We live in Sammamish
in an oldish home on nearly an acre of property. Surrounding our home are 30-year-old western red cedar trees and a bunch of other native trees that are well known such as alder and big leaf maples. The tree we like the most is a cascara buckthorn that you can see across the yard from our kitchen window. It attracts many birds because of the berries it produces.
Our yard is kind of messy — my parents like it that way, even if the neighbors don't. The wildlife seems to like it, too, and because there are so many native plants, we don't have to do much to attract them. Aside from the trees, we have lots of shrubs like salmonberry, dogwood, and others that animals enjoy.
Right after we moved in almost eight years ago, I saw my first pileated woodpecker. They are so big and beautiful! We don't see them very often, but you can tell when they are nearby because you can often hear their calls. We have many species of birds that visit, some while they are just migrating through — like the cedar waxwings that like the cascara tree berries. We have very rare visitors, too. Twice my dad has seen a bobcat at our house early in the morning. In past years, we heard barred owls regularly, but those have become less common for some reason. This spring, a black bear was sighted just a few blocks away. We have deer in our yard almost every day and a pair of cottontails has taken up residency.
Our yard is certified by the National Wildlife Federation
(NWF) as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat
. My mom used to be a volunteer for NWF and so we've been supporting their programs. NWF has a program where it tries to get whole communities to provide for their wildlife and become recognized through its Community Wildlife Habitat
program. My community of Sammamish is trying to become certified now. When the project is complete, it will join nine other certified communities in Puget Sound, including: Tukwila, Camano Island, Lake Forest Park, Fidalgo Island/Anacortes, Alki/West Seattle, Bellingham, Kirkland, Bainbridge Island and Edmonds.
The project in Sammamish
was started in November of 2008 and so far has been very successful! Nearly 100 homes have been certified. Six Sammamish parks have also been certified: Pine Lake Park, Beaver Lake Park, Beaver Lake Preserve, Bill Reams East Sammamish Park, Ebright Creek Park and Sammamish Commons. A number of schools have been certified as Schoolyard Habitats
, too. Those include: Arbor Montessori School, Sammamish Children's School, Christa McAuliffe Elementary, Discovery Elementary and Inglewood Junior High.
In order to become certified, habitats must accomplish several important things — provide food, water, shelter/cover, and places for wildlife to raise their young, among others. By not using pesticides and herbicides, by planting native species instead of those that require a lot of extra attention (like water and fertilizer), and by not planting as much lawn, we're not only providing places for wildlife (many of which were displaced when all those homes were built in the first place), we are also contributing to a healthier environment for people, too.