The Benefits Of Attracting & Living With Wildlife

There’s a reason parents tell their kids to go outside and get some fresh air. Being  outdoors among nature is a way for the body and mind to regenerate. For those  who live in cold climates think how much you anticipate spring when you can  open the windows and talk a walk without freezing. One of the main attractions  for people moving to year round warm climates is the benefit of being outdoors  and having a garden.  

There have been many studies done on the positive effects being outdoors or  gardening has on one’s health, state of mind and overall well being. People who make a point of staying in touch with the natural world on a personal level have  long known this. One of the best ways to reap the rewards is to have a garden  you actually spend time in especially when it includes observing wildlife. This has a deep subliminal impact and one most are missing as we live more in an urban  environment and are less connected to the natural world.  

There are several benefits to sharing your backyard with wildlife: 

It helps keep your own ecosystem clean. When you have a garden filled with  trees, shrubs and flowers they help to remove pollutants from the air. This helps  to make the air cleaner, healthier and safer for you to breathe. To attract wildlife  from beetles and butterflies to birds and mammals they need a variety of plants  for food. For the carnivores that share your garden having a small intact  ecosystem helps to attract their food that often feeds on the vegetation and small  insects the garden provides. This mini ecosystem helps to maintain a healthy  balance and life cycle without the need for pesticides. 

Last year US Green technology published an article on the benefits of gardening.  ‘Plants produce oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. They take in  carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through their leaves and use it to help  expel oxygen and water. Carbon dioxide is what we expel when we breathe- it is  a waste product by all means, and plants help recycle it into something we need  to survive! They also remove any chemicals and bacterias that may be floating  around in the air, providing an overall healthier environment to be within.’ You  can read the full article here

It helps relieves stress. There is something calming about watching animals go  about their business from finding food to building a nest and raising their young.  Ask any birder or wildlife photographer and they’ll tell you how they often travel  to remote areas and spend countless hours just watching and listening. Some do  it as living to sell the photographs, but the majority know the calming effect it has  on us. In the modern era most people are disconnected from nature thinking it’s  a place to go visit. Nature is us we are part of the animal kingdom and live in  nature as much as any other species. 

When we disconnect from that which is ingrained in our dna we feel stress. A  major cause for many modern health problems starts with stress which weakens  the immune system and allows for us to get sick. One of the best ways to stay  healthy is to get back to nature literally. In 2020 ScienceDaily published an article  about research done at Cornell involving students and how a simple walk  improved their wellbeing. Imagine what a whole garden could do.  

It gives people a sense of purpose. For young children seeing wildlife free and natural so close to home gives them a healthy respect and understanding of the  world around them. For teenagers it can be a better way to focus their energy.  Empty nesters can revisit the happier parts of being a parent and caregiver  without the constant strain on their time. Having a pollinator garden is a trend  taking off because so many of our pollinators from butterflies and moths to  hummingbirds, are struggling to survive.  

Habitat loss is a huge problem and a garden filled with their food can help prevent  the march toward extinction. Think of your garden as an all night grocery where  they can always find food. With so much development changing the landscape  from open space to a concrete one wildlife are being pushed farther out into a  barren wilderness where food and water no longer exists. Your organic garden  can help change that and even save a species. This can give a person a sense of  purpose a sense of giving back to the planet that gives them life as they help  other species to survive.  

My pollinator garden has brought several amazing life experiences and  interactions with a variety of species. Having lots of host and nectar plants I’ve  attracted more than a dozen species of butterflies and moths who come to feed  and lay their eggs. Once I had a Muscovy Duck make her nest in the garden. As her ducklings were hatching I was able to watch from just a couple of feet away  after gaining her trust for the month she sat on her nest. 

Mama Muscovy Duck checking to see if her duckling has made it out of the egg.


Newly hatched just seconds old a warm feathery nest welcomes her.


The curious sibling gives the newborn duckling a sniff and a hello.

During the Florida summers temps can hit near 100. Mother ducks sit on nests 23  hours a day. Two days before her eggs hatched we hit a heat wave. I brought her  a small bowl of water and held it near her beak. She eventually decided she  would test what was in the bowl and the next two days I brought her a fresh bowl  of cool water and held it while she drank.  

That same year I had a Yellow-bellied Cooter Turtle make 4 nests in my garden. I  watched over them making sure they weren’t predated. After hatching I found a  couple of stragglers going toward the street. I picked them up made sure they  looked ok then brought them down toward the pond.  

A Yellow-bellied Cooter Turtle digs one of four nests in my garden. They all hatched successfully.
One of the hatchlings released back toward the pond.
A Monarch Butterfly laying an egg.

There are many benefits to sharing your garden and life with wildlife. It can  benefit you and all the species that will come to depend on your garden for life.  Don’t discount the sheer joy in watching a butterfly lay her eggs, a spider weave a  web or hearing the buzz as a hummingbird navigates around the flowers. It will  be worth it. 

Click here for information about butterflies in your region

Click here for information about native plants in your region: organizations/native-plant-societies/

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