You have carefully planned your backyard habitat and all of the basic
elements are in place. There is, however, one thing missing, and that is the
wildlife. Have you made your habitat wildlife friendly? How you present the
basic elements to your guests will greatly increase your chance for success.
Try and look at the whole plan from a wild critter’s point of view.
Start with your lawn, a very large part of the habitat. Is it neatly
manicured and cut to the quick, or soft and green with clover and a few
dandelions mixed in? If your answer is soft and green, then you are on your
way to attracting rabbits, white- footed mice, and short tailed shrews.
The next, large, areas you should look at, are your flowerbeds and
borders, and underneath your shrubs. Do you use marble chips, lava rock, or
any other type of inorganic mulch in these areas? Insect eating birds depend
a great deal on large areas of leaf litter or decomposing bark mulch, rich
with insects and their larva. Wrens and Song Sparrows especially enjoy this
area. Any type of organic mulch is very good for your plants and helps to
enrich the soil.
Bathing birds are a treat to watch on a hot summer day. Have you noticed
any at your birdbath lately? If the birds aren’t bathing, check the location
of the birdbath. Birds like to have an elevated area close by they can get
to quickly. Clean, fresh water is also a must. Be careful not to overfill
the bath. Placing a rock in the middle of the birdbath will encourage
smaller birds to bathe.
Hummingbirds are beautiful and interesting to watch. If you are
unsuccessful at attracting them to sugar water feeders it could be because
they are not sparkling clean. Hummers will not feed from a feeder if the
nectar is moldy. Clean your feeders, and, refill with fresh nectar every
three days. It is also a good idea to have more than one feeder. These
little birds are very territorial and often will not let another bird feed
from “their” feeder.
If you don’t have a variety of birds visiting your feeders, it is time to
do some research. Find out what birds are common in your area. Once you know
which birds will likely visit your feeders, the rest is easy. Provide them
with the type of feeders they prefer along with their favorite seeds.
Consider also, specialty feeders for suet and other treats. Squirrels will
be attracted to bird feeders. I personally, find the antics of squirrels
very entertaining. It is a good idea to set aside a feeding area
specifically for these mischievous little mammals.
Did you know, that butterflies are attracted to the color, of flowers, as
well as the nectar they seek? Next time you visit your local garden-center
choose nectar rich flowers. Often the modern hybrids are beautiful, but have
little or no nectar. If they have a wonderful scent chances are they are
rich in nectar. Bees and other nectar loving insects will also appreciate
your effort to provide nectar rich flowers in your habitat. Consider bloom
time when you are making your selections. Plan to have several varieties
blooming throughout the growing season.
Next time you are outside in your yard picking up sticks after a storm,
start yourself a small brush pile. Small mammals and a variety of birds
enjoy the features this element provides, including cover and a good place
for them to find insects.
These suggestions and intended to help you assess your own backyard
habitat, and are by no means instructions for making your habitat wildlife
friendly. Every habitat is unique to its owner, and what works for one may
not work for the next. Do not get discouraged. If you build it, they will