My Backyard Jungle: The Adventures of an Urban Wildlife Lover Who Turned His Yard into Habitat and Learned to Live with It

My Backyard Jungle The Adventures of an Urban Wildlife Lover Who Turned His Yard into Habitat and Learned to Live with It For James Barilla and his family the dream of transforming their Columbia South Carolina backyard into a haven for wildlife evoked images of kids catching grasshoppers by day and fireflies at night

  • Title: My Backyard Jungle: The Adventures of an Urban Wildlife Lover Who Turned His Yard into Habitat and Learned to Live with It
  • Author: James Barilla
  • ISBN: 9780300184013
  • Page: 122
  • Format: Hardcover
  • For James Barilla and his family, the dream of transforming their Columbia, South Carolina, backyard into a haven for wildlife evoked images of kids catching grasshoppers by day and fireflies at night, of digging up potatoes and picking strawberries When they signed up with the National Wildlife Federation to certify their yard as a wildlife habitat, it felt like pushingFor James Barilla and his family, the dream of transforming their Columbia, South Carolina, backyard into a haven for wildlife evoked images of kids catching grasshoppers by day and fireflies at night, of digging up potatoes and picking strawberries When they signed up with the National Wildlife Federation to certify their yard as a wildlife habitat, it felt like pushing back, in however small a way, against the tide of bad news about vanishing species, changing climate, dying coral reefs Then the animals started to arrive, and Barilla soon discovered the complexities and possible mayhem of merging human with animal habitats What are the limits of coexistence, he wondered To find out, Barilla set out across continents to explore cities where populations of bears, monkeys, marmosets, and honeybees live alongside human residents My Backyard Jungle brings these unique stories together, making Barilla s yard the centerpiece of a meditation on possibilities for coexistence with animals in an increasingly urban world Not since Gerald Durrell penned My Family and Other Animals have readers encountered a naturalist with such a gift for storytelling and such an open heart toward all things wild.

    One thought on “My Backyard Jungle: The Adventures of an Urban Wildlife Lover Who Turned His Yard into Habitat and Learned to Live with It”

    1. so this is a book about where ideology and reality clash. mr. barilla finally becomes a homeowner, has a bit of land and a family, and wants to create a little ecological paradise in his backyard. a place where nature can be nature, and he can sit amongst his fruit trees and watch animals frolic while he eats a homegrown, sun-ripened peach, all things harmonious he has his backyard certified by the national wildlife federation as a nature sanctuary, buys a bunch of fruit trees, follows all the r [...]

    2. Disclaimer first -- this is my hubby's book, so I'm bound to like it, right! And I appear (briefly -- wished it were more!), which adds another layer of reader reaction, a fun one, like reading a mystery novel almost. Anyway, the thing is, I read the whole thing in two sittings because 1) I love the guy for his quiet philosophical questioning and gentle humor, both of which emerge at unexpected moments of delightful surprise in the narrative, and 2) he can really write. When he's funny, he's rea [...]

    3. We may feel removed from nature living in our climate controlled housing surrounded by thousands or millions of neighbors in our urban and suburban environment but the animal world doesn't go away just because a lot of people and buildings are around. I have seen Coyotes in Stratford a town of 40,000 people and integrated in the megalopolis between Boston and Washington D.C. sometimes referred to as the Bo-Wash. And it is not just here in the U.S. the Megalopolis far in Delhi India is far larger [...]

    4. A definite disappointment, primarily because the title is so deceptive. I read this book because my backyard is NWF-certified and I was eager to read about other people’s experiences with their backyard habitats. The “Adventures” (as proclaimed in the title) of the author turned out to be mostly his adventures looking for monkeys in a few countries around the world. Very little about this book was directly related to the certification of his yard and its flora and fauna. As a book about ur [...]

    5. It is a very good sign when you are reading a book and you find yourself referring to it in just about every casual conversation you have during the time you are reading it. This is not always true (you can of course hate a book and not be able to stop talking about it because of your contempt), but it is definitely true in this case. My Backyard Jungle is framed by two questions, one global and one local/personal: How can we imagine wildness persisting, thriving, adapting in urban spaces? A cru [...]

    6. I absolutely positively loved this book! When I requested it from NetGalley, I was worried that it could potentially be a little bit boring. Well, let me tell you, I actually couldn't put it down! Barilla's writing style is so engaging and interesting, you get sucked right in to his subject matter.This book made me think twice about all the little critters that are living around my home. Possums, raccoons, mice, rats - in some cases (not near me!) monkeys and bears!! I can't even imagine having [...]

    7. Based on the title, this book is not quite what I had expected. Barilla does touch on his own work in his own yard, but also takes a much more philosophical approach of looking at human-wildlife interactions in urban areas in different parts of the world. For me, that actually made for a better book than what I had been expecting (a more focused look at planting and animals in his yard alone).I appreciated the questions Barilla raised about urban wildlife and how wild animals and humans might co [...]

    8. I received my copy of this book for free through .What a phenomenal book! A must-read for anyone who loves wildlife. This book goes well beyond one man's attempt to create an urban wildlife habitat. It is an exploration of the existing and potential human, animals and even plant relationships in urban environments. It's about finding balance in a fast-paced world; a balance between all living things, from bears to bees, rats to monkeys (and don't forget the squirrels). Filled to the brim with po [...]

    9. I was disappointed and more than a little annoyed by the "bait and switch" tactics of this book. You would think that a book titled My Backyard Jungle would have something to do with the flora and fauna in the writer's back yard. But that is not at all the case. He travels from Florida to India discussing animal life everywhere but his back yard. Since our backyard is a certified wildlife habitat, I was very much looking forward to reading about how someone else attracted and observed wildlife i [...]

    10. This title is misleading! I wanted more about his backyard. Who cares about the monkeys in another country!

    11. This is unfortunately one of those books that the title promises so much more than the book actually delivers and was more of a disappointment when I finally got around to read it since it doesn't deliver what it promises the reader. What definitely helped this book to catch my eye was that this book was on a display offered by the local library on ecosystem, especially prairie-based habitats so basically by association and the title itself than the reader is given the idea that this book is bas [...]

    12. This book was not what I thought it was going to be based on it's subtitle. The focus is less on his own yard habitat than him globe-trotting around examining transitional habitats of different animal species with different human cultures of urban life. That did make it an interesting & informative read, albeit one that jumps around a bit.

    13. This book had a lot of potential at the start but it seemed like the author just scraped the surface of how people interact with wildlife. Mostly because he wanted to travel to India and Brazil. I was expecting more truthfully

    14. Really nice book - totally didnt expect the contents really different to what i was expecting, really interesting and easy to read

    15. I'm left with so much to think about after reading this book. The fact that some critically endangered animals that we think of as incompatible with human development might survive, and even thrive, under the right conditions in an urban environment is radically different than the message we often hear. It gives me hope, even if the interactions between humans and wildlife in what we think of as our space are problematic. With more studies of urban wildlife populations and more education for tho [...]

    16. Two years ago we received a Backyard Wildlife Habitat certification from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Thus, I felt a strong empathy with the author when he signed up for yard certification from the National Wildlife Federation. As stated in the book fly leaf, "it felt like pushing back against a tide of bad news about vanishing species, changing climate, and dying coral reefs. Then the animals started to arrive". I was also drawn by the extended title "The Adventures of an Urban Wil [...]

    17. Having fought off nutria that devoured my lovely garden lettuces, I particularly appreciate a book that helps me understand the wild beasts that share our urban environment. Humans and wildlife in our cities have a fraught relationship: we may love deer and value honeybees, but even they present problems. The author ventures out – and often in and down - with pest control experts who remove raccoons, squirrels, and rats, all creatures searching for our leftovers. Barilla’s book is a fine exa [...]

    18. Well-written and interesting read, but between the title & subtitle, my (too) brief skim of the synopsis, and the misleadingly ADORABLE raccoon on the cover, I wanted this to be a book about his personal experiences in his own habitat, not his research trips. Is the plight of the monkeys in India and Brazil relevant to his - or mine - urban American backyard? In a greater ecological sense, yes. But flying out of the country to feed primates bananas wasn't what I was expecting from "The Adven [...]

    19. My Backyard Jungle: The Adventures of an Urban Wildlife Lover Who Turned His Yard into Habitat and Learned to Live with It by James Barilla (Yale University Press 2013)(577.56)is the story of an academic who chose to turn the first yard he ever owned into an environmentally friendly "Certified Wildlife Habitat." The author delivered a curve ball when it becomes obvious that this book is not about attracting toads and dragonflies to one's backyard. It is instead a report on several disparate anim [...]

    20. I dream of a yard where I can go outside and watch red foxes frolicking in my Rhododendron. Yep, even we politically conservative folks enjoy dreams of living in harmony with nature.Thus begins James Barilla's adventure. However, through his own personal travails and his extensive travels, he discovers it might not be the stuff of which dreams are made. Great book and very eye-opening. Written with a sense of humor and humility, I recommend this to anyone who dreams of living with natured isn't [...]

    21. Very interesting and well researched book on living with our wildlife. I found most of it fascinating except for the chapters on monkeys in India and Brazil. These sections seemed to drag as he went from place to place looking for monkeys living with people. If you stick to the chapters on local wildlife you will feel inspired to do what you can to help live with and not exterminate our furry neighbors. I put a bird bath in my yard to encourage bird to roost in the safety of my yard and filled u [...]

    22. This is an interesting, well-written and enjoyable book--well worth reading. However it really is not about the author's "Backyard Jungle". It's about his thoughts and feelings and travels and learning about humans living with other species, as a result of having decided to establish an urban wildlife habitat at his new home in Columbia, SC. I would urge the author to write a sequel in a few years with news of his back yard.

    23. This wasn't about urban/suburban wildlife in the writer's backyard (in Columbia, SC), so much as it was a travelogue and examination of people living with different kinds of wildlife - most notably monkeys - in several parts of the world. Black bears in Massachusetts, monkeys in Florida and India, tamarins in Brazil, bees in Brooklyn, and rats and squirrels in attics and walls in the US. Interesting but a bit disjointed.

    24. I recommend My Backyard Jungle for anyone wishing to live in balance with urban wildlife. Part memoir, part research journalism, James Barilla puts his ideals to the test when he transforms his backyard into a wildlife habit. He supplements his quest with journeys to communities around the world dealing with bear, monkey, and bee populations. Intriguing read.See my full review at greenrenaissancewoman.weeb under The Green Review (blog)

    25. The author gets his yard certified for wildlife by the National Wildlife Federation to increase the local diversity and then struggles with the boundary between humans and wildlife. He goes to other cities in the US, Brazil, and India to see how the deal with local wildlife. He struggles with what to do about a garden and can a rat live in the walls of their house (No!)and other issues. I did not know there are monkeys that live in the wild in Florida.

    26. Although this book didn't center around the author's yard nearly as much as I expected it to, looking at the issue of what it means when humans and wildlife live in close proximity to one another through the lens of many different types of animals and many different countries and cultures was worthwhile. Rather than reading about a habitat that I, a reader from northeastern US, am familiar with, I was transported to bear country, India, and Brazil.

    27. There are some great stories here about how animals find their niches in human settlements around the world, and I especially enjoyed the chapter about the bears of Northampton, Massachusetts. But there's nothing like an MFA in writing to ruin a good writer. Barilla gets some good interviews when he can be bothered to look outside his own navel, but this book spends way too much time in his head and not enough looking at the world around him.

    28. While there's lost of interesting information within the book, it's not what I expected. I thought I would be reading about a man turning his backyard into a certified wildlife habitat, but I got a book that chronicled his travels around the world as he sought insight into how people and animals co-exist in other places. In the end, there was almost nothing about his own backyard efforts.

    29. The writer takes one chapter to write about his yard, spends one chapter with a professional urban/suburban wildlife trapper and several chapters going to exotic locations looking at monkeys for the most part. If he had talked more about his experience in his yard and surroundings, it would have been more interesting to me.

    30. I likely would have rated this book higher had it not included the chapter about the "wildlife removal" business. While I get that the overall point of the book is exploring how wildlife and humans co-exist and this is certainly an angle of that, I didn't need to know just how gruesome the process can become.

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