June 4, 2013 > Reconnecting with nature at the Butterfly and Bird Festival
Reconnecting with nature at the Butterfly and Bird Festival
By Dino Labiste
Photos By Courtesy of Dino Labiste, Bill LaCrosse III, and Jerry Ting
If you enjoy mild temperatures, various cuisines, and wilderness parks, then the Bay Area is a great place to live. Many families call the San Francisco Bay Area home, as do the wildlife that share the neighborhood with us.
Tucked away in the southeastern part of the San Francisco Bay is a wildlife friendly habitat in Fremont called the Nectar Garden. Coyote Hills Regional Park is the home to this garden where families can reconnect to the outdoors and enjoy nature. The Nectar Garden provides a safe haven for butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, squirrels, wrens, and other local wildlife - from chick to fledgling, from caterpillar to butterfly.
On Sunday, June 9, Coyote Hills Regional Park hosts its 14th annual Butterfly and Bird Festival dedicated to increasing the numbers and species of butterflies and birds in the Bay Area by encouraging individuals, families, and communities to create wildlife friendly gardens. The celebration offers an opportunity to learn about wildlife ecosystems and find out how to create wildlife friendly habitats. A nursery vendor will be on site with potted nectar plants and milkweed to get you started.
Visitors can watch a master composter demonstrate how to compost food and yard waste, creating nutrient-rich soil for gardens and landscaping. Representatives of the Ohlone Audubon Society will talk about birds on the Bay Area. At the festival, attendees can join garden and bee hive tours, listen to speakers talking about butterflies, participate in family hands-on activities and crafts, view stunning nature photo presentations from local photographers, and enjoy food, and music. It is all happening at the free Butterfly and Bird Festival (automobile entry fee to Coyote Hills Regional Park - $5).
Created in 1998 as an idea of Jan Southworth, a retired Coyote Hills Naturalist, the Nectar Garden started as a demonstration garden for urban living. She was inspired after reading an article stating there were 70 to 100 different species of butterfly found in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1940s and 1950s but less than 12 species remained due to habitat loss, pesticides, climate change, and heavy grazing. Biologists suggested people start urban gardens as restoration projects and a positive opportunity to interact with wildlife in the Bay Area. The goal of urban gardens in communities and schools was to provide a corridor of safe wildlife habitats.
A frequent visitor to the Nectar Garden is the Monarch butterfly. Every fall, the western population of Monarch butterflies begins an incredible journey, migrating from the southern part of Canada to overwinter in various sites along the Central California coast and Southern California. By February, Monarchs seek mates and locate host plants, the milkweed, to lay their eggs. Visitors to the Nectar Garden have an opportunity to see the metamorphosis of Monarchs, from egg, to caterpillar, to chrysalis, to butterfly. Asclepias, the native Narrow Leaved Milkweed, Showy Milkweed, and non-native Blood Flower and Family Jewels, found in the garden, supply food for hungry caterpillars. Blooming nectar plants provide nourishment for adult butterflies. The garden, open year round, also welcomes migrating birds - Western Tanager, Allen's Hummingbird, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Golden-crowned Kinglet, and the Hooded Oriole - hunting for food and suitable conditions to raise their young.
Through conservation and restoration of natural habitats and urban gardens, everyone can contribute to restoration of dwindling bird and butterfly populations once found in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit the Butterfly and Bird Festival to enjoy a local, natural wildlife setting and find out how you can help extend its impact.
Butterfly and Bird Festival
Sunday, June 9
10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Coyote Hills Regional Park
8000 Patterson Ranch Rd., Fremont
Free Admission (parking $5)