Garden Night Life

I most often visit my garden by day, but night can be magical too. There are quite a few pollinators out and about, but what I enjoy most in summer are the sounds. For part of my academic research I recorded primate vocalizations, and for years after leaving academia I traveled the world recording nature sounds for albums and assorted audio installations. Maybe I am drawn to the voices of nature having grown up in a home where my mom practiced constantly, so there was never any silence day or night. She and I collaborated on some concerts combining her violin with my animal recordings, which was fun for both of us.

Growing up in New York, I always looked forward to the summer insect chorus. These are the night sounds of my childhood, and when I moved for eight years to the mountains east of Seattle, I really missed them. Summer nights were largely quiet, and that seemed very unnatural. It was one of many things that drew me back east, along with the rest of the biodiversity they represent.

The katydids started calling on July 6th this year in my yard. Along with crickets, they combine to form wonderful harmonies that linger into autumn. I find them a fantastic lullaby, their soft melodies helping me drift off to sleep. As autumn approaches, the katydids are starting to grow fainter, but there are still quite a few around. This one is feasting on aphids covering the leaves and developing seed pods of a common milkweed.

Gardens are most easy to look at by day. But it’s definitely worth exploring them in the dark. There are hidden dramas going on that are easy to miss unless you search for them. A couple nights ago my outdoor camera placed on a fence near the creek picked up unexpected nighttime visitors. A mother bear and her three cubs scampered through my yard. I have previously seen a juvenile bear migrating through, but this was a welcome sighting given I live on a busy road on the main bus line, next door to a couple apartment complexes. Gardens bring wildlife of all sizes into our days, and nights. So go out tonight and explore. You may not see a feisty family of bears, but there is always something amazing to see.