Marilou Simon spotted an owl flying out from the bushes and landing on her roof in 2012, and the Les Jardins neighborhood hasn’t been the same since.
Simon began caring for wild animals in her backyard, and her passion has caught on with others in her neighborhood.
“After seeing the owl, my kids bought me an owl house the next Christmas,” Simon said. “I had never seen an owl before until I moved to Texas, so I put a house up on my tree to see more. Then, my neighbor got an owl, and one by one, all the other neighbors got interested, and about half of us have owls, half don’t, but eventually, they come.”
Now a member of the National Wildlife Federation, Simon’s backyard has the necessary elements for wildlife to live in a sustainable environment.
“With the National Wildlife Federation, there are four criteria,” Simon said. “You have to have shrubbery that birds could live in, provide food, provide water, and don’t use any toxic chemicals. I use all organics at my house, and there are lots of snakes and lizards and little things that would attract owls.”
By getting better acquainted with how to take care of owls from Simon, Matthew Sharp discovered an easy way to get his 6-year-old daughter, Campbell, more engaged with nature.
“We usually have to travel outside the city to witness more of that, but when she was 3, I got an owl house, and about a month later, an owl was poking its head out of the hole,” Matthew said.
“Campbell named the first owl Cupcake,” Matthew added. “You typically only see owls at dusk and dawn, so right when she woke up, the first thing Campbell did was look and see if Cupcake had her head out. Then in the evenings, we waited for Cupcake to poke her little head up.”
As the neighborhood’s love for owls increased, Wayne Bower started making owl houses.
“After looking at one of Marilou’s houses, I got a good idea of what the dimensions were and made my first house,” Bower said. “A friend of mine then wanted one, and after, a few neighbors also wanted some, so I started making them for everyone.”
Matthew said he believes the presence of wildlife and the neighbors’ care for the animals have brought the Les Jardins community together.
“It’s nice, regardless of political beliefs or everything else going on in the world, to have a common cause,” Matthew said. “We strengthen bonds in the neighborhood, and we get to meet new neighbors as well.”