I see more wildlife around my Phoenix home than I do out hiking at South Mountain or in the Superstition Wilderness. An abundance of birds, mammals, lizards and insects thrive in suburban backyards and gardens, urban parks and city greenbelts. A web of wildlife habitats can be woven through even the largest city. Just a few basics will ensure success for urban wildlife and the most important is native plantings.
Native plants and native animals have co-adapted over the centuries. Food, shelter and nesting opportunities, all perfectly timed to meet the needs of the local critters are produced effortlessly by native plants. Hybrids and plants brought from other parts of the country may look pretty and add an exotic flavor to your garden, but they won’t provide for the wildlife.
Just add Water
A source of clean, pure water is another necessity for attracting wildlife, particularly in a desert environment. A fountain, a pond, even a sprinkler dripping into a saucer will beckon to birds from hummingbirds to quail to great blue herons.
Watch and Wonder
I’m thrilled by the red tailed hawks wheeling in the blue sky above my home and I’m fascinated by the monarch caterpillars munching milkweed in my front yard. I’m always on the lookout for the birds, butterflies, lizards, snakes and mammals big and small that frequent the neighborhood.
It’s all Connected
I’ve come to understand that all of the wild animals I see have relationships with plants that provide for them in one way or another, seasonally, or all year long. This blog is dedicated to sharing with you what I see and learn about the wildlife and native plants that share my outdoor habitat.
Onelookout is published weekly from Ahwatukee, a suburb of Phoenix, since 2010. I’ve learned about the Sonoran desert wildlife at Liberty Wildlife, a wildlife rehabilitation facility based in Scottsdale, Arizona. I’ve studied native plants, gardening and local bugs through the Maricopa County Extension Master Gardener program. Arizona field guides and nature books support my essays. I hope I’ll convince you to try “going native” as well.
Oh, and this rustic little bridge is at Havasu Campground. It reminds me of how easy it is to cross from a world of materialism to a world of natural beauty. It’s just a few steps.