The concept of “Earth Day” may sound a bit grand or lofty to many people. What are some ways that the average person can get involved in helping Mother Nature? I have some ideas!
I have been a nature lover ever since my early childhood, when I would explore the Indiana woods with my parents in the springtime. We were “mushrooming,” looking for morels. I think that is when I learned to love the sounds of the birds and the smells of the forest. My hope in life was to be a ranger in a national or state park. Even though I studied geology and biology in college, that hope got sidetracked. Later I got more interested in identifying birds. It started out with putting out a birdfeeder in our yard and learning the common backyard birds of Indiana.
Then I found the Boone County Bluebird Society, which started me on a wonderful hobby.
Bluebirds need help with nesting boxes due to loss of their natural nesting habitats.
Within a day of putting up my first bluebird box, a beautiful bluebird pair showed up! I was hooked. There is nothing like the bright flash of blue of a male bluebird on a sunny day. Now I have been president of the Bluebird Society for over 12 years. We have a booth at local fairs, quarterly meetings and I do bluebird talks for interested groups. My bluebird trail consists of over a dozen bluebird houses around the county. I try to add some new ones every year. Some people have hundreds! Visit our website for more information and links to other bluebird web pages, including the North American Bluebird Society.
Three years ago I took a course with the Indiana Wildlife Federation (which has their office near Fanimation) to become a Wildlife Habitat Steward. The elements of a backyard wildlife habitat are food, cover, water and a place to raise young. Ed and I have a certified backyard wildlife habitat at our home. The city of Zionsville, Indiana, where Fanimation is located, is a Certified Community Wildlife Habitat with the National Wildlife Federation because of the many certified wildlife-friendly areas, including town properties as well as individual homes that are certified.
As soon as I finished the habitat steward training, I started thinking about starting a wildlife habitat on the Fanimation grounds. This week we put up a bluebird house on the grassy area next to the building.
We already have many trees and shrubs, so it won’t take too much more to become certified. Do you think Nathan, Tom and Ed would let me put in a pond? 🙂 Something simpler would be to add a birdbath, feeder or small butterfly garden. Just around the corner from the office, I have another box that currently has a nest with 5 eggs in it. It’s fun to be driving to work and see the male bluebird sitting on top of the box on guard, as the female bluebird sits on the eggs inside.
Even though I never became a park ranger or professional naturalist, I’m glad I have found these outlets for my interests. Ok, I will admit that every time we visit a national park, I still get a pang of jealousy when I see a ranger in their brown uniform!! I’m happy to have the opportunities to teach people about bluebirds and bird feeding, and how to make their yards or businesses more wildlife friendly. I still have a LOT to learn myself! Think about adding a feeder, a bird house, or native plants to your yard or workplace, you’ll enjoy it.
Visit National Wildlife Federation to learn about how to create and certify your wildlife habitat, and Wild Birds Unlimited to learn about birds and bird feeding. You can visit me at the bluebird booth at this local Earth Day event:
Celebrate Earth Day/Arbor Day at our 6th annual Z’GreenFest. The Friends of Zion Nature Center and Boone REMC are sponsoring this festival featuring over 30 organizations that inspire “green” living. There will be non-stop musical entertainment, hands-on activities, live animals, and games for all ages to enjoy. This event will take place at the Zion Nature Center located at 690 Beech St. (Rain location: Zionsville Town Hall, 1100 W. Oak St).
Submitted by Christy Frampton, firstname.lastname@example.org