One of the privileges of living in the country is being closer and more connected with the natural environment. But over time natural areas have been lost to more profitable land uses. You can manage the land in a way that encourages and promotes wildlife habitat. Working with neighbors and understanding what is happening on other properties will help make your wildlife habitat a success.
Wildlife needs three basic elements for a supportive habitat.
- Food: Animals will venture to your property if there are available food sources. Nuts, seeds, fruits, and commercially purchased bird seed are food types that will help attract wildlife to your property.
- Water: Drinking water sources are essential for wildlife. Clean flowing water, bird baths, and garden ponds are features that will help draw wildlife to your property.
- Shelter: Wildlife needs cover and protection both on your property and when traveling between properties. Bird/bat/bee boxes, hedge-rows, shrubs and trees can provide wildlife with a place to rest, and hide from predators and a covered path for travel.
Planting a diversity of native vegetation at varying heights will help attract wildlife to your property. Developing and maintaining appropriate vegetation at the three different vertical areas (canopy, under-story, and floor) of the natural environment will help provide a variety of habitats on your land. “Avoid plants with a high potential for escaping cultivation and becoming invasive in natural areas, such as butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii).
Tips for Successful Backyard Wildlife Habitats
- Planning and research are important beginning steps to creating productive back-yard wildlife habitat.
- Choose Native Plants. Using native plants in your landscape supports and enhances local habitat for wildlife, birds and pollinators.
- Reduce the use of chemical when possible and refrain from unnecessary spraying on natural areas.
- Use water efficiently and maintain natural water features, along with the vegetation that surrounds those features.
Snags and Dead Trees
Snags and dead trees are important elements to have and leave on your property for wildlife. They provide habitats to roughly 80 different species; reptiles, birds, mammals and amphibians call these features home for at least part of their lives. If you do not have any snags or dead trees on your property, you can girdle unneeded or weedy trees to create snags. Piling woody debris near the forest edge can provide wildlife with places to hide. In dry areas, fire risk must be taken into consideration.
Pollinators are important to our environment and facilitate the reproduction of at least 80 percent of the world’s flowering plants. In addition, they help produce a healthy affordable food supply; yet many of us eradicate their habitats by using pesticides and and by removing vegetation.
Hummingbirds, bats, small mammals, beetles, bees, ants, wasps, butterflies, and moths are all pollinators. Providing nectar bearing flowers and blossoming bushes as sources of nectar and pollen year-around will help increase your pollinator population. Farmers can increase pollinators on their farm by diversifying crops and planting pollinator plots, field borders, or hedgerows.