Gardening for watchable wildlife

Your yard can become a certified habitat if it provides the essential ingredients for wildlife to survive:  food, water, cover and a place to raise their young.

wildlife-habitat-blogThe year robins built a nest in my backyard and raised four baby birds was the year I applied to the National Wildlife Federation to certify my backyard as a wildlife habitat.

Even though I had created a backyard habitat with food sources, water and plenty of cover, I didn’t feel it was a success until I saw those baby birds in their nest.

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is a terrific organization that works around the clock to protect America’s wildlife and their wild habitats. Most of its work focuses on polar bears, gray wolves, bald eagles, Canada lynx and other animals in the wild.

Backyard habitats are just as important to the NWF and information for creating one is available on its website:

The organization offers tip sheets to help individuals build wildlife-friendly yards to provide food sources, like plants that produce berries, seeds, nuts, fruit, nectar or pollen, in addition to supplemental feeders.

Water sources can be a birdbath, pond, stream or a puddling area for butterflies.

Examples of shelter include a brush pile or dense shrubs. Nesting boxes, host plants, mature trees or a water garden provide places for wildlife to safely raise their young.

Sustainable landscaping practices also help wildlife. I’ve written about many of these practices¬† on this blog, like reducing turf areas, xeriscaping, using mulch, practicing integrated pest management and organic gardening.

One of the benefits of having a certified wildlife habitat is the sign I placed in the front yard to let the neighborhood know that all my gardening efforts have paid off. The wildlife in my suburban backyard includes an occasional raccoon and lots of squirrels, birds, butterflies, bees and many kinds of insects.

One day while I was weeding in the front yard,¬† a young boy stopped to read the sign. He read it and then stood there for a few minutes before asking, “Do you have cages in the back for the wild animals?”


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