Don Torino’s Life In The Meadowlands: Your Backyard – It’s A Jungle Out There!


 A skilled predator, silent and deadly, stalks its unsuspecting prey. A highly sophisticated colony of wildlife work together to survive and bring forth their next generation, unique plant life evolves to support the wildlife that has depended on it for eons as the timeless eternal struggle for survival goes on as it has since time immemorial.

No, this is not the plains of the Serengeti, the rain forests of the Amazon or even the intricate biodiverse habitats of the Great Smokey Mountains. And yet it is a place no less remarkable, no less complex or diverse than all of those wonderful places and still it is a place that more often than not goes unnoticed, unappreciated and sadly more often than not is abused and mistreated. Poisons and toxins are strewn about without concern and wildlife is often denied a place they desperately need to survive. This significant and unique part of the natural world lies right outside your door. It is your very own backyard.


 It has been said that more is known about the ecosystem of the South American rainforest than the life that exists in the average backyard, and as we leave our homes every morning we unknowingly pass by an amazingly complex ecosystem just waiting to be discovered.

Monarch Butterfly

Migratory birds on their long arduous journey right now are stopping in your backyard to rest and refuel.  Butterflies like the Monarch depend on the backyard to find nectar to make it to the mountains of Mexico to spend the winter while countless other creatures such as moths, lightning bugs, beetles, bees and reptiles need the backyard habitat as their last best chance to survive the onslaught of suburbia. Many scientists now believe the only way that we will save species such as migratory birds is to create backyard wildlife gardens in homes, schools, places of worship and businesses.

Agastache Bee

BioBlitz Your Backyard!

 If you really want to see how many life forms exist and thrive in your backyard pick a nice weekend day. turn your friends and family into a crack team of scientists and conduct a backyard BioBlitz. 

The purpose of a BioBlitz is to get an overall count of the plants, animals, fungi and other living things that make their home in a certain area. Have fun seeing how many life forms you can identify in one morning or afternoon. Use binoculars, cameras and hand out paper and clipboards to document your findings, and not to worry if you can’t ID a species right away. There are many field guides and great apps for everything from birds to mushrooms.

Box Turtle

Use An APP

There are some incredible Apps out there that will not only help you identify any species but also help you keep a running life list and at the same time help scientists learn more about the biodiversity that exists  of all the incredible life forms you will discover in your backyard. My favorite app is iNATURALIST  Just take a photo with your phone, download it and iNaturalist will  make an accurate ID for you. It does not get an easier than that. It is time we better understood, appreciated and cared for our backyard wilderness. As we now know it plays a critical part in the future of biodiversity in our environment. As climate change begins to bring nature to the brink we need to set aside a place in our backyards for nature to strive and endure and in the end create a healthier, richer place for us and our own families to live and enjoy for years to come.

3 thoughts on “Don Torino’s Life In The Meadowlands: Your Backyard – It’s A Jungle Out There!

  1. Dawn

    We use the iNaturalist app & joined a few projects too. Contributing our identification discoveries to the projects assits with biodiversity mapping for our town or certain plants plants or wildlife. It’s a fascinating activity to engage in alone or with groups or clubs. Kids and grownups alike can contribute and enjoy.


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