Do you want to bring the local wildlife into your backyard? There are many things you can do and grow to attract the various wildlife that may be lurking on the edges of your yard.
(1) Plant Basics
Some wildlife have specific dietary needs while others have a varied diet. Having a variety of different plants makes sense if you want to attract attention to your backyard.
Dead logs provide places for insects. Insects provide food for some birds. Thus, leaving a dead tree alone is important in bringing attention to your yard unless the tree is dangerous.
Plant plenty of high trees and lower bushes and shrubs for birds to nest in. These could attract more wildlife if they are fruit trees or any other flowering trees. Placement of the trees could be important. If the plant is too close to a building or other such structure the wildlife may be too wary to come close.
(2) Apple Trees
Deer and rabbits are general considered pests. They eat green things and every green thing in sight it seems. But some people enjoy the rabbits and deer making a habitat in their backyards.
Apple trees (and other fruit trees such as pear, peach and plum) really attract deer. The apples usually fall right before the cold weather starts to set in and the deer can get an easy quick meal with apples.
In addition, butterflies and other insects such as bees like the overripe rotting apples that have fallen on the ground. Emerging butterflies flutter around the blossoms in late spring along with the bees doing their buzzing dance along the blossoms.
(3) HoneySuckle and Other Tubular Flowers
Honeysuckle is a tubular flower that can grow rampantly is not checked and pruned back frequently. The berries of the honeysuckle are toxic so avoid contact. But the berries provide food for certain birds and the flowers attract hummingbirds.
Bees and hummingbirds also provide a way for other flowers to pollinate including many vegetable plants. Having the bees and hummingbirds around gives a good chance for your vegetable garden as well as a visual attraction.
Color is important to most wildlife. Some prefer any color while others prefer bright colors. Some birds are frightened away by brighter colors. Brighter colors can sometimes indicate a warning in nature. Be watchful for which creatures like which colors the best.
(4) Zinnias, Marigolds and MilkWeeds
Zinnias, marigolds and milkweeds bring in butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects such as ladybugs. Milkweeds harbor the monarch butterfly caterpillars and that is why monarch butterflies as adults are toxic to some birds. Some butterflies are specific to a particular plant while others don’t mind which flowers they feed upon.
Some plants attract insects that other animals, especially birds, feed upon. Some birds feed upon butterflies and plants that attract butterflies give these birds their source of food. Lavender and lilac attract butterflies.
Butterflies are part of the bluebird’s and warbler’s diet. Bluebirds and some warblers are very wary around a bird feeder and planting some flowers that attract butterflies is a good way to get those birds to come around more often.
(5) Nesting Bag
Make a nesting bag to encourage them to visit during the nesting season. A nesting bag is filled with items that a bird might use to make a nest. A lot of birds like using strong, yarn and other such household items in their nests. An old pair of pantyhose or a leftover orange bag (the kind that is like netting) and fill it with the string and other material. Hang it up where the birds might be attracted to it. This should be far enough from the house especially for birds that may be wary near human or human activity.
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(6) Watering Holes
Most wildlife will need a source of drinking water. For birds, this is simply done in the form of bird baths. You could also provide water for birds with a tub, small plastic swimming pool or you could make a small pond for birds and other creatures.
Butterflies and other insects also need water. Set out small plates of water. You could take pot bases and fill up sponges with water. Make sure you water the sponges everyday. If you want to add a bit of sugar to the water, that may help to attract the butterflies and other insects but it may encourage mold so be prepared to throw away the sponge if any mold grows on it.
Shelter is important for many wildlife. You can attract birds by building some basic bird houses for your yard. Birds like simple bird houses with earth colors, not typical of those commercial bird houses.
Build a simple wooden box and place a roof on it. You can build the roof with a hinge so that you can make sure the box is cleaned every year. This will encourage the birds to continue to nest in the box.
The size of the box can determine which birds will nest in the box. The height of where the box is placed will also be a determining factor in the type of birds it may attract. You might want to do some research on typical birds of your area. Call local wildlife shelters, agencies or your local agriculture department for this information. They may be able to provide you with diagrams or instructions for typical bird houses of your region.
If you have a garden or enough space, you can grow your own bird houses with gourds. There are specific gourds called birdhouse gourds that are grown for this purpose. Gourds are a long season warm loving plant. They need plenty of water and area to grow. They are typically vining plants and love to climb on things. If you have limited space, you might try using a trellis or building a fence with heavy netting to try them in a vertical growing space.
Once the gourds are grown, they will need time to dry out. Drill a hole in the side of the gourd, scoop out the insides and let it dry naturally outside in a dry area. If you have a short growing season, you can let the gourd dry inside. Just find a dry place in the house to hang the gourd until it dries. Once it dries you can use a varnish to protect it from rot. The gourd will be ready to go in the next nesting season.
(8) Other WildLife Shelter
Toads aren’t quite like their frog cousins. They need moisture but the not the complete immersion into the water. They thrive in moist humid climates and gardens. Toads and frogs eat many insects that can be harmful to your yard. Attract these amphibians by building a toad house.
Take an old clay pot and use a hammer to break off one part of the rim. This will be the door of the toad house. Turn the pot rim side down anywhere in your garden preferably somewhere that is hidden away that won’t be disturbed. Make sure the clay pot stays moist so the toads will stay around.
(9) Keep the Attraction
Be observant of any changes that occur in the wildlife. Some birds may come in and stay while others are only temporarily in your yard. Be ready to try new plants to help attract wildlife to the yard. Call your local wildlife agency or agriculture department to see what sort of plants might help attract local wildlife. Enjoy wildlife at its best, in your backyard.
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