By Nina Evans
The White River Gardens is a National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Certified Wildlife Habitat garden. You can do this in your own yard, too. To be certified you need to be able to provide all the necessities of life for wild animals. The things that must be present are food (nectar, seeds, nuts, fruit, berries, foliage, pollen and insect food), water (for drinking, bathing and breeding ), cover (places to shelter and hide), and places to raise young. Recently the NWF has added “Sustainable Practices” to their list of requirements. Those are soil and water conservation, controlling exotic species and organic practices. Because of our large collection of plants, our numerous water features (especially in the Gardens), and the responsible treatment of our landscape, the Indianapolis Zoo and White River Gardens are home to many different wild animal species, and are good places for others to visit!
So what might you see on your next trip here?
Birds love us! Even this juvenile hawk thought the Gardens was a nice place to hang out for a couple of days a while back.
Caterpillars Become Butterflies
You might just notice a caterpillar like this one, which will become a black swallowtail butterfly. You’ll certainly see some of the many types of butterflies and moths that frequent our gardens!
We Welcome Bees
There are so many different bees, wasps and hornets moving pollen from one plant to another or feeding on other insects that eat our plants. Catmint (‘White Cloud’) is one of many plants that attracts pollinators.
Thought by some to be frightening, there are lots of creatures that will help you out in your garden, such as spiders, some small native snakes, and other “bad bug” eaters like praying mantises and cicada killers.
Four Legged Foragers
Rabbits, chipmunks and squirrels may do more eating of plants than we like, but their antics are delightful to watch. Usually well hidden from view are the raccoons, and the occasional groundhog, fox, or muskrat that may live here.
Our water features in the White River Gardens have been around long enough that native pond species have found their way here, especially dragonflies, frogs, and a turtle or two.
Pick your day. Pick your price. Pick your package. Prices online are cheaper than at the gate.