Note: The actual day was yesterday, September 4, but close enough to my usual day to write about wildlife—plus I got photos of this adorable chipmunk in the afternoon that I wouldn’t have had if I’d posted yesterday morning!
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Did you know September 4 was National Wildlife Day? Now you do. Yes, it seems like there’s a day and a week and a month for everything and they start to seem a little too populous sometimes, but if appointing a time to celebrate something helps us notice and appreciate it, all the better.
When we think of wildlife it’s often wolves and big cats and bears and ungulates wandering the woods and plains that we think of, and because of their size and wildness and their usually distant habitat they seem, and should be, somewhat detached from our daily lives. These large and powerful wild animals have a life separate from ours, awesome to observe but generally not safely joined.
But that is not the only “wild life” that shares this planet with us, and many species live right in our midst, not domesticated but certainly not dangerous, enjoying our gardens and bird feeders, tucking themselves into little niches they find in the spaces we create for ourselves, though often completely unnoticed. Those are the creatures I write about in my articles on backyard wildlife.
They often go unnoticed because they intend to keep themselves safe by blending into the background, camouflaging the paths to their little homes and raising their young out of sight of our prying eyes. But the joy of a space around my house that is set up as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat, providing food, water, and safe living space to raise the next generation, is that, with patience and careful observance, and following the intent gazes of my cats, I get to share some insight into the daily lives of the birds, squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs, deer, voles, field mice and raccoons that live in or share a portion of this habitat.
I began gardening before I began painting, and taking these creatures into note as we crossed paths, often not amicably as they found my salad greens, ripe tomatoes and strawberries a delightful addition to their plain old violet leaves and grasses, but in time we found a way to work together, mostly, so that we could share all that was here.
Even though I began my art career sketching and painting my cats, once the door to my creative abilities had been opened I soon found other animals to be my subjects as well, including other animals considered pets and, of course, wildlife. That’s why my business name which encompasses all my art is “Portraits of Animals”, and you can see by my logo that it includes “pets and wildlife”. Fur, feathers, fins, animals are fascinating and beautiful and not self-conscious in the way that humans are, in fact it’s probably their differences from the humans I see each day that make them such an exciting challenge.
I have traveled too little to see any real wildlife aside from the critters who inhabit my back yard, and much of my larger wildlife excursions have been from pictorial resources such as magazines and calendars. Large or small, after being accustomed to seeing domesticated animals in the relative comfort of my home and neighborhood, it is almost a shock to see an animal which has never known a human and cares nothing for human companionship, and know that even the little ones could survive, possibly even better, without the intervention of humans. Studying a wild animal in its natural habitat is a reminder that the world does not revolve around us, that these creatures get along just fine (and probably better) without us, that we are really only one more species carrying out our lives on Earth. And while, for me, the inspiration to put an image on paper is always primarily a visual inspiration, wild animals carry the same emotional inspiration for me as domestic pets. Add to that the beauty of a natural landscape and you’ve got a perfect recipe for visual pleasure.
I regularly write about my “Registered Backyard Wildlife Habitat”, and even though small and in a regular old neighborhood near Main Street, it is host to plenty of native species of all sorts, especially songbirds hence my quantity of bird art, but I also have photos I’ve taken at the Pittsburgh Zoo and the National Aviary in Pittsburgh to work from for paintings and sketches, and I’m excited to be accepted into the National Aviary’s 2015 Wings & Wildlife Public Art Show this November 7 and 8. I can’t wait to share my inspirations. Visit the links below to see more articles about developing and maintaining a backyard wildlife habitat, about the art, photography, poetry and prose inspired by the life around me, and also visit my photography site “Today” to see more photos of wildlife and my Etsy shop to see my current wildlife artwork and merchandise available.
In the meantime, take some time over this holiday weekend to just sit quietly and look around you and appreciate all the things that live in your habitat.
Backyard Wildlife Habitats
My backyard wildlife habitat was certified through National Wildlife Federation’s program in 2003, and their site is still one of my favorite references for information. Visit and read about it, and begin planning your own and be certified!
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Read the entire series of introductory articles:
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Also read about my art, photography, poetry and prose inspired by my backyard wildlife habitat:
Or just read other articles in the category of Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat
All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!