Like birds, butterflies, and other
wildlife to visit your garden? Provide the basics of food, water, cover, and nesting
places and theyll flock to your place. Document your progress and certify your
backyard as a National Wildlife Federation Backyard Wildlife Habitat. For an application
form, contact the NWF at 8925 Leesburg Pike, Vienna VA 22184-0001.
Heres how to provide the basics for attracting wildlife.
FOOD:Acorns, nuts, berries, seeds, nectar, and pollen form the
wildlife buffet ideal for a backyard habitat. Plants and feeders combine to provide a
healthy diet for birds and other wildlife. Start with one good seed tube feeder. Choose
one thats durable, preferably acrylic. Fill your feeder with mostly black oil
sunflower seed. A mix of seed is fine so long as it doesnt contain grain seeds like
milo or millet, and is primarily black oil sunflower.
Take a look at the roadsides and woods to decide what to plant to
attract wildlife to your garden. Native berried shrubs usually have few pest problems and
are a natural for feeding the wildlife in your area. Privets and ligustrum, oaks and
hollies are widely available for ideal food sources, as are roses and their relatives, the
pyracantha. Turn to perennials to entice nectar feeders; be sure to include members of the
WATER: A shallow saucer of water is ample. You can use a
flowerpot saucer, a pie pan, or anything that holds water and is no more than 1-3 inches
deep. Birdbaths, drips, and misters are great, but whatever you use, keep it and the water
clean. If you can add a water feature to the garden, especially one with moving water, so
much the better.
COVER: Provide plants to shade the animals and cool them, and
give them hiding places, like drooping berried shrubs, old logs, even a thicket of dead
shrubs from renovations elsewhere in the garden.
NESTING PLACES: Bird houses, nesting shelves, host plants for
caterpillars, bat houses, and defense plantings of dense shrubs complete your habitat.
Give wildlife a place to nest and enjoy the natural world up close.