Birds and Wildlife

Birds and Wildlife Committee Chair 2021-2022: 

This committee works for the preservation of birds and wildlife on the island.  Since June 2016, we have concentrated on educating the public on the plight of Monarch butterflies and on trying to improve their habitat in our local area.  We began with large butterfly planters filled with milkweed for caterpillars and nectar flowers for the butterflies.  In 2018, the Borough of Barnegat Light acquired land for a public park and gave the garden club an area in the existing landscaped garden to which we could add Monarch appropriate plants.  Over time, we began to run out of room.  In May of 2021, the Borough of Barnegat Light granted the garden club a separate and larger area of the park to be used for a garden specifically designed as a habitat for all pollinators, whose populations are declining worldwide.  This includes butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and songbirds.  The garden is located at the intersection of Bayview Avenue and West 6th Street, across from the Coast Guard station in Barnegat Light.

Pollinator Garden Opening  July 2021

“The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly gets all the publicity.”-  George Carlin

Photos: Jeannette Michelson

The Garden Club held a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the official opening of our new butterfly/pollinator garden at Bay Breeze Park in Barnegat Light.  On hand were garden club members, the mayor of Barnegat Light, Kirk Larson, several councilmen, and the president of the Barnegat Light Taxpayers’ Association.  Birds and Wildlife committee chair Bonnie Brodman ,thanked garden club members and others in the community who donated  their time and labor, plants, benches, and monetary gifts to this effort. All were  indispensable to the creation of the garden.  Michele Farias, president of the Garden Club Of Long Beach Island, spoke about how the seed of an idea can, when nurtured, can become a reality. The Garden Club presented  Mayor Larsen with a gift of official ribbon cutting scissors.  The mayor cut the ribbon and the audience was welcomed into the garden. Click on any photo to enlarge and begin a slide show.

 Echinacea/Coneflower  News September 2021

A recent article in the New York Times cautioned against straying too far from the traditional purple coneflower (echinacea purpura) if you’re interested in attracting pollinators.  New cultivars in shades of orange, yellow, and red do not produce as much pollen or nectar or seeds as the purple coneflowers do.  They are visited by pollinators less often, too.  The variety with the least value of all to pollinators is the double coneflower.  It has the same problems of less pollen, nectar, and seeds as the other cultivars, but in addition, it lacks the spiny, conical center which gives the flower its name.  Instead, it has a fluffy pad like center which is harder for pollinators to navigate to get to either pollen or nectar or seeds.  These are still beautiful flowers which do no harm to pollinators, but if your purpose is to help pollinators, they are probably the wrong choice for your garden.

 Monarch Population 2020

The eastern monarch butterfly population is down around 53% this year.  The population of butterflies overwintering in Mexico was below levels needed to avoid extinction.  Both the fall and spring migrations had poor weather conditions and 165 acres of habitat were lost to herbicide spraying.  The monarch butterfly is currently being considered by the US government for endangered specie status.  A decision is expected by December. The garden club no longer recommends hand raising of monarchs because studies have shown that, when compared with naturally hatched butterflies, the hand raised butterflies are sometimes confused about the direction they must take to get to Mexico and they are also less physically fit for the journey. We are doing what we can to encourage planting of milkweed for the caterpillars and nectar flowers for the butterflies.
Life Cycle of the Monarch Butterfly
Butterfly Host Plants for South Jersey

Unfortunately many nurseries and some big box stores sell invasive species. However,  there are also nurseries that provide native plants. Four Ocean County nurseries providing native plants listed:

Cicconi Farms, 1005 Farmingdale Rd., Jackson, 732-363-1420
Hammett’s Landscaping & Garden Center, 425 U.S. Hwy 9, Forked River 609-971-0453
Hoch’s Landscaping & Garden Center, 229 S. Main St., Barnegat 609-361-4310
Rare Find Nursery, 957 Patterson Rd., Jackson 732 833-0613
and 4 in Atlantic County:
Atlantic Nursery, 3072 Cologne Ave., May’s Landing 609-965-2553
Earth First Native Nursery, Egg Harbor Township 609-287-5090
Galloway Nursery, 1121 Alice St., South Egg Harbor 609-965-2071
Summersweet Native Plants, Mays Landing (Open by appointment only. Call or e-mail Joseph at 609-287-0586.

Speaking of butterflies...

Attracting Monarchs to your garden…

Here are just a few of the local plants that will draw adult monarchs to your garden. Click on a picture to enlarge.