Owners: Seth Shteir and Kris Ohlencamp


AUDUBON-AT-HOME Restoring Habitat, One Yard At A Time by Alan Pollack

It was a beautiful spring day in 1995. I had recently retired and was enjoying my volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity. On this particular day, I was relaxing on my backyard patio and gazing at the expanse of lawn and surrounding shrubbery, all meticulously manicured except for an old, dead almond tree which had fallen over in a storm and I hadn’t gotten around to removing. I began to think; I’m helping to build habitat for people, but what about habitat for wildlife? If I were a bird or a butterfly, would I even visit this yard much less live here? Is there food for birds and other critters? Except for some old walnut trees that provided some nuts for the squirrels, the answer was “no.â€? Is there water for them to drink? No. Is there shelter to protect them from the weather and predators? Very little. Are there places for them to raise their young? Again, the answer was â€?very little.â€? And I realized something else—our yard was very boring!

I began to visualize what a habitat for wildlife would look like in our yard. It had separate “roomsâ€? that were not visible until you got there, with paths of natural material that led from room to room. It had dense foliage, tall trees, tall and short shrubs, groundcover, rock piles, and brush piles, all of which would provide shelter and places to raise young. It had plants that provided food in the form of seeds, nuts, berries, and nectar. And, it had a variety of water sources, some running and some still. I drew up a plan based on my vision, and over the next couple of years, I transformed our yard. Most of the lawn was removed (it had very little value for wildlife and consumed an enormous amount of energy and resources caring for it), replaced by most of the things I had visualized on that spring day. I added a dry streambed, which not only added interest and sheltering rocks, but also collected rainwater and solved a drainage problem.