Wildflower Riches: A Bird-Lover’s Meadow Transformation

Chris Wedeles loves watching birds. When he purchased his 23-acre property on the outskirts of Erin, he hoped nature would slowly reclaim the two old fields to create a forest filled with the sights and sounds of birds. But Chris and his wife soon realized the open fields could provide ideal bird watching opportunities. In their current state, the fields were ecologically unhealthy.

 

To attract birds and other wildlife the couple began the process of restoring the fields to native meadow.

Field

The fields before restoration

Preparing the old field

CVC preparing the fields

Field with Bergamont

Wild Bergamot attracts pollinators to the restored meadow

As a professional wildlife biologist, Chris had an idea of how to make the transformation happen.

Supported by CVC’s Landowner Action Fund and the federal Habitat Stewardship Program, he began the process of restoring the ecological health and biodiversity of the fields by removing the non-native and invasive species. These species can outcompete native plants that support local birds, pollinators and other wildlife.

Rather than completely clearing the remaining vegetation from both sites, he managed to maintain habitat throughout the project. He created circular restoration plots on one of the sites. These plots were planted with native species to encourage the natural regeneration of native meadow throughout the field.

Chris replaced the invasive and non-native species with sun-loving native wildflowers like Wild Bergamot and Black-eyed Susan. Both have showy summer blossoms that attract local pollinators. The standing seed heads also offer birds a source of food throughout the winter.

Creating habitat rich in native plants is the most important action bird-loving landowners can take. Pollinators not only contribute to our food production, they’re also a food source for the birds Chris and other birdwatchers enjoy seeing.

So far, Chris has enjoyed seeing Meadowlark and Bobolink (both threatened species), as well as Bluebirds, Tree Swallows and House Wrens.

Every day Chris experiences nature right at his doorstep. As the native meadows grow and mature, he is eager to see what new wildlife will begin to visit.

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