Visiting Certified Community Wildlife Habitats

This was originally published on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.

Recently, I attended my third community wildlife habitat tour here in the Puget Sound region. This area is lucky to have a great number of National Wildlife Federation Certified Community Wildlife Habitats including some of the oldest. There are 30 active communities in the Puget Sound, 12 are certified, some registered while others are active and working towards getting their communities certified. The newest certified community, Sammamish achieved theirs in less than 2 years.

In addition to NWF certification, Washington homeowners have a triple certification option with two other partners. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has a Backyard Wildlife Sanctuaryprogram and the NW Zoo & Aquarium Alliance also has a program, all of which can be certified with one joint application (PDF).

Several of the local certified community habitats conduct annual tours of…

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Pritchard Wetlands – A Pictorial Essay

This was originally published on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.

A little known park in Seattle, Pritchard Wetlands is a treasure trove of Pacific Northwest native plants and wildlife. It may sound familiar, I included it in my recent post 5 Great Parks:: Seattle Edition. Situated along Lake Washington, the wetlands area of the park was historically part of the lake and underwater until the construction of the Ballard Locks in 1917. After the construction, the water level fell about nine feet and the area which is now wetlands was then above the water level. However, it wasn’t until the 1990’s that a renovation of the site turned it into the wetlands we have today.

Since moving to the neighborhood last fall, we’ve walked and watched the wetlands on a daily basis and I have taken photos through all the seasons so far of the…

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The Experience of 10,000 Crows

Every night from fall to spring, upwards of 10,000 crows fly from downtown Seattle and other surrounding areas to the University of Washington’s Bothell campus, located on the far north end of Lake Washington. They are here for their nightly roost, where all 10,000 of them, cawing and making a ruckus impossible to miss, gather together before descending into the wetland trees. There are several other crow roosts around the Puget Sound area, but none as large or magnificent as the Bothell roost.

Along with the University of Washington, Cascade Community College shares this campus and hosted a crow evening this past fall which included Audubon representatives on hand with bird information, crow hats for the kids, cider for all and a talk by crow expert Kaeli Swift.

I confess I’m a bit crow mad, as long-time readers may have gathered from past posts, Emerald City…

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History and Habitat at Thomas Wales Park

Located in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood, the Thomas C. Wales park was completed in 2010 and opened to the public in October of that year. The park was dedicated in early 2011 in honor of late Assistant US Attorney and Queen Anne resident Thomas C. Wales who was tragically murdered, a case which still remains unsolved. The park’s previous life as a gravel quarry had altered the landscape, leaving a large hole in the side of the hill in the shape of an amphitheater, where an unintended wetland had formed at the center. It was later used as a materials depot and previous to being turned into a park the site was neglected, the steep slopes overrun by invasive plants.  Surrounding the site are several multi-family buildings.

Artist Adam Kuby and Landscape Architecture firm Site Workshop (collaborated to bring a new…

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The Urban Garden of Keith Geller

Standing on the sidewalk, looking up a steep slope towards the home of Landscape Architect Keith Geller, you know you’re about to enter a special landscape. Over the past 30 years, Geller has transformed a bare, grassy slope into an forested urban haven. His yard has been featured in magazines, books and newspapers stories and I was excited when I saw it listed on this years Washington Native Plant Society’s garden tour. It was a cloudy and drizzly day, but despite the weather, or perhaps because of it, this was the perfect example of what a Pacific Northwest garden could and should be.

This garden is a lesson in movement, from one outdoor room to another, from shade to sunlight and always up. As the description of the garden from the tour says, the garden was started in 1981 with the New England woodland as inspiration. It has a series…

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5 Great Parks – Seattle Edition

This was originally published on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.

Every city has parks, however not all parks are created equal. Many are used primarily for recreation, others for dogs, but some are devoted to nature. Seattle is lucky to have a lot of parks, over 400 of them (counting open spaces) and the largest is over 500 acres. Following are five of my favorites to visit for nature. Many Seattlites may strongly disagree with my list because I’ve left off  the most obvious parks such as Discovery and Seward. While they’re nice parks to visit, I like the changes of these landscapes, and how they are situated, juxtaposed with the city. I’m focusing here on parks which are more designed, parks which were previously industrial sites or other changed landscapes.



Olympic Sculpture Park

Native plants, habitat…

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