Conservation@Home Recognizes Homeowner for Pollinator Friendly Habitat

As I waited for Craig Campbell to give me a tour of his yard, which lies in the heart of Rockford, I couldn’t help but notice the number of hickory nuts littering his front yard. Looking up, I realized I was standing under the branches of a tall shagbark hickory tree. I subtly moved out of the reach of any nuts that might, at that instance, choose to use the force of gravity to bonk me on my head. As we headed towards his back yard, Craig informed me that no chemicals, herbicides or pesticides, were used on his lawn out of concern for our pollinator friends.

The Campbell yard is the typical width of a normal lot, possibly a bit wider. However, it extends quite a distance back from the house, encompassing a couple of acres of property. Down the middle is an open area, and each side is surrounded by mature trees, with many hickories and an assortment of other hardwoods providing habitat for deer, fox, turkeys, and coyotes. Several dead trees have been left standing which provides habitat and food for many other species of animals. The spring ephemerals are long gone, but trillium and others are in abundance, according to Craig. Noticing a dense understory of buckthorn and honeysuckle, Craig showed me a spot where he is working on eliminating those invasive species. Of course, those are the areas where he sees most of the wildflowers. Small steps, each year try to do a little more. Running through one section of his woods is a temporary stream, which, no doubt attracts an abundance of animals. Craig also has a brush pile and rakes the fallen leaves into the woods, providing more habitat for insects and other critters.

Running down the center of the back yard is a “wild patch” with mowed trails. A few native species of wildflowers could be found, and Craig assured me that many butterflies and bees regularly visit the area. They are particularly fond of the red clover. His son has recently spread some native wildflower seeds in this area, so in a couple of years, more butterflies and bees will show up. An organic vegetable garden, with neighboring compost pile is nearby as well.

Even though it’s in the city, Craig has had more than 50 species of birds that nest on or visit his property, including raptors such as great horned owls, screech owls, barred owls, red tailed hawks and cooper hawks. As I mentioned, deer, coyote, turkeys and fox inhabit his property. You don’t need to spend a lot of time and money to attract wildlife. By eliminating the use of pesticides and providing habitat, the mammals, birds and insects will find your home to be a welcoming site.

Submitted by Mark Luthin, NLI Trustee and Education Committee Chair

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