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Life On The Edge #2, (You Can Help).
June 10, 2013

I haven't seen the raccoon in more than a week.

It doesn't mean it isn't still here, but by me removing food sources (taking feeders down at night), it should eventually move on.

Thank you all for your tips and advice on live trapping.

That is my next move if needed.

The weather has had its ups
and downs this past week.

Cool and wet and a day or two of sunshine sprinkled in.

Temperatures are well below normal for this time of year, however.

In some ways that is good, as the season is in full swing.

I'm talking 'Graduation' and 'Open House Season'.

A niece, and nephew graduating.

A grandson moving from eighth grade to high school.

Friends from our small group and other church families.

We simply can't make them all, and a guy could go broke just by sending a card and money.

There are times when a person must choose.

Besides, we simply can't make them all.

(Native Trumpeter Swans, Seney National wildlife Refuge.)

My friend Sandy, lives in Northern Michigan, near the Beautiful Grand Traverse Bay.

She asked me if I could take 'Life On the Edge' a step farther.

(As you recall, last week I wrote on life on and near waters edge.)

As a fellow naturalist, Sandy
understands the importance of a healthy Water system.

(Check out Sandy's Birding forum, some pictures will WOW you.)

(Anyone that lives in Michigan knows that water is our Biggest Asset and Greatest Natural Resource.)

Thank you Sandy, and I hope to do you proud.

'Life On the Edge #2'.

You can help it from falling off.


Life On The Edge:

(Common Loon)

"How We can Help Nature from Falling off the Edge."

Is it too late?

Clearly, for the species that are now extinct, it is too late.

For the rest of nature and wildlife, I think there is still hope.

I think as a collective whole, we can help our wetlands, streams, rivers, and lakes from becoming empty bodies, or waters filed with invasive and non-native life forms.

Throughout history, humans have had the need to own a piece of waters edge.

Its mine to do with what I want.

Dig up all water plants.

Put down copious amounts of herbicides to kill off water and shoreline plants.

Never mind the polluting.

I'll dump in sand for a nice beach area.

"Gotta be like the neighbors."

Cut back of the cattails, waterlilies and willows.

"I can't stand those messy trees."

Whack back the reeds and other water plants.

'Phragmites grass'.............................

Nice and tall and a bit attractive.

I'll plant a clump right near the shoreline and have it become an attractive buffer.

Now, we'll plant some 'Houttuynia' (Chameleon plant), it's a rather colorful ground cover.

Ajuga might be nice along the north side of the house.

'Noway maple' and 'Bradford pear' can handle wet feet, I'll replace the Oak trees that drop all those acorns.

You know, maybe some 'Water cress' would do good in the small stream that runs along the property and spill into the lake.

All are introduced plant species.


I don't like that small bit of standing water (marsh or wetland), I'm going to fill it in.

Maybe plant grass up to the waterline.

To maintain this, I'm going to put down more weed killer and fertilizer to keep it green.

Who cares if residue runs off into the

It will float downstream or out into the lake where it wont bother me.

Pesticides, I gotta spray to keep the bugs away.

Last thing I want is to have mosquitoes and bees ruin the fun.

Now to place my boat dock in the water, and get the fishing boat in the water.

I can't wait to get in some serious fishing, and swimming with the kids and grand kids.

(Phragmites Grass)

Years pass by, and it goes something like this. (husband and wife talking).

"You know Hun, fishing isn't what it used to be, and that dang algae bloom is enough to choke off anything.

Nothing seems to grow, except the stuff you don't want."

"I was meaning to talk to you dear.

That 'Houttuynia' I thought was so wonderful, it's everywhere now.

The Ajuga is slowly taking over too.

Can you get rid of it?

And birds, butterflies and other wildlife is missing also.

I can't tell you the last time I saw a toad in the garden."

"Now that you mention it, I haven't seen tadpoles for a couple of years, and very few fry (baby fish) along the shoreline.

And I'm tired of cleaning the Zebra muscles off the boat every time I want to take it to another lake."

(Purple Loosestrife)

What's going on here?

Now don't say a word...........

Between you, me and the fence post.

I'm a bit of a know it all.

Throw in the man genes, and who's gonna ask for help?

Oh Well...................

It's time to man up, and eat some humble pie.

I don't know everything.

I think I really blew it this time.

Tomorrow I will call my state's Department of Natural Resources.

Okay, this may sound a bit extreme.............

Then again, maybe not.

(Mile a Minute Weed.)

, many of our waterways are in a state of emergency.


Many scenes have played out that are similar to my mock saga.

Many are still taking place.

In nature, nothing saddens me more than when a wetland/marsh is filled in for the sake of progress.

Untold numbers of life forms are lost.

Breeding grounds for birds, frogs/toads, salamanders, insects, and minnows are gone forever.

Local populations decline, while pests may increase.

(Invasive Hydrilla)

Introduced species of plants have a negative impact as well.

The drama above used some invasive (non-native) plants.

'Phragmites grass' is invasive and chokes out native plant life.

As do 'Houttuynia', 'Aguga' and other introduced plants.

(Ask anyone that has Aegopodium podagraria.)

Non-native plants don't feed the insects (besides pollinators).

Native grasses feed a host of insects and butterflies.

Native trees do to as well.

(Viceroy Butterfly)

'Norway maple' are on just about everyone's invasive species list.

When was the last time you spotted insect, 'chew holes' on the leaves of 'Bradford pear'?

Now check this out.

(Willows are a favorite host for Viceroy, Mourning Cloak, and other butterflies.)

The willows and oaks that were removed from my lakefront property
above (I wish), feed a host of butterfly and moth larvae.

Oaks (Quercus species) support 534 different species of 'Lepidoptera' species.

Willows (Salix species) support 456 species.

Birch (Betula species) feed 413 species.

Native Maples (Acer species) host 285 species of moths and butterflies.

While introduced species may offer nectar for butterflies and bees, they simply don't have what it takes to feed the Larvae or other native insects.

To feed the birds, you must first feed the insects.

Birds need a protein rich diet, especially during nesting and raising a family time.

Without insects, birds will go elsewhere, or simply die off.

Some birds like warblers and swallows, depend totally on insects.

While feeders and seed are nice, they don't get the job done.

Without frogs, crustaceans, and small fish, Birds like Herons would be no more.

Shall I continue?

What about riparian zones along rivers and streams?

Riparian zones are healthy and functioning when they have a buffer zone.

Buffers are stream beds lined with plant life.

Native trees, shrubs, and grasses that keep the banks from eroding, and help to clean the pollutants from run off and the soil before it reaches the water.

(Buffer zones along lakes and ponds work the same way.)

Long stretches of buffer zones create natural flyways for birds and a place for animals to roam and drink, and sleep.

(Local Pond)

Lawn fertilizers run off into the water.

Toxins kill, while the nitrogen and phosphorous feed and cause algae bloom.

If God intended on certain plant species to be here, he would have put them here in the beginning.

What is your invasive plant(s) species?

Here are a few, besides the ones mentioned above.

Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), in most locations, out competes native plant life.

Melaleuca (Melaleuca quinquenervia), mostly in Florida.

Mile-a-minute weed (Polygonum perfoliatum), mostly the eastern regions.

Watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), floating mats of vegetation found in thirty-three states east of the Mississippi River and recently in Colorado.

Saltcedars (Tamarix aphylla), found in the western United States, throughout the Great Basin, and California and Texas.

Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata), one of the worst aquatic invaders. Hydrilla (seawedd), depletes water of oxygen and blocks sunlight, causing serious harm to native plant and animal populations.

Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), clogs aquatic ecosystems in the South forming dense mats that block sunlight.

One last thing.

Wetlands and marshes are Nature's purifiers.

They catch soil run off, natural pollutants, and even man made pollutants from reaching our rivers and lakes.

More wildlife than you can imagine depends on these wet areas and buffer zones.

So do we.

It takes time, but wetlands and lake shores can be restored to an almost natural beauty.

Instead of groomed shores and invasive plants, allow native plants to grow and thrive.

You can easily create a walking path down to the water.

Place a bat house or two at least 15 feet above ground and facing south.

Properly locate a martin house and other nesting objects for Tree swallows and other insect feeding birds.

Create a native habitat.

Allow for nature to balance out once again.

Long ago I discovered this..........................

Nature, much like her Creator is very forgiving.

I'm sure you can find at least one success story in your state or province.

A reclaimed river, or wetland.

Restoring a waterway is healthy for all of life.

Well,, it's time to fly for now.

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

God bless.

I once had a sparrow alight on my shoulder for a moment while I was hoeing in a village garden,
and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could've worn.

Henry David Thoreau

God takes knows how to dress his natural world, much more than we do.

"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not worth much more than they?
And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?
And why are you worried about clothing?
Observe how the lilies of the field grow;
they do not toil nor do they spin,
yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.

Matthew 6:26-28

"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

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.

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