Saving living space for living things one yard at a time

News from Habitat Corridors

One of our first visits was to a home in Barrington Hills that had lots of property, most of it natural. That does not mean naturally full of buckthorn and garlic mustard; these long-time CFC supporters have been clearing invasive species for a long time, and the honeysuckle and buckthorn exist only as occasional plants and are probably doomed individuals. We walked the old oak woods, inspected sedges installed in earlier years (from CFC plant sales), and considered additional species to help stop erosion caused by sheets of water running through the woods from nearby development. It was truly a great experience to feel the crunch of oak leaves underfoot, to see rotting logs creating habitat, and to know that there are properties like this one welcoming wildlife while its owners make berry preserves from the wild native bushes. I awarded a well-deserved Habitat Corridors sign to this homeowner.

A second experience was on a small property in the center of the Village of Barrington. An enthusiastic mother told me about her nine-year old son who loves birds and who advocated for preserving the large arborvitaes on their property as habitat for mourning doves. Mom was hoping to create a little bird sanctuary outside his bedroom window. I suggested plants for that sanctuary with the centerpiece being a bur oak in the center of their front yard where it will be watched and nurtured. She ordered it. What a lucky tree!

Another terrific experience was at the home of a couple in North Barrington. We stood on a bridge above a small creek and discussed the area below us, mostly lawn, but which they hope to naturalize with native plants, a continuation of the wooded slope behind the creek. There was a beautiful, newly planted river birch. I mentioned the exfoliating bark of that tree and of shagbark hickory which they have elsewhere on the property; it provides shelter for the mourning cloak butterfly that spends the long winter as an adult under the bark of such trees. We talked a little further and saw a black floating creature soaring below us to land on the moist soil. A mourning cloak. I'm not sure who was more excited, the homeowners or me!