Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Backyard Biodiversity Project

Summer is rolling across the Southern California landscape. Mornings are cool, but the clouds burn off to a haze by midday.

Like a seedling feeling the sun’s warmth and pushing up to the surface, I feel like June is time to do a little growing. So I’m bursting out of my shell and plunging forward with a project that is near to my heart.

The Backyard Biodiversity Project

For the past couple of years I have kept track of plants and animals over, on, in and under the ground here at Hummingbird Hill in Woodland Hills, California. Some of these records have been detailed, others have been sporadic. For example:

  • My record of bird species visiting our yard goes back 7 years. Originally, it was simply noting on a pad which birds I had seen during a month. Now I know which week in May to expect the hooded orioles to return. I know that a year ago today the red-shouldered hawks were just about ready to leave the nest (hawklets). As of May 2007, 64 different avian species have lived at or visited Hummingbird Hill.
  • I’ve identified 13 species of spiders, including our colony of trapdoor spiders. (trapdoor spiders)
  • We have a breeding population of California slender salamanders. Our only amphibian species.
  • We’ve seen three species of lizards, eight species of butterflies and four different species of bees.
We don’t live in the wilds somewhere, we live in suburban Los Angeles. We are close to the Santa Monica Mountains, but only two blocks from one of the busiest freeways in the U.S.

In June, I am going to do what I’ve wanted to do for years. One quadrant at a time, I am going to inventory the plants and creatures on our .75 acre of property. I think the diversity of insects, worms, arthropods, birds, reptiles, and even mammals will surprise you.

Here’s a taste of the creatures I’ve mentioned before:

Creating a Garden that Attracts Wildlife

Urban Wildlife

Native bees; Trapdoor spiders; Jerusalem cricket; gray bird grasshopper; mourning cloak butterfly; monarch butterflies

Reptiles: western fence lizard; spur-thighed tortoise, Turkey; starred agama lizard, Turkey

Birds: goldfinch; red-shouldered hawk; crows and owls; white-crowned sparrows; Bewick's wren; CA quail; Allen's hummingbirds & babies; bird houses.

Mammals: desert cottontail; mule deer; bats; harbor seals.

Native Plants: frost and CA natives; autumn

Cambria Audio Adventure - elephant seals, Elfin forest (podcast)
Bolsa Chica Wetlands - Part 1
Bolsa Chica Wetlands - Part 2 (podcast)
Solar Eclipse 2006 Turkey

Counting starts tomorrow. Get ready for a June of DISCOVERY.

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