Why Wetlands are Important and Make For Pretty Photos

Did you know…

May is American Wetlands Month? Maybe take a day and explore? I know by the title, you might expect some insight on snapping the critters, but since it is Wetlands Month, better to talk about important stuff I think. Oh, the first and last photo are a bit cute, but nothing is cute on the importance of place.


Did you know…

Wetlands aid in limiting the effects of climate change?

They only cover 9 percent of our earth, but contain about 35 percent of terrestrial carbon. This is pretty amazing because they act as sinks for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. (source) Most beneficial are coastal wetlands in greenhouse gas sequestration, but if they are drained, they act as carbon sources instead.


Great White Egret

Climate change affects wetlands too, most noticeably any changes in precipitation may cause biodiversity loss.


Wetlands exist in areas where the soil is saturated for most of the year, and anything changing the water level will affect the wildlife that depends on these habitats. Wildlife, especially waterfowl and amphibians will be most affected by wetland loss or degradation. Waterfowl depends on them for food, shelter and safely raising young.


“Global climate change could affect wetlands through increased air temperature; shifts in precipitation; increased frequency of storms, droughts, and floods; increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration; and sea level rise.” (source)


Whitetail Doe

Did you know…

Some animals, like deer visit wetlands occasionally for food, water, or shelter? I photographed a small herd.


Wetland soils are wet and are even higher than terrestrial soils in organic content. Soils are often high in clay which helps to keep the water from seeping into the earth. Soil is usually black, gray or even tinged green due to the lack of oxygen between soil particles.


Laughing Gull

But it is a misconception that the absorptive properties of vegetation and soil are the sole reason water remains in wetlands. Gravity and topography are the leading reason for water remaining over time.


Nesting Mallards

“Peatlands are considered to be the biggest terrestrial carbon reservoirs on Earth but they also release carbon dioxide and methane (another carbon compound) through decomposition. If they are left undisturbed carbon storage is greater than carbon release; however, if they are disturbed they can become carbon sources.” (source)


Warmer water temperatures are more productive where wetlands can end up overrun by algae, which degrades water quality. Algae grows because fertilizer run-off causes algal blooms in the water. In excess, algae deplete oxygen in the water killing the plants, fish and animals that live there. Duckweed (a plant) also covers waters, but is useful and nutritious as food for wildlife. The disadvantage to both is in excess. They can shade out the wetland floor and affect the growth of native water plants.



Song Sparrow

Did you know…

In 2009 the US had over 110 million acres of wetlands, but between 2004 and 2009, an estimated 62,300 acres of wetlands were lost in the United States? Over half of the original wetlands of the 220 million acres believed to have existed in the lower 48 states, have been converted to other use or have been drained. Besides this, wetlands have been degraded by chemical contamination, excess nutrients, and sediment from air and water.


Great White Egrets and Great Blue Heron

Wetlands have a large variety of wildlife, some of the richest landscapes around. Many animals that live in other habitats use wetlands for migration or reproduction.


Female Red Winged Blackbird

Unlike some other habitats, wetlands will improve other ecosystems. They have a cleansing effect, cleaning water by filtering out sedimentation, decomposing vegetative matter and converting chemicals into useable form. They also recycle nutrients.

Beaver swimming.

Beaver swimming, just his head is visible.


Red-tailed Hawk

All is well…

A lot of action happens in a wetland too. Hawks may be looking for prey, yet a wetland resident, the Black Winged Blackbird is keeping the wetland safe from predators.


All is not well… butts up bud!

Other posts in the wetlands…


Butts up!

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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48 Responses to Why Wetlands are Important and Make For Pretty Photos

  1. I didn’t realize wetlands can store so much carbon.

    • I was doing my run around the area to photograph the wetlands and all the posts were already written. I never knew it was American Wetlands Month, but it makes heaps of sense. In May, the tree are just budding out and you can see so much more and animals are pairing/nesting, that is why I went. Since things appear new and fresh, I guess it is a great month to celebrate nature’s gifts. Well anyway, I was fact checking something and saw that this month was to highlight wetlands. I added a quote too.

  2. Thank you for this. If only everyone would respect the beauty and many environments of our earth. Always learn something here. Loved seeing all the wildlife you saw. That shot with the heron and the egret….ahhhh! Margie

  3. lucindalines says:

    Good information. I will add a personal piece. The farmland that I own with my sisters has some wetlands on it. There is no lake there and it is not always wet, but it qualified for a program, and in the late 1960s when my parents really needed some help, they signed up for it. We can farm it on a dry year, but we are never allowed to drain it. I know where it is because I used to help with the field work and I made a wide berth of the area one year when I could see it was wet, later my father thought he could get through it. I think it took more than two other tractors to get out the one he was using. Our piece is good for the grouse and pheasants and other small fur animals in the area.

    • We have many wetlands around here that dry for a few months too. The farm that I talk about a lot has wetlands that dry. I almost bought property that had a wetland, but the restrictions kept me from the purchase. The property was too small to have nowhere to plant anything else.

  4. Such an informative post where you explain the importance of wetlands. I certainly learned a lot. Loved the pictures too that tell a story. We have a pond on our new property. A couple actually. I am always in flux about maintaining the surrounding land and am always vigilant about fertilizer and what it can do to ponds. So far my vow is to not use any fertilizers! Pest control too can be a big deal. It is sometimes a hard line to walk but I think we can do it if we try.

    • The last post was a bit more informative on invasive plants, but the bit on carbon sinks is really interesting to know too. Nature makes places that suck up a good portion of our environmental mistakes. Trees being the most important, cleaning the air we breathe. I am one that does not use fertilizer, pesticides or herbicides myself, but do realize that my clients with much larger properties do. I have no control over their lawn services, gardeners and caretakers unfortunately. That is one reason no clients know of my blog either. I would love to have a pond myself. I need to move!

  5. Skeeter says:

    Our local “protected” Wetlands have been fairly dry the past few years with drought. Now the rains are back and I cannot wait to see how the wetlands have awoken once again. It is a wildlife mecca during the wet season but life lives within even during the drought season….

    • Drought really is playing havoc around the country and world. It is so sad to see losses too. We still don’t have the rains here, so it is a wonder how that will affect our area. I love seeing the migratory birds. I plan on visiting more as the numbers rise.

  6. Debra says:

    Sigh. I love coming to your site. I see your pictures and I feel like I am there. Where there is water there is life. We really ought to be called planet water! Thanks for reminding us about the beauty and the delicate nature of these spaces.

    • I so wish the weather stays constant enough to keep our natural lands safe and productive. It makes one thing every time one plants now. I will be traveling and I fear plants will be toast when I come home. That happen last year as I was gone for more than a week and I lost a few plants. I was shocked to see what I lost from the dry and high heat.

  7. rogerbrook says:

    Inspiring photographs, you have brightened up my day!

  8. janechese says:

    I think there are some natural cycles of wet and dry periods, we lost 45% of our wetlands in our province one year a decade ago due to drought but I see they are making a comeback in some areas. it definitely changed the migration routes of the birds.Then there are the wetlands and prime farm land that we lose to the developers – insane. I notice that we have had waters in lakes and ponds closed to the public because of toxic blooms of algae.It seems to happen more often or I am becoming more aware of these things. I found your article to be informative and a warning to care for the land.Lots of forest fires already in some areas and flooding in other areas-it is going to be an interesting summer for all of us.

    • There are cycles. Also there are different type of wetlands too. To list all that in a post was too much. 45% is a lot of loss. It makes sense that there would be a comeback in time if weather conditions are favorable. Here the weather has been dry with little snow, so many of our area’s wetlands are below what is preferable. I think it affects breeding and nesting too. It has been so long since I did work on a wetland project, but just from observation alone, it seems like they are not as productive. I am going on a walk with naturalists on Wednesday, so I am going to ask about the wetland I will be at. The walk is exploring Spring ephemerals, not the wildlife. It won’t stop me from snapping if I see them though.

  9. Phil Lanoue says:

    Wonderful photos and excellent information about the wetlands! Gotta love the butt shot too!

  10. Fergiemoto says:

    Great post and images again, Donna!
    One of my favorite places to visit is the local migratory bird refuge. With the low snowfall totals the previous season, I saw areas of the bird refuge that were DRY where they were previous filled with water. This year we had better snowfall totals and those area are not dry now, but I noticed lower overall bird populations this year than last year at the same time, and later arrivals.

    • Thank you so much. I am glad you gave first hand observation. I too thought there less water in the preserves, but I am going to ask on Wednesday to be certain. Our area has been getting less precipitation, so it makes sense the wetlands would have lower water levels. I am also not sure of bird numbers and will ask the naturalists. I just have a sense of less birds.

  11. Patrick says:

    Thank you for once again educating us while entertaining us with your beautiful imagery. Oh, how I wish I could see the egret in person. You are very blessed to have such beauty in your backyard.

  12. Love your photos!

  13. HolleyGarden says:

    I don’t know much about wetlands, but I enjoyed learning about them. And your photos are always wonderful. I always enjoy your bird photos – I know they are so hard to capture, but I also loved the photo of the deer.

    • I took so many photos of the deer herd. All females in the herd too, no fawns. Funny thing. I saw a guy with binoculars on the trail and told him about the deer. He kinda gave me a snarl and I knew instantly he disliked deer at the Preserve. He thought me a city girl that never saw a deer in her life before because I guess I seemed excited. I told him I worked at a farm that raises deer and knew deer very well. Obviously we did not hit it off. I get back to the lodge, and guess what? He was one five of the rangers. I avoided him like the plague.

  14. Pat says:

    Great info and beautiful wildlife shots!

  15. One of our master naturalist field trips included an example of wetlands that became toxic and has been reclaimed. Of course, it can never go back to its original state, but it’s encouraging that progress can be made toward improving what has been damaged. Lots of great information, Donna.

    • I had to check first if I told you this in a previous reply. I worked for a firm and was head architect for a design at a wetland site that took a year of design work. What made the site special was it was previously a chemical dump site (highly toxic) and now a brownfield. The site was to be reclaimed and made safe for animals and people. http://www.nywea.org/clearwaters/pre02fall/303050.html

      I designed an interpretive center for learning and worked with landscape architects developing the site. My building’s foundation had to float on the site, with the chemicals contained below under a thick clay cap. The idea was to take the site back as close as possible to what existed with all native plants. It was the most complex project I ever worked on. This is where I learned what I know on wetlands and native plants. Problem is I forgot so many of the thousands of native plants (names) doing traditional landscape design. I recognize them, just forget the names.

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  17. I did not know that May was Wetlands Month. Thanks for the information, most of it was new to me. I hope enough people understand this issue to prevent any major further loss of this resource. Love the red tailed hawk photos.

    • Me either! I was fact checking something in the post and there it was on the EPA site. I doubt many know the importance of maintaining wetlands. I keep running across people in my job wanting to fill them in. Most just see them as their woods flooding, mosquito hatcheries etc. and don’t recognize how important they are to the environment. That hawk did not give me much time to focus. He was eying up the blackbird and the tables turned. I always get amazed how a big hawk will flee from a much smaller bird dive bombing it.

  18. A.M.B. says:

    I had no idea that May is American Wetlands Month! This is an interesting post, and I love the pictures (particularly the turtle and the ducks).

  19. We are definately getting down to crunch time…great information. Thank you so much.

  20. Christy says:

    Hi Donna….what a great post! I just love the pictures, especially the one of the Blackbird chasing the Hawk. Thanks for this information!

  21. Thanks for bringing this important topic to light with these amazing pictures Donna…my heavy clay and depressions in the soil keep my garden areas a bit more like a wetland at times.

  22. Brian Comeau says:

    Lots of fabulous facts here Donna. This is also one incredible wetland if all the shots are from the same one. Some absolutely amazing images!!!

    • Thank you Brian. Most of the shots are from Buckhorn (near my house), but the deer and beaver dam (image below the Mallards) are from Tifft (in Buffalo). The beaver is from Buckhorn though. I am going to Buckhorn tomorrow for a walk with the naturalists. I hope to learn a lot that I don’t know. One, how the weather has impacted the wetland. Plus, if I see a bird I don’t know, they will.

  23. Loving your captures – wetlands are so important to an ecosystem and its biodiversity – ha! on the butt’s up:) Happy Thursday!

  24. b-a-g says:

    The third photo is my favourite (sorry ducks and deer). The algae looks so nutritious. It would make a great poster “No water, No life”

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