Happy Endangered Species Day

Today is the 10th annual Endangered Species Day, where we celebrate wildlife and wild places. This is a time to applaud conservation progress and to take action to continue that progress.

Many people have organized events at parks, schools, and museums around the country. Check out the 2015 Endangered Species Day Event Directory for an event near you.

If you can’t attend an event, why not celebrate your own personal way?

  • Read a book on conservation and biodiversity such as Animal Investigators: How the World’s First Forensics Lab Is Solving Crimes and Saving Endangered Species by Laurel A. Neme or The Future of Life by Edward O. Wilson.

  • Watch the award-winning film DamNation. “This powerful film odyssey across America explores the sea change in our national attitude from pride in big dams as engineering wonders to the growing awareness that our own future is bound to the life and health of our rivers.” ~DamNationfilm.com

  • Plant a native wildflower garden

  • Hang a bat house

  • hang a bat house to protect bats

    image courtesy of packwoodworking.blogspot.com

     

    Teach a kid about endangered wildlife by reading Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle or Can We Save Them? Endangered Species of North America by David Dobson

  • Ban personal use of pesticides or plastic bags

  • Donate money or time to a cause like Endangered Species Coalition

  • Clean up beaches, woods, parks, playgrounds, or other local habitat

  • Visit a zoo, aquarium, or natural history museum to learn more about the endangered wildlife in your area.

How I’m spending the day: I’m planting a butterfly garden, complete with milkweed (Asclepias), the one plant Monarch butterflies need to survive. Their caterpillars only eat milkweed plants, and monarch butterflies need milkweed to lay their eggs.

Monarchs are threatened by habitat loss and climate change. They overwinter in mountain forests in Mexico, but humans are cutting down the forests due to agriculture and tourism needs. In the US, herbicide/pesticide use is killing milkweed.

Here is the space I’m preparing:

preparing a butterfly garden for Endangered Species Day

The leaning bare bush on the left is a hydrangea that was destroyed by this year’s heavy snow. If it revives, it’ll offer shelter for birds. If it doesn’t make it, then I’ll plant a new bush.

 

My butterfly garden doesn’t look like much now.

Preparing a butterfly garden for Endangered Species Day

But the transformation looks really good in my imagination!

I’m almost done weeding, and then I’ll begin planting the milkweed. I will also include a birdbath, a butterfly house, wildflowers, and other bee- and butterfly-friendly plants. This will be a haven not just for Monarchs, but wildlife in general.

Garter snake in my backyard

Isn’t he cute?

Yes, even snakes.

Endangered Species Day is one important day to kick off an endless string of important days where we do our part to protect wildlife and wild places. What we start today shouldn’t end today. It should have lasting effects.

In our hectic lives, it’s easy to feel too overwhelmed and not participate. Don’t look at this as a huge task. Do a little something today, with the promise of doing a little something tomorrow, and the next day and so on.

Even something as small as picking up litter in the playground where you take your kids can make a world of difference.

What will you do for endangered species today?

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40 thoughts on “Happy Endangered Species Day

  1. Kate, I am glad I read this before I left for school. Everyday should be focused on righting the wrongs of our society – it begins with us and I am with you. Enjoy being outside and building your garden – share it with us when you are finished – I’d love to see it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, Clay. But it’s tough when life is so busy. That’s why I told myself to do small things every day. They all add up. The butterfly garden will likely take me all summer, but I’m okay with that and I won’t stress out and ultimately give up. I will surely take some pictures when it’s done. Hope you have a great weekend!

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  2. I didn’t know it was endangered species day today, but yesterday I made a trip to the local zoo, where I “met” a very cute white-handed gibbon (endangered). It was a young one and seemed to enjoy sucking on his/her thumb. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay for you and the zoo! 😉 Gibbons are really cute. There’s a nearby zoo that has one or two of those also. I’ve never heard of the white-handed variety, though. I bet the thumb-sucking was adorable.

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  3. An ‘Endangered Species Day’ makes so much more sense than some of these bizarre named days we see now. It seems there’s a day for everything–Cheesecake Day, Hangnail Day, Dirt on my Shoe Day…

    Can’t wait to hear an update on your butterfly garden. Good on you. I’m not nature-y so I won’t be doing anything like that. But I do use reusable bags, and the plastic ones we have get used for other purposes. I guess that’s a start.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Now, I’d have celebrated Cheesecake Day if I’d known about it. 😉

      In all seriousness, I think that setting aside a “day” to help raise awareness about a particular cause is a great idea, because we can make it fun. There’s so much to do in this arena that I often don’t know what to focus on from one week to the next. I want to make a difference everywhere!

      It’s okay that you’re not nature-y; you do your part with the reusable bags. That’s an enormous step, and the sea turtles thank you too.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the butterfly garden! Yesterday, our yard (and others in the subdivision) was finally seeded. Over the Memorial Day weekend, we plan to lay out garden beds and get them prepared before the grass grows in them. They will be heavy on native plants for the native wildlife—too much of which is either endangered or in danger of going that way.

    We’re lucky to have a new “reforestation” area behind us, although it’s currently heavy on grassy and weedy plants and light on trees. But the birds love it, and we’ve seen groundhogs and even a beautiful red fox in it. And of course you know those native plants aren’t just good for wildlife. They need less care (i.e., fertilizers, weedkillers, and water) than others, helping to conserve water and cut down on the chemicals in the environment.

    I’ll have to write a post about them when they’re set up. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just picked up my pre-ordered milkweed today at a local nursery. My Iowan mother-in-law laughed at me because where she comes from, milkweed is so prevalent that it grows in roadside ditches. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, I guess!

      You are very lucky to have a “reforestation” area behind you. You’ll see lots of neat animals coming and going, I bet. Native plants are so much easier to deal with, I agree. And I love the wild beauty about them, more so than the cultivated beauty of those grown in greenhouses and such.

      I hope you do write a post about your garden beds. I’d love to see them.

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    • People think I’m slightly strange for loving snakes. I always have. As a child, I used to look for them in the rock wall by our house. Thank you so much, I’m having fun with my plans. I picked up my milkweed today (I had to order it from a local nursery), along with some coneflowers. I’m excited to begin this project.

      Thanks for swinging by and commenting!

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    • I hear you on the bees. Unfortunately, until we can stop using those pesticides, not a lot. I admit I use them because my property abuts conservation land and we have deer traipsing through our yard constantly. With pets and kids, I can’t risk a tick infestation. I did hear from someone recently that lavender deters ticks. I need to look into that to see if that’s true, and just how much of it I would need. If we can find natural deterrents, then we’ll be protecting the bee population. Of course, that means more legwork on our end, and probably more out-of-pocket, but I think it’s worth the extra money and time if the solutions are viable.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. An important post, Kate. Have you read Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver? It is really interesting, and an underlying theme is climate change and how it affects so many species, in particular the migration patterns of Monarch butterflies.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely post again Kate. Even the least green-fingered of us can do things to make our own yards and gardens hospitable and helpful to our little friends! Just takes a bit of research. Although I wasn’t really intending for my newly planted grass seed to be quite so helpful to the local bird population!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. Even those of us who live in apartments and don’t own land, per se, can make a difference. I was recently in NYC for a field trip for my daughter’s drama club. As the busload of kids passed through the outskirts of the city, there were loud gasps of disgust — the school kids were gaping in utter shock at the piles of trash and litter on the roadsides of the city. We don’t really see the disrespect of nature to that extent where we live (although it’s by no means perfect), but it was an eye-opening experience to those middle schoolers. They were really appalled, and I thought that was awesome. Just hope it sticks with them.

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  7. nana, nana, nana, nana, BAT HOUSE! We hung one last spring–no takers as yet, and I nearly fell off the ladder, but I’m still hopeful! Yours looks great–is that on a house or an accessory structure? And how high? Just curious. We have a relatively large in-town lot, about .78 acre, and have been trying to cultivate as much wildness as we can. We noticed that we have thousands of fireflies, but our friends in a suburban sub-division have none, and figured out that it’s the ubiquitous lawn treatments from Scotts, ChemLawn, et. al. The same stuff that kills beetle larva kills the fireflies. No wonder all the bees are dying. It’s a toxic wasteland out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey JunkChuck – actually, that photo isn’t of my bat house. I couldn’t get a good enough photo of mine, so I borrowed via Internet. I put up a bat house after my dog found a bat in our backyard. Unfortunately, the bat was sick and didn’t make it. But, the experience compelled me to put up a house. I love seeing them flying in and out at dawn.

      That’s so sad about the fireflies. I have wonderful childhood memories of fireflies in the summertime, and I think all kids need to have backyard fireflies. You’re right. It is a toxic wasteland out there.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  8. Great post, Kate. I wasn’t aware of this date, however I did watch a magnificent documentary about the struggles facing the last mountain gorillas anywhere on the planet. If you’ve got Netflix I strongly recommend watching this:

    http://virungamovie.com

    p.s. great idea about the butterfly garden, I hope it’s a success

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Darren, I just read your poem and post on Virunga. I would love to watch it. Documentaries like that are so important, as the well-made ones do a magnificent job of getting to the heart of the matter and making us care.

      I’ve made some good progress on the butterfly garden. Pics coming soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Important update. Thanks for sharing Kate. I missed it.. Nonetheless I share your mission and vision. We used to have a bat house in France. Over here I think ‘wildlife’ won’t need much to feel ‘at home’ 😉
    Would love to see your progress on the butterfly garden

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love watching the bats swooping in and out of the bat house in the early morning. They’re another species that is in trouble due to white nose syndrome.

      I think that many people don’t bother helping wildlife because they think it’ll be too expensive or it’ll take too much time. Something like hanging a bat house, or some bird feeders, or keeping a birdbath filled really doesn’t take too much time and as far as cost? I bet we spend more money on gourmet coffee. 😉

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    • I’m having a lot of fun developing the garden. I don’t get much time, what with kids’ sports and life in general. But, most of the plants are in the ground now. I need to hang the butterfly house and get some bird feeders up. It’s easier to stay committed to this project because I have a goal outside of simply keeping a garden.

      Next up? A fairy garden. 🙂

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