State College Bird Club Meeting
January 25, 2017
Presiding: Diane Bierly
Recording: Debra Grim
Checklist: 94 species reported
Field trips: Many are coming in March and April
Laura Jackson has bird-friendly coffee for sale, grown by Honduran coffee farmer Emilio Garcia.
Interviews are underway for the Tussey Mountain Hawk Watch. Donations are appreciated.
Next meeting: February 22: Clay Lutz from the PA Game Commission, “Barn Owl Conservation in Pennsylvania”.
December Speaker: Pam & Doug Ford, The Layered Landscape: Creating Habitats that Support Natural Systems
Pam and Doug are Penn State Extension Master Gardeners in Centre
County. Pam is responsible for the Snetsinger Butterfly Garden in Tudek
Park and its many satellite gardens (website:
http://www.snetsingerbutterflygarden.org/ has a wealth of information).
Doug is coordinating implementation of the new Healing Garden at the
Centre Community Hospital.
Pam is dedicated to carrying on the mission of her mentor, “Butterfly”
Bob Snetsinger in maintaining the butterfly garden at Tudek Park, a
cooperative effort between Master Gardeners, Centre Parks and Rec,
Frost Entomology Museum and community volunteers. They have recorded
more than 36 species of butterflies and 80 species of birds in the
habitat. As explained by Doug Tallamy in his book Bringing Nature Home,
insects are the rivets that hold life together. Our “natural” areas
tend to contain 30% invasive species, which means 30% fewer plants
maintaining the ecosystem. Gardeners play a vital role in reclaiming
more natural habitat by creating it in their own landscapes. We can’t
afford to have nature be “out there”—it needs to be in our backyards.
Replace lawn and shrubs and trees from Asia with native species.
A serious challenge to this kind of gardening is to leave it alone in
the winter. Wait until tax day to clean up the dead material. This will
help preserve the insects and other creatures that overwinter in that
cover, such as the spicebush swallowtail chrysalis that Pam had us pass
around the room.
Another challenge is weed ordinances and the attitudes of neighbors toward natural landscaping.
Insects like butterflies and moths shelter and feed in a variety ways,
making it important to create layers of different heights, from ground
covers to trees. Even a small space can usually support a small tree or
a shrub. A higher habitat diversity benefits wildlife by providing
food, water, and shelter, as well as adding beauty and interest to the
garden. Native plant species are far more attractive to native insects
than imported plants. Native oaks are especially productive, supporting
more than 500 species of Lepidoptera alone, and goldenrods support at
least 115 species. Plants like these can feed a lot of chickadee chicks.
The National Wildlife Federation hosts a database at
http://www.nwf.org/NativePlantFinder/ that gives lists of suitable
native plants with high wildlife value, based on your zip code.
Gardening for insects is also gardening for birds, as most birds feed
insects to their young. Keep in mind when selecting plants that both
host plants and nectar plants are needed for Lepidoptera, and two
thirds of those host plants are woody species. Another helpful website
is www.iconservepa.org/ by Pennsylvania DCNR.
Lawn doesn’t have to be the central feature of your yard. Plan your
landscape by laying out the walking areas first—these can be turf. The
design process can be aided by a Google Earth view of your yard and
tracing paper to create a bubble diagram. Implement the plan a little
at a time. Consider the setting—it’s much easier to move a tree on
paper than in your landscape. Get acquainted with the many wonderful
native species and find just the right ones for your home. If everyone
in the neighborhood does this, in time a wildlife corridor will be
formed, alive with birds and insects.
Minutes by Debra Grim