Prairie Garden Wildlife

“We cannot in fairness rail against those who destroy the rain forests or threaten the spotted owl when we have made our own backyards uninhabitable” -from Sara Stein’s book entitled Noah’s Garden


Visitors to my prairie garden!

Over the past several years, I have been keeping a list of wildlife species that have visited my vegetable and prairie gardens. I am surprised at the diversity of birds, bugs and wildlife that use the gardens for foraging, roosting and reproduction. By no means a complete or exhaustive list, it does give you an idea of how critically important wildlife-friendly landscape and gardens can be to the urban ecology. Look at this list, then think about how these species would be impacted if I had planted a lawn instead. Although an expanse of grass across my backyard may look great to some people, it has little wildlife value. One lawn does not make a significant negative impact to the local urban ecology, but thousands to millions of them do. That is why I chose to be an exception and to replace some the wildlife habitat that had been lost by the planting of so many lawns.

Another thing I learned from this list is that it is not just the local wildlife that depends on my little backyard (plus the backyards of others in the area who have planted wildlife-friendly landscape), but also birds that come here from other regions. Of the bird species I have noted from my gardens, approximately 40% of them are migratory. That means that they come through here and use my gardens seasonally. It also means that these migratory birds have traveled thousands of miles each year and the benefit that my small garden gives extends well beyond West Palm Beach…literally to other parts of the world.

Here is a list of some of the wildlife I have seen in my prairie and backyard over the past several years:


Painted Bunting, Cardinal, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Mourning Dove, American Crow, Fish Crow, Eurasian Collared Dove, Blue Jay, Eastern Screech Owl, Cooper’s Hawk, Monk Parakeet, Baltimore Oriole, Spot-Breasted Oriole, Common Grackle, Boat-Tailed Grackle, Northern Cardinal, Northern Flicker, Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, Kestrel, Northern Mockingbird, American Redstart, Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, House Sparrow, European Starling, Brown Thrasher, Turkey Vulture, Carolina Wren, Palm Warbler, Pine Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Yellow Rumped Warbler, Cedar Waxwing, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Common Yellowthroat



Red Admiral, Atala, Cassius Blue, Gulf Fritillary, Hairstreak, Julia, Monarch, White Peacock, Queen, Dusky Skipper, Eastern Black Swallowtail, Giant Swallowtail, Polydamas Swallowtail, Sulphur, Viceroy, Zebra Longwing, Yellow Swallowtail



Ladybugs, Box Turtle, Orange Damselfly, Opossum, Raccoon, Black Snake, Dragonflies, Honey Bees, Katydids, Glass Lizard, Tree frog, Predatory Wasps, Cone-headed grasshopper, Crickets, Tersa Sphinx Moth, Hawk moths

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