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Rewilding Archives - Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city is great – you can do it, too.

Category: Rewilding (page 1 of 3)

All articles that pertain to the BCLH service, “Rewilding” – green driveways, native plant landscaping, and bird protection.

Creating lawn habitat for endangered bumblebees

In April 2017, news got around about the first bee to land on the US endangered species list: Bombus affinis, commonly known as the Rusty Patched bumble bee. It has a, well, rusty patch on its back. It’s endemic to North America, which means its range is only North America – and not all parts, either. Rusty-patched bumblebees have been decimated nine times over – that’s 90% – from earlier population counts.

This article is a prelude to next week’s Pollinator Week, June 17–23, 2019, whereby I’ll be updating and sharing posts I’ve already written earlier about how we can help bees and butterflies (and maybe even bats). It’s timely, given my previous post on converting lawn to meadow, and how June’s a productive time in the garden where you can still get started! We need honeybees, bumblebees, and native pollinators to help us. So please help them.

Also — bumble bee, bumblebee — it doesn’t matter which one you use. So I use both!

Jane

Bumblebees are important pollinators of native and fruiting crops. In some crops, the flowers need the particular buzz of the bumblebee to shake the pollen loose – they aren’t going to give it up for just any old insect!

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Replacing your grass lawn with a meadow, or just allowing one to happen

Do you hate mowing the lawn? Holy cow, I used to. We had a lawn that was half the size of a football field, and I spent many hours doing it. It’s not a hobby. And loads of gasoline spilled, actually. It kills the grass, but the grass comes back after a week or two.

When I first published this post (in June, 2017), a friend just turned me on to the Freakonomics podcast episode about America’s “stupid” obsession with lawns. It has a lot of different points of view and recommendations on what to do differently. Native species, alternative lawn care, and urban agriculture are some of the topics. Listen at the link.

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I found a bird – or a baby bird – in distress. What do I do?

If you’ve been looking up at the tops of the trees or watching neighbourhood feeders, you’ve noticed the flitting of birds newly arriving on their spring migration. If you’ve been walking around with open ears, you’ve heard the sweet musical call of the robins and almost-raucous regular trill of the red-winged blackbirds. Spring has arrived and it’s in full swing. And so we must hone our attention on our surroundings (not a hard task!)—while for some us, work begins.

The expansion of urban habitat and housing and mirrored buildings means only one thing to birds: imminent danger. There are three things we all need to take responsibility to do for birds (and this message is so old now that NOT doing something about it is delinquent).

The Top Three things to do are

  1. Put decals, tape, strings, or another form of “frit” on your windows (and those god-awful “birds aren’t real” glass balcony barriers!) so that birds can see them and avoid crashing. All windows reflecting trees, regardless of building type, from three to as high as 5 storeys up! Quick tips for right now: make a grid of scotch tape dots, chalk marker streaks, or bar-of-soap streaks across the offending window — even lipstick dots or post-it notes put into a 2″ spaced grid will help! Whatever won’t melt off in the rain, that you can remove or scrub off in June when migration’s over (more permanent plans are here).
  2. Turn off building lights at night, and
  3. SPEAK UP about this to everyone who will listen, but building managers and city councils, especially!

I’ve written about bird crashes and the resources to prevent them before, and it’s also happened to me: this story has a good ending, and it’s instructive on what to do if you have a little window-crasher.

Basically, if you find a bird that’s been injured by a window (or a passing vehicle), it’s stunned, and it needs your protection. And you’re a very frightening predator from its perspective, so you have to be careful to not get in its face while helping it!

  1. Gently pick it up, such as by wrapping your hand around it from the top, with your palm against its back and its head peeking out between your index and middle finger. This can help immobilize its wings—struggle could hurt it further.
  2. If you have to carry it any distance, ask a nearby store for a paper bag to put it in. Fold the top down and carry it as gently as if it contained an egg!
  3. At your destination, fashion a donut (a twisted ring) out of bathroom paper towels, put the ring in a box, put the bird in the ring, and after assessing its state of alertness, close the box to give it some rest.
  4. Call a bird or wildlife rehabber and inform them of the situation. They will advise you further. You may have to deliver the bird to them.

Read on for what to do about baby birds!

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How cracks in my asphalt driveway revolutionized my life

If you’ve been to this blog or my Facebook page at least once before, you’ve probably seen photos of my green driveway. They’re all over the place, like in the video here. And yet every year, just like several years before I put it in, some contractor dude who’s thinking “that ain’t right!” drops by with a card to “fix” it. (I can’t blame him for pounding the pavement looking for clients, but still…).

Sometimes he even jots a quote on the back as to how much it would cost me to rip out my green driveway and put down some blacktop asphalt driveway. You know, my green driveway cost a little more than what he’s quoting, because it was kinda fancy underneath, but I won’t have to “repair” the crack every five years like he wants me to. No, thank you.

I used to have an asphalt driveway. About the only thing you can do on an asphalt or concrete driveway that you can’t do on mine is play basketball. And maybe make chalk drawings, but you know, the city sidewalk’s right there, so that’s no biggie.

See, for a long time I had cracks in the driveway where plants would grow. That’s why they’d wanna “repair” it. But why would I let that bother me? Water percolating into the soil and being taken up by plants actually cools the air through transpiration.

“But frost heaves!” – it’s a driveway, not a highway; a little bump from a crack is not a problem.

“But bigger cracks!” More plants!

Why would I want black top + hot sun make my driveway and home hotter, rather than something cooling it down? Besides, when the plants were growing in the cracks in my driveway, guess what the bunnies’ favourite outdoor snacks were?

That’s right – CRACK SALAD!

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