Reconnecting with Nature in the Nectar Garden Visitor Center Vignettes: Coyote Hills Regional Park


A unique feature of Coyote Hills Regional Park is the Nectar Garden, where visitors can reconnect to the outdoors.

The garden provides a haven for butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, and other wildlife. It provides everything these animals need: native plant habitat, water, places to hide, and an area to raise young. The garden recreates natural wildlife habitat and is a place for the entire life cycle of a species to occur, from chick to fledgling, or from larva to imago (adult stage).

Nearly 100 species of butterflies were once found in the Bay Area. Today, there are fewer than 12. Habitat loss, pesticide use, climate change and heavy grazing have all played a role in their decline. Biologists suggest people start urban gardens as restoration projects, creating wildlife corridors and providing opportunities for interaction with wildlife.

One frequent visitor to the garden is the monarch butterfly. Each fall, western monarchs begin an incredible migration from Canada to parts of California in order to overwinter. By February, they seek out mates and locate milkweed to lay their eggs. At the garden, visitors may see all the stages of monarch metamorphosis: egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly. Blooming nectar plants provide the needed nourishment for the adult butterflies.

The Nectar Garden also hosts migrating birds that journey thousands of miles hunting for food sources and searching for places to raise their young. Photographers delight in searching out these elusive winged creatures in early morning. The pesticide-free Nectar Garden is normally open year-round from Wednesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please check before you visit for current conditions.

Today, wildlife diversity has been diminished. Through conservation and restoration of natural habitats, we can all contribute to bringing back the wide variety of birds and butterflies once found in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Jennifer Vanya, Public Information Specialist