spring, good wildlife plants are available from NJ Audubon centers in Middle Township and Cape May, either for purchase or in exchange for your plants during swap days.
Backyard habitat plants are available at local nurseries and even in the plant sections of the big home store chains if you look for them.
Many are best planted in the spring. Some are good to put in now, including black cherry (which feeds birds with its fruits, and caterpillars such as tiger swallowtail and red-spotted purple with its foliage) and red cedar (berries and shelter for winter birds, caterpillar food for olive hairstreak butterflies).
The best thing to do now is plan the backyard habitat. NJ Audubon has excellent resources online for help. Visit:
SectionBackyardHabitat/Splash.aspxBetter still, the local naturalist and author who is an expert on creating wildlife habitat, Pat Sutton, will be leading two substantial workshops on the topic in the weeks ahead.
"How to create a butterfly and hummingbird garden" will be the subject of a five-hour workshop Saturday at NJ Audubon's Nature Center of Cape May. On Dec. 5, Sutton will cover "How to create a wildflower meadow and wildlife pond." Call 609-898-8848 for more information.
The second one may be of special interest to Schwartz, who has put in a second little pond that she hopes will attract dragonflies.
Dragonflies are brilliantly colored and prehistoric-looking - and help keep in check the mosquitoes, a favorite dragonfly food.
If Schwartz can get wildlife to put the bite on biting bugs, maybe she will be sitting in her yard in comfort 10 months from now, enjoying the birds, insects and her fish.
Contact Kevin Post: