Thursday, May 22, 2008


Animals need a place to hide from potential dangers and to provide shelter from the elements. You can provide this in many ways.
Place bird feeders a short distance from bushes or trees. This makes it easy for the birds to escape to safety if they sense danger. Make sure you not providing a great hiding place for the neighborhood cat in your placement, If you have overzealous squirrels you can place the feeders far enough away so the squirrels can’t leap and eat all your food.
Create a brush pile on your property. They will be used by small mammals for protection. There are many example of how to construct them and we will discuss them more in the future.
Dead wood is a good thing. Standing dead wood known as snags provide food in the form of insects and nesting holes for birds. If you have a snag located in a safe place leave it standing and let nature take its course. Of course if your snag is likely to fall on your or a neighbors house, a car etcetera it should be safely removed. Downed logs are also important. Salamanders and many insects will live under and within them. The ground under a log tends to hold moisture longer allowing the salamanders to stay closer to the surface and find food. Flipping logs with kids is also a great educational tool. Just make sure you flip them back to the same place they started.
Cover can also come in the form of built structures. Bird houses, bat boxes, and butterfly boxes are a few examples. I have found flying squirrels, wasps, snakes, spiders, and mice in bird houses. These structures are used year round by various wildlife and can be very important refuges during bad weather.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Water is another basic staple that all living things need. Again there are various ways one can provide wildlife with water.

Bird Bath: Most people are familiar with the concept of a bird bath. It can take many forms from a concrete, plastic or metal purchased model to a shallow dish recycled for this use. Many birds prefer their birdbath (or feeder for that matter) be placed in an area where they can quickly reach cover. A few feet from a tree of bushes will do the trick. If a shallow dish on the ground is used other animals will benefit as well. Be aware if you have raccoons they may use your bird bath to clean their food, an activity they often do. Bird baths do require some maintenance with regular cleaning. If you do not do this your will notice green algae start to form and diseases can be spread among the birds as well. Wiping the bird bath down with a cloth and water should be sufficient but if it gets particularly grimy you can use a dilute mild detergent. Just make sure you rinse the bird bath well before refilling.

Pond: If you are lucky enough to have water already on your property in the form of a pond or maybe even a stream, additional water features are not necessary. It is also possible to install a pond. Many nurseries now how pond supplies and can help you with the specifics for installation. Basically it involves digging a hole, installing a liner, adding rocks, sand, etc. In a small manmade pond it is important to also have a pump so the water does not become stagnant and filled with algae and mosquito larvae. Additional items can also be added such as plants and fish.

Puddles: While we might not think of them this way, puddles can be a source of water for wildlife as well. Take note of where the puddles form on your property. The mud around puddles can also be a great place to see animal tracks and can tell you more about the wildlife your yard attracts.