We are blessed with an abundance of mature trees on the Greater West Side of Chicago. And that means birds are flying above us all the time. What makes them want to stop and linger in a particular garden? Jim Gill and Elaine Petkovsek are making that discovery. For the past year, they have been working on creating a “bird garden” in their backyard. They are putting the finishing touches on a project that’s taken some muscle, a little research… and becoming a bit of a bird-brain.
People who are curious about easy, affordable ways to add beauty to their home landscapes or who want to attract more beneficial wildlife to their yards can attend the “Birds, Bees & Butterflies: A Native Garden Tour” from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, August 10, in Oak Park and River Forest.
Appropriate for beginning to advanced home gardeners, the tour will feature eight enchanting Oak Park and River Forest native gardens featuring Illinois native plants, including shade, sun and rain gardens, according to Pamela Todd, director of West Cook Wild Ones, the tour’s organizer.
If you curl up with A Sand County Almanac by a window, you may soon be looking outside and seeing a passing dog as a “professor” of scents. You may imagine how if a nearby chickadee worked, it would have a “Keep calm” sign above its desk. Aldo Leopold’s classic book combines such memorable and humorous observations of flora and fauna on his Wisconsin sand farm, as well as his thoughts and philosophy on conservation.
Recent research shows that birds are far more capable than we once thought. They have keen visual intelligence, navigation skills, and empathy. They solve problems, make tools, and even innovate.
“The Genius of Birds” by Jennifer Ackerman, which observes this first-hand, will be the subject of the next four meetings of the Austin Gardens Book Club. All are welcome to this free book discussion.
Trees and shrubs provide butterflies, moths, birds, and bees many different resources. Planting trees and shrubs is also a great way to help out the environment, since they produce oxygen, sequester carbon, clean the air and water, and provide numerous other benefits. You can even forest bathe right in your own yard!
“Visitors loved seeing the goldfinches on the anise hyssop and cup plants, the monarchs landing on the swamp milkweed and bumblebees everywhere. There were literally ‘oohs and ahs,’” says garden host Adrian Fisher. With Mother Nature’s cooperation, the Interfaith Green Network, Green Community Connections and West Cook Wild Ones hosted a successful “Birds, Bees & Butterflies: A Native Garden Tour” in Oak Park and River Forest on August 6.