Plano, Texas, home of Gaga’s urban garden is a microcosm of urban sprawl. One of Dallas largest suburbs, Plano is completely locked in by municipalities and can’t expand. There’s little undeveloped land remaining. This land originally was farm land all the way to the Red River which forms the border between Texas and Oklahoma. Where do you suppose all the beloved creatures that filled these lands went as we filled all the land they occupied with concrete?
In the night a few weeks ago I heard a screech that was to say the least other worldly and raised such a commotion that I was spooked. The next morning in the snow we found tracks and compared it to what we believe are Bob-cat tracks. The tracks are close to the house and exit jumping on the roof of the greenhouse over the fence. The rabbit population a couple of years ago had actually gotten out of control but I have seen a reduction in the rabbit population lately.
With the snow fresh I could see exactly where the Bob-cat jumped the fence and tracked around the yard. The cat stayed very close to the house and bushes where the rabbits and birds nest and then jumped the fence to exit back to the creek behind the house.
Also regarding creatures I’ve seen in the back yard, you may have seen this article: American Backyard Feeders May Do Harm to Wild Birds Feeding Wild Birds Lures Pests, Predators, Causing Illness and Distorting Populations
By JAMES P. STERBA
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
December 27, 2002 front page article
“Most people think all that largess helps the birds. But many ornithologists and wildlife biologists say it does very little good — and even does some harm. Attracting wild birds to feeders spreads disease, aids predators such as house cats, and lures the birds close to houses and roads where tens of millions of them fly into windows and cars. House cats and hawks treat feeders as fast-food outlets, snatching birds from perches or the ground below.”
No sooner than I had read this article does a hawk start using my bird feeder as a “bird feeder”of his own to feed on my little birds. I am horrified, I am videotaping a beautiful hawk in the tree to show the kids when he actually eats one of my little birds at the bird feeder. I wrestle with whether I am upsetting the entire balance of nature with my bird feeder that by now is also feeding the squirrels. Also my pest control service has lectured me endlessly about attracting rodents. So the jury is still out on the bird feeders because I also had to spend $1500+ on a squirrel relocation program because they ate through the firewall around the fireplace and set up their own habit trail. I was home alone when they first made their presence known and I thought it was like a scene from the exorcist rather than squirrel inhabitants. I called our pest service who is also a friend in the middle of the night. I told him there was tapping in the walls and he assured me it was probably not a supernatural force.
A few years back when a wild Texas storm with straight winds blew down the fence I looked out the kitchen window early in the morning to glowing eyes in the bird bath. It was a mother raccoon and two babies bathing in the bird bath I had on the ground. I’ve seen box turtles and snakes and too many families of rabbits to mention. I count it a blessing to be surrounded by these creatures in an urban setting.
All this adds up to a great responsibility. How wonderful to have an urban garden and to see and attract wild life everyday.
One day I came home for lunch only to see vultures poised on the brick mailbox. I will leave you with the hope that a garden is a respite for all of God’s creatures. If the suirrels would have stayed in the garden they would not have had to be put into the relocation program and I could have had a new counter-top instead.
It’s in our hands folks.
We have all kinds of creatures and we make a place for them in Gaga’s Garden.