Red-legged Frogs, Long-Toed Salamanders, Tree Frogs, Garter Snakes, Alligator Lizards, Yellow Warblers, Rufous Hummingbirds, House Finches, American Robins, Downy Woodpeckers, Red-Tailed Hawks, Creek Dogwood, Sword Fern, Willow, Big-Leaf Maple, Bleeding Heart, Snowberry, Nootka Rose, Evergreen Huckleberry -- these are just a few of the many species of wildlife and plants that are native to Oregon, and represent just a small part of the amazing biological diversity that may exist in our own backyards!
Both globally and locally many of our plant and wildlife species are declining due to many factors, including harmful chemicals, loss of habitat and the introduction of non-native species such as English ivy and bullfrogs. What can you do to help stop the further loss of our native species? As the saying goes, every little bit helps, and this holds true as well if you want to provide a home for native plants and wildlife in your backyard. Providing water, such as a small pond, can attract an amazing array of wildlife, including frogs, birds, dragonflies and butterflies, just to name a few. Is your yard sunny or shady, or both? If it is shady, you could plant it with shade loving plants (snowberry or red elderberry) that also provide shelter and food for wildlife, since the berries from both plants are eaten by birds and mammals.
To make sure you will attract smaller creatures such as frogs and salamaders, don't forget to place tree limbs and decaying logs (they can be as small as 1' x 2') scattered throughout the area. Though many of us like to be neat and tidy, we should remember that nature often isn't. Those fallen limbs and leaves on the ground also provide places for frogs to hide, add nutrients to the soil and will save you money in the long run, since you won't need to add as much mulch and fertilizer.
The size of the area that you plant with natives doesn't have to be large, for even small areas will add to the biological diversity of your backyard and our region. Seeds from the shrubs and trees you plant can be scattered by the wind or by a bird or other animal, and will eventually provide food and shelter for wildlife in other areas.
Besides increasing the diversity in your yard, you may also find you have created a soothing, peaceful space for yourself, your friends and your family in which to sit back, relax and enjoy the wonders and beauty of nature.
~Sue Bielke, Biodiversity Project of Tigard