My recent fascination with the snowy owl visiting our town isn’t something new, I’ve always been interested in birds and wildlife. Gardening and nature to me are so closely woven together in the tapestry of life that you don’t get one without the other, and if you do you’re doing something wrong. Nature in all it’s glory ultimately controls what the gardener is able to do and the gardener can only hope to influence the garden. I believe that gardeners are simply stewards of nature, we create a buffer between the human world and the wild world. Humans are a part of the world no doubt, our mark is evident in almost every area of our planet, but it’s our duty to serve as guardians and wardens. When we work together with nature great things can be achieved.
We can invite the wild world into our gardens by encouraging birds, pollinators, and all kinds of wild creatures to visit us. With the open invitation to creatures of all kinds comes some measure of responsibility. Animals generally need to be left alone. My mind is torn into two parts in with the snowy owl. On one hand, I want to capture it in the best photo I could possibly get which would involve getting much closer to it than I have. On the other hand I know that I’ve come close enough and that moving closer would disturb the great bird and possibly frighten it away. It will leave our area soon enough but until then it needs to be allowed its space.
There are some simple things we can do as gardeners and stewards to help our fellow inhabitants of this big round green and blue ball that circles the sun. Providing food, shelter, and of course, space. Leave the creatures room to roam and be comfortable in their environment. Many gardeners even create natural woodland corridors that allow animals like deer to pass through. Gardeners can provide food in two ways, either set out food for the animals or plant plants that will nourish them. I prefer the second method for pollinators and hummingbirds and the first method for the birds. I don’t intentionally feed squirrels as they have a way of helping themselves. Our bird feeders are on poles near our birdbath garden. In the birdbath garden I planted a butterfly bush that the birds love to use as a sheltered spot to flit back and forth to the feeders. They seem pretty happy. Trees and bushes provide shelter for nesting and food to creatures to consume.
For now I’ll watch from a distance wishing I had a more powerful camera lens to get that perfect snowy owl shot. I’ll let nature take its course as a good steward would do and hope that I can aid nature as I can. The wonder of something so unusual in our area has been very exciting and we’ll miss the owl once he’s gone back to the north. But I’ll remember that all things in nature have their place.