Meet the Wild Ones – Margy Terpstra

 By Amy Redfield

Woman wearing glasses

Margy on her back porch, overlooking the trees full of birds

Margy Terpstra’s second home was bought for a song – bird song, that is. She and her husband passed right through the lovely two-story colonial to the back deck, heard the birds singing, took in the mature trees sure to lure migratory birds, and said “sold.”

Margy’s love of nature began in childhood, fed by a Native American neighbor who introduced Margy to rambling through the woods and locating pipsissewa (what kid doesn’t love learning a word like that?!). Not one to be daunted by a challenge or inclined to do things by half measures, Margy threw herself into gardening as she raised her children. When the growing black walnut tree became toxic to the vegetable garden and the squirrels made off with what tomatoes did grow, she naturally transitioned to herbs, with the resulting garden being featured in Better Homes & Gardens.

Her ability and interest in garden design led her to complete a horticulture design program. Through it all, her interest in birding – and photography – grew. Until, one day, a nice yard with a winning herb garden just wasn’t enough.  Simply put, she needed more space for birds, nature, and native plants. Someone else might have seen the steep slope at the new house and paused, or looked at the abundant honeysuckle and felt a qualm. For Margy, they were merely challenges to scale en route to her wildlife sanctuary.

Woman using net on pole to pick up leaves

Margy cleaning fall leaves from the popular bubbler

And what a sanctuary it is. Margy and her husband, Dan, have created a native oasis in the midst of suburban lawns, with just over a half acre, including a woodland area featuring vernal wetlands, mature hardwoods, a bubbler, a large pond and water garden for wildlife, and a songbird and butterfly garden in a meadow. Margy estimates the lot is about 60% native plants at this point.

The birds and wildlife have noticed, with 146 species of birds documented so far. The bubbler, installed in 2000, has attracted 110 species, and the pond, created in 2007, has brought in 73 species. Margy’s stunning photos of their feathered visitors have gained attention. The garden is becoming famous in its own right. Featured on the 2011 Missouri Botanical Garden tour, 1100 visitors came through to be inspired to create their own patches of wildlife sanctuary. And that, also, is Margy: sharing her vision of a world where birds and insects and all of nature are welcome.


To make a bubbler like Margy’s and attract your own birds, watch the video showing her and Dan helping Robert of Gateway Gardener make one.

3 thoughts on “Meet the Wild Ones – Margy Terpstra

  1. This is an EXCELLENT video! I can’t wait to make a bubbler and watch the wildlife visit it!!

  2. Thank you, Jim! Your efforts will be rewarded, for sure. Check my photo gallery for new photos of RED CROSSBILLS! A flock of 10-12 came to our bubbler on 2/20/13 at 11 am and the next morning showed up at the fountain on the deck at 8 am. I haven’t seen them since and of course, we got the snow the afternoon of 2/21/13. They count as #111 now at the bubbler, a rare vagrant here in winter. They only stayed about a minute each time and I was very lucky to see them and get some images.

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