Living in Harmony

By Rob Watson 9/2017

My wife, myself and our three cats live in an urban area near a creek and within half a mile of a small wildland park. We support local and migratory birds with fully-stocked feeders year-round. Birds make any neighborhood better with their songs and colors, plus they consume bugs and insects in the spring and fertilize native plants. We love to bird-watch from our living room and see how many different species we can find in our bird books.

We have placed appropriately-sized bird nest boxes around our property and have hosted several families of chestnut-backed chickadees, oak titmice and others, with our very own “bird B & B.” We even have a camera in one of the nest boxes and I have made a couple YouTube videos about the lives of our feathered tenants.

We protect the birds from our cats with enclosed cat-only areas, sometimes called “catios” that allow our cats to freely roam between the inside of the house, and several outdoor areas. Our cats love to watch and talk to the birds and the birds stay safe. Our catios protect our cats from large predators, loose dogs, traffic, and unscrupulous people.

We utilize our garden and landscape drip-irrigation system to regularly replenish several birdbaths and a ground-level drinking area - used by both birds and just about all the other wild animals that make regular stopovers in our yard as they pass through. Of course we regularly check these for mosquito larvae, although our local birds are happy to dispose of the little devils for us as well.

We have attempted to set up our wildlife support system to favor the desirable critters and discourage the undesirable critters. Of course that means making efforts to pest-proof our home.

Our water supplies are accessible to everyone while our bird feeders only feed birds, and when we put out bread scraps for squirrels and larger birds during the day so the less desirable nocturnal critters like rats and mice are not encouraged to seek it out.

We’ve had a great horned owl visitation, and some local gray foxes have begun to frequent our wildlife superhighway as they make their meal-catching and play-time rounds through our yard between the park area and the creek. A local Opossum has been investigating our yard as well.

These critters are beneficial to human urban life. Foxes help keep rodent populations down, skunks eat bugs, kill and eat rats and mice and have been known to destroy yellowjacket nests. Opossums eat termites, bugs and small rodents.

We do what we can to encourage the critters we do want around and discourage the ones we don’t want around. We have been so delighted to see how much wildlife there is around us.

Link to videos I've made at home:

Bird nest box videos:

Skunk movie:

Hilarious squirrel baffle movie (No squirrels were harmed :)

Short movie of us introducing two of our cats to one of our DIY "cat cages."

Here's the link to my YouTube channel: