What happens when a plain patch of grass is rewilded with a pond, native wildflowers, and lots of brush piles and tall native grasses for local birds to thrive? What creatures would come to live in this beneficial little ecosystem?
Nature photographer Stefano Ianiro spent eight months documenting the self-balancing transformation of a small wildlife pond he built for bird photography in his Montreal yard. But birds weren’t the only visitors to move in.
“Diving beetles, backswimmers, and pond skimmers were the first to arrive. Eastern Phoebes would use the perches I set up to pick off insects, tree swallows were checking out nest boxes, brown thrashers were taking cover in brush piles, and, of course, birds were coming down for the first time to drink and bathe at the pond.”
“At the little roof garden, the chives I transplanted were one of the first plants to flower. Early spring flowers are an incredibly important food source for insects and there were a handful of native insect species feeding on the pollen, which ultimately attracted one of the fiercest predators at the pond: jumping spiders.”
…And that’s just early spring. Ianiro patiently observes the pond, nest boxes, and surrounding land for three seasons with the help of nest box cameras and his view from a DIY wildlife blind.
Plus, there are a few other predators, including squirrels, raccoons (probably), and snakes. Alert: There’s a snake eating a frog at 10m40s. But, as Ianiro explains:
“The positive is that predation is an important part of a healthy ecosystem. And the more time I spent around the pond, the more this ecosystem seemed to become the healthy one that I had envisioned…”
“It was incredibly rewarding to think about all the species I was able to attract and help throughout the past eight months. Whether it was an animal just stopping by for a quick drink or another one completing its entire life cycle at the pond, it just goes to show how a step towards native habitats, whether big or small, can quickly have a positive impact on the local wildlife.”
Bonus from the project: Taming a feral cat.
Then watch these videos about other ecosystems:
• The Pond On My Window Sill, a DIY ecosphere experiment
• Tadpoles: The Big Little Migration, a film by Maxwel Hohn
• The Soil Food Web, claymation shorts by Maxwell Helmberger
• How did Sir Lancelot Jones help create a national park in Florida?
• Brendon Grimshaw, an 86-year-old real-life Robinson Crusoe, and his Moyenne Island
• How can nature be used as a tool to restore ecosystems?