Author Archives: Brian Aberback

Saw Mill Trail at DeKorte Park to Reopen This Saturday (May 30)

Beginning this Saturday (May 30), the Saw Mill Trail at DeKorte Park will be reopened. The Marsh Discovery Trail and Kingsland Overlook remain closed at this time. 

The reopening of the Saw Mill Trail is a result of the public adhering to social distancing mandates and respecting the park (not littering) over the past month. We will continue to closely monitor social distancing practices and litter. The trail may be closed again if policies are not followed. Please continue to follow all park rules and regulations.

Don Torino's Life in the Meadowlands: Native Plants Are More Important Than Ever

Scarlet Tanager On Maple Tree
Credit: Jim Macaluso

It’s my bet  that since our stay at home orders came in many of you are enjoying your backyards more than ever. And by now I am also sure that you have been seeing many more birds passing through your yard than you may have ever noticed before. 

One reason for that is that you are finally paying attention to the wonders of nature in your own backyard. But also we are privileged to live on the Atlantic Flyway , the migration highway for millions of birds each year. Many of these tiny birds that weigh less than a half an ounce travel hundreds and even thousands of miles to come to rest on your suburban backyard. But unless your backyard has a diversity of native plants it could mean the end of this long, arduous journey.

The hazards of migration are staggering to think about: predators, glass windows, cars, cats, electrical wires  toxins and of course climate change, which by some studies may cause 389 species in North America to become extinct unless something is done. 

But there is something positive that we can all do today, right now, to fight climate change, habitat loss and help dwindling pollinator, butterfly and migratory bird species.The answer is simple. Put a native plant in the ground and you automatically will have made the environment a better place, not only for our wildlife but for all of us too. 

Wood thrush on Birch

Why are natives so important to our wildlife? The answer is as simple as it is complex. Native plants are perfect. They have evolved together with our wildlife for millions of years. Unlike non-native plants our natives get their berries, seeds, nuts and nectar at exactly the precise time that our wildlife needs them most.

Whether it is migration season, winter survival or nesting time there is a specific native plant that a creature depends on for survival. And the most important and the most misunderstood benefits of our wonderful natives are the insects that they alone can attract. For without that there would be no birds, butterflies or for that matter much of any wildlife left at all including us! 

Let’s take for example a white Oak Tree that can attract more than 400 moth and butterfly species that eat the leaves which in turn feed millions of migratory and nesting birds each year, as opposed to a non-native tree like an invasive Bradford Pear which has maybe 1 insect species that will utilize it. In truth your backyard might look green and lush but if it is full of non-native invasive plants there is very little for our birds and butterflies to use. It would be like you going to the super market and finding out once you get there the food is made of plastic. But by utilizing native plants in the home landscape you will make your yard a critical habitat for the local birds, bees and butterflies.

Spicebush

Another example of the perfect native plant is the Spicebush-Lindera Benzoin. This wonderful shrub gets little yellow flowers in spring for the pollinators. The female of the plant gets big, fat redberries that are full of fat for fall bird migration and it is the host plant for the magnificent Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly. It can’t get more perfect than that, unless of course you count in that you can even make Spicebush tea for yourself!

Native plants can help ease the stresses on wildlife caused by climate change, they can create critical stepping stones for migratory birds, and revitalize local pollinator and butterfly populations yet still look as beautiful as any exotic plant you can buy at any nursery. And perhaps the most important thing native plants can do is to reconnect us all with the natural world that we have become so distant from in recent times.

Changing the way we garden by creating a backyard wildlife garden will not only make a place for the creatures that need it to survive but it will also become a haven for you and your family to thrive in and enjoy for many years to come.

The hazards of migration are staggering to think about: predators, glass windows, cars, cats, electrical wires  toxins and of course climate change, which by some studies may cause 389 species in North America to become extinct unless something is done. 

But there is something positive that we can all do today, right now, to fight climate change, habitat loss and help dwindling pollinator, butterfly and migratory bird species.The answer is simple. Put a native plant in the ground and you automatically will have made the environment a better place, not only for our wildlife but for all of us too. 

Changing the way we garden by creating a backyard wildlife garden will not only make a place for the creatures that need it to survive but it will also become a haven for you and your family to thrive in and enjoy for many years to come.

For more information on creating a Bergen County Audubon Society Certified Wildlife Garden go to http://bergencountyaudubon.org/cwg/  you can also contact me at Greatauk4@gmail.com