2018 Yard Tour: A Definite Success!

by Tammy Brown

Thank you for a great 2018 Wildlife-Friendly Yards Tour!

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The weather was sunny and warm, and made for another wonderful tour this year.  Every yard had a constant stream of visitors throughout the day.  Having sold 137 tickets, attendance was up from last year’s rainy day, and made a very successful and fun tour.  We had had so many wonderful people working behind the scenes for months to bring it all together.  Everyone’s contributions and outstanding efforts are very much appreciated.

Special thanks to the Tallahassee Democrat for publishing our article and pictures on the front page of the Chronicle.  There is no doubt this helped increase awareness and introduced some new people to our yard tour tradition.  Another special thanks to Native Nurseries and Wild Birds Unlimited.  Once again they have graciously acted as our ticket outlets as well as promoted the event, and we couldn’t pull this off without them!

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Our deep appreciation goes to our five outstanding yard hosts this year, who shared their homes and knowledge with friends and strangers.  They truly went above and beyond!

Upon arriving at Pat and Mike Meredith’s, there was a steady steam of visitors up and down the back yard to the edge of Lake Jackson.  Spotting scopes, courtesy of Sally & Dean Jue, Jim Cavanagh, and Ed Woodruff, made for excellent water bird viewing.  A total of 6 Limpkins were seen throughout the day, which we would have been unable to detect them without the scopes.  Truly a unique experience!

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Just a short distance away in Hunter’s Crossing was Susan and Clay Thompson’s bird sanctuary.  They graciously offered inside viewing (along with snacks and drinks!) from their bird window, offering a close-up view of their feeder station with the neighborhood pond as a back-drop.  Upon arriving, a hawk was perched in a tree close by and an egret was at the water’s edge.  One of the day’s volunteers, Jake Hartung, counted 23 species of birds while he was there!

Over in Killearn Susan Cason’s yard offers a wonderful retreat for wildlife. Many feeders, nesting boxes, native plants and a water feature attract a wide variety of birds to her yard year-round.  Viewing from her back yard featured a beautiful over-all view, while meandering around the back yard offered many inviting nooks and benches to relax and enjoy the native plantings and closer view of the many songbirds in this active yard.  Susan’s knowledge and experience no doubt enhanced her guests’ visits and viewing.

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A quick few-minute drive to Rob Williams and Lynn Peterson’s yard in Foxcroft also yielded many native plants along with their bird feeders and baths.  Rob put together a wealth of information and an identification system for his native plants that everyone enjoyed and learned from.  Rob and Lynn’s passion, enjoyment and knowledge of native plants and trees made for plenty of interesting conversation.  Many guests also enjoyed a short walk in the woods at the back of the property, as well as the many turkey vultures that regularly gather overhead toward the end of the day.

I think a lot of us are familiar with Glenda Simmons’ home, most famous for her numerous bluebirds and orioles. Glenda was a yard host in 2011, when she had recently landscaped with native plantings.  The plants have grown beautifully and are a perfect backdrop for her bird feeding stations and bird baths, and provide areas of shelter for the numerous birds on her property.  Glenda graciously made a beautiful display of photos of all her orioles, introducing them by name.  Yes, they are named, and each one is quite fitting!  A fun ending to a wonderful day with some great people.

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Heartfelt thanks go to all our wonderful yard volunteers, too!  They certainly helped the visitors have a friendly and informative visit, and we couldn’t do it without you.  Our yard volunteers this year were Adrienne Ruhl, Dee Wilder, Fran Rutkovsky, Michael Tucker, JoAnne Harrington, Diane Sigler, Diane Quigg, Pat Teaf, Helen King, Jan Blue, Karen Wensing, Kathleen Carr, Judy Goldman, Jake Hartung, Ann Bruce, Holly Thomas, Sally Jue, Dean Jue, Jim Cavanagh, and Ed Woodruff.

With all the fun and success, we are already thinking about next year’s tour, so please keep it in mind if you know anyone who would be a good yard host or volunteer to be a part of this wonderful experience. 

Again, my deepest thanks to all for your contributions, each one of you was a vital part to the enjoyment and success of this year’s tour!