Back to Back Issues Page
Continue Planning Your Habitats
January 13, 2020

For the many, Thank You for your New Year Wishes and support.

The weather continues to be  main topic.

This is from a local meteorologist, Bill Steffen.

"Overall the weather of 2019 can be described as cloudy, cool and very wet. We set a record for precipitation in a calendar year in Grand Rapids
with 51.37″. That was 13.10″ above average. In 2018, 44.45″ of precipitation occurred and that was 6.18″ above average. So, that gives us a two-year period that was 19.28″ above average. No wonder we have problems with high water levels on Lake Michigan."

Figure the Great Lakes Basin as a whole was wetter than normal.

Rivers flow into these really Big Lakes, causing severe beach erosion and the loss of some homes as they slide into the water.

This past week saw warm temperatures, followed by an Ice Storm.

Thank you Lord, that the storm wasn't as severe as predicted.

(Prayers for the families that lost loved one and homes from the same storm system.)

Still, there were inches of rain, keeping Lakes Michigan and Heron above the January record.

I'm showing pictures of the ice on trees, 

To the right is a picture without the flash, and one with the flash.

Notice the rain and sleet.

Seed orders are coming in.

I spend time looking over things and planting dates.

I am trying a few new (for me) things.

I have some dwarf dill and basil planted now, hoping they will grow with the artificial light I provide.

This week is a continuation from last weeks letter.


Last week I mentioned that it is a good idea to take some graph paper, pencil and eraser and start making some plans for this spring's yard and gardens.

It is a good time of year when most of us have little going on.

When things are on paper, it keeps your mind sharp and helps you with new and fresh ideas.

With graph paper, each square can equal one foot, five feet, 10 feet and so on.

You can draw things in to scale and size.

It all depends on the size of your yard or section to be worked on.

Now, if you really want to attract birds, you must think like a bird.

No, I didn't call you a bird brain, I meant to train your eyes and thinking onto what birds and wildlife see when the are checking out your kingdom.

With your paper and pencil, sketch in your home, swimming pool , fire pit, tennis court, or what have you.

Now go outside and walk to the street or the beginning of your yard (if it's not in three feet of snow).

What do you see?

Does it look inviting, no matter the time of year?

Do you see trees and shrubs?

In Spring and Summer is your yard a sight to behold as waving flowers say welcome friends?

Are birds and butterflies flitting about?

Are there trees to offer a shady spot to rest, and nest?

Or is there a large expanse of green carpet (not good for much)?

Is there a nice hedge row to one side?

Maybe there is a tree or two shading your home with a poor excuse for grass trying to grow under them.

What is planted along the front and side of your home?

Can you improve this with shrubs and flowers that will birds birds and butterflies, and other pollinators?

Is it possible to create a walking path for you to enjoy?

Do you have a patio or deck where you spend much of your relaxing time on pleasant days?

Can you draw wildlife closer by creating a container garden?

Hummingbirds and butterflies will freely visit containers and window boxes.

Can you get a bird's eye view?

If you have a two story house, look out your windows.

This gives you an idea on what birds see.

If you have neighbors, do they have trees that can attract birds as well?

Your neighbor's yards can be an extension of your habitats.

Make sure at least one tree or some shrubs are conifers (evergreens) as the offer protection year round from predators and the element plus offer food.

Is there a row of trees growing along your street or an open field?

These trees offer protection and flyways, as birds fly from one location to another.

If you are along this flight path, your bird friendly yard will become a place for birds to forage, drink and bathe and some will call it home.

For migrating birds, your yard can become a "Motel 6", so to speak.

A no frills place where they can get a good night's sleep.

Plus you are offering a free continental breakfast before they continue there journey.

Birds and butterflies don't need the frills, in fact they prefer thing a bit messy.

Just look at "Nature's" offerings.

Nothing tidy about nature at all.

Plants and trees seem to be tossed together.

Leaf litter.................... no problem.

Some good eats are to be had under the litter.

If you live in a wooded lot, you can help by thinning some trees out to allow for understory and ground cover.

Controlled thinning and planting is actually good for a smaller block of land.

Now it can and does depend on where you live (region and location) on what you can and will attract.A vast majority of wildlife lives in and near the woods edge.

That soft buffer or edge between grown trees and open meadows.

This is what you want to achieve if possible, that soft edge look. If the soft edge isn't possible, can you plant a hedge row of mixed shrubs and small trees?

be sure to plant some flowers and thick plants that offer ground cover.

A hedge row isn't this groomed hedge of all the same shrubs, a hedge row is more like you would see in an old farm field where a fence line once stood.

Different trees and shrubs grow along the line surrounded by native flowers and grasses.

Hedge rows are an oasis for wildlife.

In cities, hedge rows may grow between factories and boundary lines.

Even what is called the "Urban Savannah" (Cities and subdivisions where there is a tree or two placed every so often) attracts certain species of birds.

By adding to your little corner of earth, you may have some of these birds stick around instead of flying through.

In the Prairies, life fills the tall grasslands, thickets, hedge rows and pockets of trees.

The desert southwest offers many different creatures.

Life is everywhere, but you must know where to look.

Unique habitats offer unique creatures and plant life.

Knowing what is the key.

Native Trees That aAttract Wildlife.

Shrubs For The Wildlife Gardens.

Native Flowers of North America.

For a thorough list, contact your state or province department of natural resources. 

You will be amazed at the wide and diverse range of natives available to you. 

Don't forget some yard art or a wind chime or two. 

After all, the joy is for you as well.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us". 

Helen Keller (1880-1968) American Writer    

From the word of God. 

“I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me". Revelation 3:8 

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb.

A Blessed week to you .

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

Back to Back Issues Page