Featured stories from Charlotte's NWF Certified Wildlife Habitats
Check out these personal stories from caring individuals who created healthy ecosystems to support wildlife. Certify your property and add your own story of giving back to nature.
A Meadow for the Overlooked. K. Kneidel
Do you remember in the movie Field of Dreams, the hope that “if you build it, they will come”? I can assure you that if you offer native plants, water, and shelter to the wildlife “out there”, they will come. I’ve "built it" by putting out a variety of plants and pretty much letting them go. I do tend them, but with the goal of creating more of a wild meadow than a manicured garden. Now established, my gardening involves controlling the advance of my native plants as they expand from year to year, and weeding out invasives that like to join the party.
I take particular pleasure in the more diminutive creatures. To illustrate, I’ve shared a photo of the egg case from an ichneumon wasp that I found dangling from a leaf, and a shot of a tiny Warty Leaf Beetle that appeared one day on my deck. The latter blends in with its environment by mimicking caterpillar poo. The wasp egg case seems less concerned, boldly displaying a pattern that begs the observer to "look at me!"
My heart goes out to these little critters that are doing their best while having no idea what’s happening around them. And I take joy in providing them a safe space in a neighborhood full of “plastic” non-natives laced with lethal bug spray
Easy and Rewarding. D. Bolls
Our certified wildlife habitat is an ordinary yard in a suburban neighborhood. We have all the elements required: food, water, shelter, places to raise young, and sustainable gardening practices.
In addition to bird feeders and nesting boxes we have planted native species of shrubs and flowers to provide natural food sources. I converted three raised beds from vegetable gardens to native perennial plants for pollinators and caterpillars. (Deer and squirrels were eating more vegetables than we were so I decided if I was going to feed wildlife then I would do it intentionally.)
I have observed birds drinking and bathing in the bird baths. We've witnessed many generations of bluebirds, cardinals, chickadees, and more being raised in the birdhouses scattered throughout the yard. A brush pile made of branches and sticks from our yard provides refuge and shelter for small creatures.
An ongoing project is to reduce lawn and replace it with natural areas by using leaves from our trees as well as from neighbors. Native azaleas and other shrubs will eventually be planted in these areas. I compost leaves with fruit and vegetable scraps as well as dryer lint, toilet paper tubes, and paper towels. A rain barrel provides free water for the garden all year long.
As we lose ever more natural spaces in Charlotte we have created an oasis for wildlife in our community. Won't you join us by creating a wildlife habitat on your property? It's easy and rewarding.
A Nature-Rich Charlotte. E. McLaney
As of this posting, I’ve lived on this property for eighteen years. As a Charlotte native, I’ve witnessed the explosion of growth in a city that dominates Mecklenburg County with direct influence on nine surrounding counties. I’ve always had a strong interest in nature, wildlife and their habitat, certifying every property I’ve owned as a means of giving back what has been lost to development. Loss of habitat continues to be the driving force behind the decline of numerous species of flora and fauna. This loss also contributes to climate change and the human disconnect from the natural world.
By reshaping the landscape surrounding my home, I am actively supporting the writings of both Richard Louv and Douglas Tallamy, who have documented the many benefits of healthy ecosystems and the basic human need for a nature rich world. Reducing the monoculture that is turf, and replacing it with a variety of native plants, brush piles, water and food sources, will transform any size lot to an active haven for wildlife to thrive.
Wildlife gardening is a work in progress, a great teacher of patience and hope, and a partnership with Mother Earth that extends far beyond my property lines. My children have learned this connection and my neighbors witness and enjoy the transformation that inspires an awakening to new practices of “yard care”.
Today, a landscape that features food, water, places to raise young, and sustainable gardening practices is full of life, color, activity, and great joy. From Barred Owls to Green Anoles, from Chipmunks to Monarchs, this property if full of wonder, curiosity, and an appreciation of basic science found in healthy ecosystems. It is my wish that as individual silos of habitat are created in Charlotte, they collectively form vast, rich corridors for all wildlife to thrive.