Review of “Create Your Own Backyard Wildlife Habitat”

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The Feathered Quill Book Reviews just posted this review of my book:

Beautiful birds, intriguing insects, and all sorts of interesting plants – all enjoying your backyard habitat.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful?  In author Doris Dumrauf’s new book, Create Your Own Backyard Wildlife Habitat, she introduces young readers to many amazing creatures and gives ideas on how to create the perfect environment to attract them to your home.

Create Your Own Backyard Wildlife Habitat opens with a page describing some basic things that wildlife and plants need to survive. Nectar for insects, water for birds, and what is hiding just below the water’s surface? Accompanying the text is a vibrant photograph of a backyard habitat with a small pond complete with water lilies.

The bulk of this lovely book is devoted to showcasing various birds and insects that might be found in a backyard setting. First up is a very happy looking cedar waxwing with a bright red berry in his mouth. We learn that the bird makes a “zit-zit” whistle to announce his arrival. Compare to the Eastern bluebird – on the opposing page – who works hard all day catching crickets and other insects for his chicks.

There is a great selection of different birds and insects, including moths, caterpillars and butterflies within the pages of this book. On one page we meet both the hummingbird clearwing moth and his once caterpillar self, with a close-up picture of both and text describing how it drinks nectar and what type of flowers both forms enjoy.

Want to know what a chipmunk or squirrel need to survive? How about an American hover fly? These animals and numerous others grace the pages of this book. Each page features one creature, with one or two photographs, along with text briefly pointing out an interesting fact or two about that creature. Within the text are snippets the author has cleverly inserted that will help readers understand and prepare a habitat that will encourage that featured bird, moth, squirrel, etc., to come visit. Additionally, there is a two-page spread at the back of the book with “things to remember when you start your own habitat.”

No review of this book would be complete without mention of the great photographs. Yes, I mentioned them above, but really, they deserve more as they are really fantastic. Close up views of so many creatures, down to the drops of water flying around a robin as she enjoys a bath and the “eyes” on the back of a spicebush swallowtail caterpillar. They really add a lot to this book and will undoubtedly entice many youngsters to explore its contents.

Quill says: A wonderful, instructional and enjoyable book for young readers.

For more information on Create Your Own Backyard Wildlife Habitat, please visit the author’s website at: dorisdumraufauthor.com

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Welcome to Our Habitat

Our native garden provides plenty of photo objects for me. Every year I observe insects I have never seen before. It has also been a good year for monarch butterflies so far. Just this week I spotted four tiny monarch caterpillars on one butterfly weed. Here are some samples of photos I have taken recently, which will probably be featured in future books:

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Monarch butterfly on butterfly weed

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Hummingbird clearwing moth on wild bergamot

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Morning glory prominent moth caterpillar in plum tree

A German in Penn’s Woods

Just one half percent of Germany is classified as wilderness. Forests are devoid of undergrowth in which wildlife and flowers could thrive. Fallen trees are swiftly carried off. No wonder I saw fewer than a dozen squirrels during the decades I spent in Germany.

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I was awestruck when I arrived in the United States and we began exploring the state parks near our Pennsylvania home. Fallen trees, which are not removed, are covered with fungi and moss. New life emerges from the decaying wood. Ferns and wildflowers thrive in this environment. Birds flit among the trees and nest in snags. Chipmunks and squirrels collect nuts and stash them away for winter. Insects find nectar on the many native plants while also serving as pollinators. No matter which season of the year, there is always something new to discover: a wildflower or insect we have never seen before; a bird call we don’t recognize; or the intoxicating fragrance of a flowering plant.

 

Nature walks remain one of our favorite pastimes, even if it means climbing over or around a tree trunk from time to time.

 

 

 

Notes From A Nature Photographer

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As a writer, I wear many hats. I have not only published a novel in two languages, but I have been writing non-fiction photo features for many years. These articles revolve around local attractions and nature-related topics, birds in particular.

 

When the weather improves, I turn my attention to my second passion: nature photography. I specialize in birds, wildlife, and native plants that grow in our garden. You can’t be a nature photographer without caring about your subjects. Studying them and their behavior is the best way to improve your images. That includes knowing what the wildlife eat and when they are most active. As my photography evolved, so did our garden. Over the years, we have created a habitat where birds, insects, mammals, and even frogs can survive and thrive.

 

Publishing a book that included both stunning images and an engaging text was a logical next step. Wildlife is threatened by many aspects of modern life: climate change, pesticides, habitat fragmentation, fracking, light pollution, vehicles, and our obsession with lawns. What better way to demonstrate how we can help wildlife than by publishing books for young readers?

After all, they will inherit the Earth from us. I hope my books and images will encourage them to create a habitat for birds and other wildlife. Our future and food sources depend on it.

Every Day is Earth Day

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Last Sunday the world observed Earth Day. But Earth Day should not be a once-a-year event, it should be a daily occurrence.

 

I grew up in Germany, where people sweep the sidewalks every Saturday. Litter was my biggest culture shock after moving to the U.S. As the snow melts in the spring, I am always appalled at the amount of trash that has accumulated along the roadsides. Doesn’t anyone take their trash home? I appreciate the efforts of countless volunteers who collect this mountain of garbage, but why do people litter in the first place?

 

Recycling is a national sport in Germany. Everything gets recycled there: glass, metal, paper, even kitchen trash. You have to pay a deposit for plastic bottles, which enormously reduces waste because who wants to throw away money?

 

Another area where the two countries widely differ is the use of bags. In Germany you have to bring your bags to the grocery store or pay for plastic bags. This keeps many bags out of landfills and oceans. Here in the U.S. I seem to be the only customer who brings her own tote bags to the store.

 

These are just a few steps anyone can take without much effort to make the Earth more livable for humans and wildlife alike.

 

Doris Dumrauf is the author of “Common Backyard Birds,” “Create Your Own Backyard Wildlife Habitat” and “Oktober Heat”

Image: Erkaha (commons.wikimedia.org)

 

Book Launch for “Common Backyard Birds”

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Today is the official release day of my new book “Common Backyard Birds.” It is the second installment in a planned nature series, following my first book “Create Your Own Backyard Wildlife Habitat.”

In addition to writing, I am an award-winning outdoor photographer who specializes in birds, wildlife, and other nature images. Over the years I have accumulated thousands of images and have given many presentations about birds and wildlife in the greater Pittsburgh area.

It seemed only natural that I would publish a book about my feathered friends.

The book features 20 birds that are common over large parts of the United States. Told from the point of view of the birds, the reader will learn about their distinctive features, food preferences, and habitat choices.

You may view sample pages on Amazon.

 

 

A German Experience

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The post-war years shaped Germany in so many ways that I will concentrate on my home state of Rheinland-Pfalz. While I don’t personally remember the 1950s, many developments influenced my life as well as the lives of my countrymen until the fall of the Iron Curtain.

The Korean War spurred such a military build-up in Rheinland-Pfalz that it resembled a Gold Rush. Practically overnight, fields and moors were turned into air bases, army depots, and housing or recreational facilities for the American GIs who poured in. These installations provided jobs for thousands of Germans and brought prosperity to previously poor areas. Local businesses and landlords also profited from the influx of money.

Even during the 1960s, few villagers owned cars, relying instead on their two feet, bicycles or motor scooters. If we had business in town, we took the bus or train. I remember being awestruck at the sight of the huge American cars that navigated our streets.

Of course, there were also many negative aspects to these developments. I never took a walk in our village forest because it was turned into an ammunition depot before I was born. We followed the news very closely because every crisis between the superpowers could mean war. Still, life went on, despite the fact that we were living on a powder keg.

Many of those military bases have disappeared now, and we recently observed the equinox of the Berlin Wall. It has now been torn down longer than it stood. A whole generation of Germans has never lived in a divided Germany. May they never have to experience the tensions our generation and our elders endured.

 

Image: Trier Air Base (U.S. Air Force)