Commenting area

  1. Kelly Senser ( said…

    I love dragonflies (and damselflies!) too, Kelly. Slowly learning to ID the ones that visit our habitat. Fortunate to have a natural water source nearby and plenty of spots for perching. Happy day! –Kelly
    March 4, 2010 4:50 AM

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  2. Ric Brewer ( said…

    Thanks for the great story on Zoomazium’s green roof! Here’s a link to the zoo’s site with even more background about the roof:

    Also, here’s a link to the What’s in Bloom section of our site that gives a peek into the thousands of plants on the zoo’s 92 acres:

    Ric Brewer
    Woodland Park Zoo
    February 23, 2010 9:55 AM

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  3. Cubs said…

    We love that you found the entries and had fun reviewing them…thanks so much for encouraging others to explore. You saw the same wonderfulness that we did. Imagine being able to make a whole category of entries of nests built upon garden tools….amazing! Christianne White, Celebrate Urban Birds

    January 27, 2010 6:45 AM

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  4. A post after mine own blog.

  5. I enjoyed Rain Gardens: Managing water sustainably in the garden and designed landscape by Nigel Dunnett and Andy Clayden. Any suggestions for east coast rain garden resources?

  6. Enjoyed reading the case studies. Which site manages stormwater runoff most effectively or is not useful to make such a comparison?

    • I think it’s very useful to make the comparison, the problem is whether or not they’re being monitored. I’m not aware that Astor or Mt. Tabor is monitored and I haven’t found any information about performance since installation. The Glencoe rain garden was tested shortly after installation, but I’m not sure if it’s still undergoing monitoring. You can read the report from the City of Portland, Flow Test. It would be more interesting now, after it’s been installed for a few years, to see again how it’s working.

      It may be worth looking into the next time I head to Portland, that would be a fun research project. I find the Mt. Tabor interesting because that project most closely follows the ‘stormwater chain’ that is addressed in the Rain Gardens book so in theory, it would manage more effectively because it has the most systems. The other two are, as far as I know, just rain gardens.

  7. thank you, Kelly. The Vermont guide is closest to home (NYC). It is convenient that the guides are web-based.

  8. This is a great paper, Kelly. I’m going to add your blog entry to a list of resources we are creating for further information about the water cycle.

    You may be interested in the film we made at Surfrider Foundation that summarizes some of it.
    You can see it here:

  9. The Bumblebee City Nesters reminds me of the proposed bird habitat at Holbeck Urban Village ( I appreciate children interacting with the Insect Hotel.

  10. I absolutely agree Georgia, there is a lot of similarity to the design from the Holbeck Urban Village. I really enjoy how there are different creative approaches to designing habitat like this. Two major ones seem to be adapting human structures, such as houses or high-rises, into wildlife structures while the other is more of an abstract, artistic approach.

    The interaction is an interesting idea because I’m not sure how effective a habitat element can be if it’s accessible to people. Perhaps insects aren’t as impacted by human disturbance as birds or mammals may be, I really don’t know. It’d be an interesting topic to look into though.

  11. Serviceberries are delicious ( We’ve eaten a lot of the fruit this spring.

  12. Fascinating difference between the preferences of the female and male hedgehog!

    By the way, the Sustainable Sites Initiative briefly mentions stormwater management design (swales) and wildlife habitat here

  13. check out Urban Birds Offered New Nests in London at urbangardensweb

  14. Wondering how green roof designers account for the habitat needs of nighthawks and other urban birds.

  15. The short answer is that in North America they don’t really. From what I’ve seen it’s much more geared towards stormwater management and if wildlife happens to come then it’s a bonus, but they’re not specifically designed for urban birds. However in the UK and Switzerland, there are many, excellent projects that are designed for specific species of birds such as the Black Redstart in London. It’s a subject very familiar to me because this was the focus of my comprehensive project at the University of Oregon. I will post a longer answer to your thought soon with some examples from Europe.

  16. Bryant’s art work is very creative and reminded me of a recent exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum titled Trash Menagerie —

    • Thanks for that link Georgia, there are some phenomenal works on the interactive page! I think I’ll post about them later. I found them very fascinating and I really liked how so many cultures had similar ideas but came up with such uniquely creative works.

  17. Mark Owens July 12, 2010 at 12:57 pm · · Reply

    What a nice article. Thanks for the links. I am busy looking at fitting a swift box to my house to see if can help the depleted numbers. I am also thinking of fitting a nest box cameratoo. Hopefully, I will be able to show the birds using the box as well help increase numbers too. They need all the help they can get. I will e-mail over photos when my project is live if that helps. Keep up the good blog. Thanks Mark

    • Hi Mark,

      I’m very glad you found the article helpful and I’d love to see photos once you get the box going! What an excellent idea to put a camera into the box. Best of luck on your project, can’t wait to hear how it goes.

  18. The incorporation of bee habitat into a conventional yard framework is a valuable contribution.

  19. Kelly, you have such inspired observations. I am always of reminded of something or some things, like our nature-made profiles! We have one of Bradner Gardens Park in Seattle ( You’ve also inspired me to (finally!) write a profile about the butterfly habitat traffic circle in our old neighborhood in Berkeley and the habitat garden off an off ramp in San Francisco.

  20. Thank you for the nice comment Georgia! Thanks for sharing your link of the Bradner Gardens Park, another thing I was unaware of that you’ve brought to my attention in Seattle, I will go visit and check it out soon. I greatly look forward to your posts and I’m really glad I inspired you!

  21. They are a great medium to work with. I make the Biohaven Floating Islands on the east coast and am very excited about the ability to marry together the functionality of cleaning water with the aesthetics of art and horticulture.

  22. Two years ago I attended a presentation about the Biohaven Floating Island hosted by the SF Public Utilities Commission. The product was used successfully in a variety of settings.

    Am also reminded of floating farms in Bangladesh.

  23. Artificial lighting might also affect trees. See A paper about this was presented at the Ecological Consequences of Artificial Night Lighting conference in 2002. See

  24. Thought you’d be interested in this Sunset article about “Nectar plants for honey bees”:

  25. Enjoyed reading this post — rich detail. Your point about system design is well taken. A Berkeley, CA plug: in the Le Conte neighborhood, one of the traffic circles has been converted into butterfly habitat as well as the school yard across from the rotary.

  26. Will you post about your thesis project or have you already done so?

  27. I like that the roof design for your target species – the Common Nighthawk — would accommodate other avian species.

  28. Glad you saw the “Spontaneous City in the Tree of Heaven.” I bookmarked it for a future Bird Watch post or tweet. What do you think about the installation in terms of habitat potential?

  29. Oooh, I love plants with white berries so this has been on my shopping list for a while, but it’s very hard to find for sale!! I have seen it growing in the woods in my town so maybe it’s time to collect berries and try propagating it myself from seed….it’s supposed to be a good shrub for tough, dry conditions so I am interested to see how it fares on your balcony!

    • Hi Ellen,

      I agree, white berries are wonderful, especially when they last through the winter.

      You may want to try cuttings instead of seeds, I looked up Symphoricarpos in my propagation books and here’s what it says about seed. “Seeds are extremely difficult to germinate because of hard, impermeable coats and partially developed embryos”. But if you want to try, here’s how you do it: fruit ripens September to November, the fruit is macerated to remove the pulp and then the seeds dried before storage. The best way to germination is after warm stratification for 4-6 months.

      Cuttings on the other hand are extremely easy to root. Softwoods and semi-hardwoods from June-August are the easiest and cuttings are easily over-wintered.

      This information is from “The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation: From Seed to Tissue Culture”, which is an excellent book.

      If you decide to try seeds, let us know how it goes! I’d be very interested to hear about it.

      • Kelly – thanks for that info (I only just saw it!)…I think I’ll try it from cuttings of local plants next year. Promise to keep you updated on my progress!

  30. Riku Cajander October 7, 2010 at 10:37 pm · · Reply

    Looks very interesting and important book.
    But how can I get one copy, because I live here in Finland?
    I have also written two books about wildlife and gardens, and would be very eager to see the book.
    Do you know are the books delivered in Finland, too.

    Mr. Riku Cajander
    biologist, environmental journalist.

  31. I think the ideas with the trees that have been done are wonderful!

  32. Arlo Petersen October 21, 2010 at 2:54 pm · · Reply

    One summer when we lived on the south border of Camp Bonneville in Camas school district we had a swarm of thousands on the south side of our house. Then they started showing up inside. There were mounds of them in the corner of the ceiling. We vacuumed them and that is when we really discovered the foul odor of which you spoke. We got them removed but what seems like a couple of months later they reappeared. I am assuming that the warm environment might have caused them to hatch a new batch.

    For several years after, whenever we would move a piece of furniture clean out an old box, we would find many dried ladybugs.

  33. I hope you will look into the Lost Ladybug Project. With the help of citizen scientists they are tracking the different verities of ladybugs, where and when they are found. Their site includes lots of interesting information and you can submit your findings.
    During the last three years most of the ladybugs I have found have been non-native.

  34. oh wow, Kelly, that tree-shaped woodpile is amazing!! I would show it to my hubby because he loves that kind of stuff, but I’m afraid he’ll use the firewood we just ordered and try to create something like that at home…and then we’ll freeze all winter because he won’t let me use any of the logs!! Thanks for sharing, you have a great site!

  35. In Brooklyn, we find very tall communications towers to be a good place to spot perched peregrines. There is one near the southern end of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden that regularly hosts the birds; the tallest thing around for some distance, the tower serves as a cliff overlooking all the prey-ridden air below. The tower at Bishop Ford High School, across the street from Green-Wood Cemetery, often has red-tailed hawks on top of it, but peregrines like the lower rungs. The city is surprisingly raptor- rich, actually, with nesting peregrines, red-tails, and, by far the most numerous, American kestrels (who favor 19th century cornices), as well as passing-through merlins, sharp-shinned hawks, and Coopers hawks. Overhead: osprey, broad-wing hawks, and more rarely, bald eagles. Around Jamaica Bay and the Rockaway Peninsula: northern harriers. Last winter a northern goshawk spent several days in Prospect Park. You can see a lot around here just by traveling by subway.

  36. Carter Hartz November 4, 2010 at 1:50 pm · · Reply

    I absolutely love your blog. I wish every urban development would provide some type of urban wildlife habitat. Perhaps you’ve covered this in your posts, but I’d be curious to know if you believe providing urban habitats could make much of a positive impact on the rapid loss of animal and plant species that is occurring? Do you think green roofs could play an important role in preserving bird and insect species? I suppose much more work needs to be done to improve the connectedness of habitat areas in urban areas for animal movement, as well as the improve the opportunities for animals to hide, etc.

    • Hi Carter, thank you for the comment! I do think that urban habitats could make a positive impact. Granted, they can’t replace large-scale wetlands or forests, but many types of urban habitat together could be effective. Combining green roofs, planters, green walls, parks, yards, rain gardens, river banks and other available spaces could really make an impact, especially if planned to connect green spaces via corridors.

      I do think green roofs could benefit birds and insects, and in fact they already are playing an important role. In London, many green roofs are designed for the rare black redstart and are already successfully being used for nesting. Insects could benefit greatly from green roofs and some studies have indicated good insect and spider populations on various green roofs. Good design is important, specific species have different needs and there is no magic system that will benefit all.

      You’re absolutely right about the need to connecting habitat areas for movement and improving cover and shelter. There are so many opportunities out there, hopefully we’ll see more good designs in the future.

  37. Kathy Malone November 9, 2010 at 7:55 am · · Reply

    Kelly, I love this site!! Congratulations on such a wonderful site. Thanks so much for posting a link to Community ButterflyScaping (University of Florida). I really hope communities pick up on this concept, Kathy

    • Thank you for the nice comment Kathy, I greatly appreciate it! I agree, I hope communities pick up on it too. Hopefully the successful programs will serve as good case studies for other communities.

  38. Kelly, it was so great to have you as a guest writer! I really enjoyed reading about how we can become scientists in our own backyards, and the list of links for simple ways to participate is really helpful. I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts.

  39. Carter Hartz November 25, 2010 at 7:12 am · · Reply

    This is great. Thanks a lot.

  40. Great to live in a BIG DENSELY POPULATED city that supports wildlife — go NYC.

  41. Is this a ranked list of the proposals?

  42. We don’t have Bush Tits on this side of the country, but I really enjoyed watching them while a grad student in Arizona. This is great info. Thanks!

  43. Jason Dewees January 10, 2011 at 4:30 pm · · Reply

    Thanks for a wonderful post.
    Minor fact-check: wouldn’t the southwestern-most point of the *continental* United States be here? The southwestern-most point in the US as a whole must surely be in Hawaii, like South Point of the Big Island or Kure Atoll.

  44. Kelly, I enjoy these profiles.

    I am interested in the riparian habitat created via diverting street runoff. Do you have any more information on this design feature?

    • Georgia, I couldn’t find any more information about the design unfortunately, but I started to dig around looking for the firm who won the Orchid Award for it, which is AEREA landscaping. I couldn’t find much information about the firm, but I did find the name Leslie Ryan linked to it, which happens to be a professor I had. I contacted her and asked her to come comment here.

  45. Great choice and nice photos! It’s probably really good to choose a tree that you can also observe from a balcony or so. Welcome to the project!

  46. great idea to let the birds guide you!

  47. Thanks for getting the word out about the project. Do you follow Bronwyn’s recent post was about the silver birch.

  48. Fascinating post. I’ll have to read the whole series.

  49. Great round-up. Thanks for providing.

  50. Thanks for mentioning my post! Wonderful round-up of links.

  51. Birches are such fascinating trees. I look forward to hearing more. Greetings from Wales, UK.

    • Thanks for the comment Caroline! I love Wales, such beautiful scenery and lovely people. Unfortunately I only spent a couple of days there, but I most certainly plan to visit again.

  52. Bernadette Helkowski February 2, 2011 at 8:20 am · · Reply

    I attended a Winter symposium at Michigan State University last Saturday. Went to the class about bees and that we should all have a bee haven in our yards. I want to build one but I can’t locate the directions to build. I was told to visit website I could not find the info. Can you direct me to the right place. Thank you very much

  53. Great info on lupines, Kelly. I am a sucker for blue and purple flowers, so lupines have always been favorites of mine.

    I didn’t know about the link between blue butterflies and lupines. Just shows how when we lose one species, we often lose one or more other species that are closely associated with the first.

    • Thanks for visiting Ivan,

      You’re absolutely right about how connected everything is. I didn’t even get into how ants figure into these relationships. Although maybe I should have. Ants tend some species of Blues such as the Karner blue, and harvest a sugary liquid the caterpillar produces. It’s believed the ants help keep them safe from predators and parasites in turn. Another part of the story of the Xerces blue was that the native ants which tended their larvae, had been displaced by an ant from South America. Another aspect which could have also factored into the demise of the Xerces.

  54. Fascinating post. I never really thought about gardens in quite this way. Animals certainly love retaining walls, of all kinds. Here in NYC, squirrels and raccoons nest in park walls. I suppose a city park is a kind of giant, messy garden …?

  55. I guess Justin Bieber is right: Canada is simply a better country than the US.

  56. This is a fascinating study. However,I am puzzled to read the comment re. the Great Fire of London in 1666 and the sight of crows feasting on the victims. Amazingly, only a small number of people died, about 8, so hardly sufficient numbers to attract any significant number of carrion birds. I would have thought that in 17th century England, battlefields were more likely places to witness large numbers of bodies and therefore crows etc. Far more likely to provoke hatred of the birds across the country and not just in London which was a small place back then. Where did you source this information?

    • Hi Lou, thanks for reading! The information about the Great Fire came directly from Crow Planet…”The great London fire of 1666 cemented a centuries-long hatred of crows. Ravens and crows descended with such zeal upon the charred victims that the grieving survivors appealed to King Charles II, begging him to exterminate the birds, a task he oversaw with vigor. Nests were decimated and bounties paid on the skins of crows and ravens.”

      As for the death toll, there were only a few official deaths, but many more may have not been counted due to being cremated or from a low class.

      Here’s a quote from the BBC history page about the fire. “Officially, only four people died, but John Evelyn referred in his diary to ‘the stench that came from some poor creatures’ bodies’ and the true toll is likely to have been much higher, rising further in the following months.”

  57. Nice post. Crows are fascinating creatures. I love to watch them here in NYC, although there are not as many in Manhattan as I would like to see. (My experience of the Pacific Northwest from Portland to Vancouver, B.C. is that it is the heart of Crow Nation.) In NYC, I watched one crow stand on a rock in the park and, holding a nut in its beak, bang it over and over into the rock until the nut split open. Seems like a lot of work for a little meat, but then I feel the same way about lobster – too much work!

  58. hay there is this an awesome site! Great info!

  59. Sounds like a book worth picking up. I observe crows all the time- why not? They’re everywhere, and they are very interesting. Watching them band together and chase away eagles and hawks is amazing.

  60. I love your Foragings posts, Kelly. Thanks!

  61. Mary Anderson March 3, 2011 at 10:57 pm · · Reply

    I love, love, love this blog!!! Thanks for all the good articles and tips.

  62. Thanks for the link to the article about the SF garden controversy. The article only mentioned one disgruntled resident so the title seems a bit misleading.

    I interviewed Jane as part of my nature making project and I studied the city’s permeability efforts — both municipal and nonprofit — in the course of writing my dissertation.

  63. Kelly, this is a great post. Not only a solid analysis of the flower show, but your approach is very creative. Future show participants should consult with you to improve upon the wildlife factor of their displays.

  64. Your favorite that you saved for last is done by The Lusher Life Project. Mari Malcolm is the owner.

  65. Nice shots and interesting critique. I agree that designing a garden should automatically include designing for wildlife. Thanks for the facebook “like.”

  66. Nice post. Pacific NW is so rich in habitats. I lived in Portland Oregon decades ago – used to walk in a wetland area full of birds.

  67. Ecological Gardening March 23, 2011 at 2:31 pm · · Reply

    This is really interesting–new habitat from old trash. My hometown of Chicago has its own landfill story along much of the lakefront.

  68. Thanks for the great post and photos, Kelly, and for contributing to Marsh Madness! I would love to visit it some day.

    This reminded me of a book I picked up in a used bookstore some time ago: Union Bay: The Life of a City Marsh (1951), by Harry W. Higman and Earl J. Larrison. A pleasant read about urban wildlife. Seattle was much smaller then, at least the metro area. It’s nice to read that new species are still being found!

  69. Maria Mcguinness March 26, 2011 at 7:22 am · · Reply

    I would like to be on your email list.

    • Hi Maria, you can sign up to be notified of new posts via email on the top right-hand of this page in the box titled ‘Follow The Metropolitan Field Guide’. The email subscription form is the icon on the right. Thank you for visiting!

  70. I love them because they’re native, grow well in sun or shade, and with almost any amount of water. They have 4 seasons of interest too. Amazing plants, proud to have them in my garden and yard!

  71. Dan Martin April 3, 2011 at 4:10 pm · · Reply

    Great idea. I am going to share this idea with as many people as I can. More people need to be aware of the importance of using built environment to facilitate urban habitat for wild life.

  72. That’s awesome! I would love to see something like that for North American bats. Makes me want to put up a bat house.

  73. As of July 2010, eleven species of large mammals have used 24 wildlife crossings more than 220,000 times since 1996. This includes grizzly and black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars, moose, elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and more recently wolverine and lynx.

  74. Ouch, that really sounds pretty hard: lots of rain and wind. Here in Switzerland it was quite the opposite: lots of sun and not enough rain, one of the warmest Marches. I’m glad you start to see some green now and didn’t quit observing.

  75. Spring is slow to show it’s face here on the east coast this year, too. We’ll get one nice “teaser” day when it’s warm and the sun is shining, only to be followed by a week of cold, damp, gray, rainy weather. And yet I hope…….

  76. This is a great post and the obvious take away is that providing habitat to urban wildlife can and usually does improve the experience for humans as well. It does not have to be one or the other.

  77. nest box brick

  78. Canada is beautiful. We were lucky enough to visit Vancouver and Banff and I particulary remember Lake Louise. Stunning.

  79. celestial elf April 21, 2011 at 3:40 pm · · Reply

    Great Post thank you 😀
    thought you might like my machinima film the butterflys tale ~
    bright blessings
    elf ~

  80. Great post. None of these books have I read–guess I’d better get busy.


  81. David Attenborough is indeed inspirational in everything he does. I enjoy anything by him whether it be a book or a film. Your book selections are surely inspirational. And your blog certainly reflects your commitment to nature. Thank you for participating in The Earth Day Reading Project!

  82. Thank you for this Kelly … the concept is fun and streches the imagination … I have always loved the concept of underground houses and this takes that to a whole new level.
    Importantly, while the city concept has limited relevance, it will give me ideas on how to create a community focus for our surburban restoration. Our initial Mimosa Creek Precinct Landscape Plan: identifies common issues gaining support from multiple property owners with widely different motivations and perceptions of environment.
    Michael Fox
    Mt Gravatt Environment Group

  83. Floating city project was inspired by the disastrous consequences of Hurricane Katrina from 2005. which hit New Orleans. The damage was so great that the city is still in the process of rebuilding. Now a group of designers, whose base is in Boston, made ​​a new proposal for a floating city that will be located on the Mississippi River levee. The project named “New Orleans Arcology Habitat” is an acronym NOAH.

  84. Sound so interesting and noble…

  85. And I am so thrilled that you’ll be sharing your wisdom with us 🙂 Welcome to the team!!

  86. One of my favorites! We have a ton of skunk cabbage growing along the creek in our backyard. I love how it transforms the forest floor.

  87. Really like your photo montage!

  88. We’ve got Skunk Cabbage here on the East Coast too, and it’s a wonderful plant for early season flies and other pollinators. And my favorite thing is that even after a long, hard winter you know that spring really will come when you see (or smell) the first Skunk Cabbage of the year.

  89. This is so wonderful to see a community band together to create habitat for wildlife! I really hope we begin to see more and more communities doing this.

  90. Nice post. We’ve had bumble bees around the yard, but it seems like there are fewer than last year. Maybe they’ll return if the weather ever improves!

  91. I really enjoy your photographs. With my youngster on Thursday morning, I observed lots of bees in a lovely church garden in the West Village.