Spring Connection #5 – Habitat 101.3 – My Backyard

Your home is your habitat!

And the area outside your home, no matter how small, can also be a habitat for many types of animals! All you need to do is provide the habitat components these animals require – food, water, shelter and space.

You’ve got the space, even if the area is small. It doesn’t take much for small creatures to make a home there.

Water is easy to provide: a shallow dish refilled daily will do just fine, no need for an elaborate fountain or bird bath, unless that’s your style. Be sure to freshen the water daily, and keep leaves and other debris out of the container.

Food can be many things, depending on the types of animals you want to attract. Birds and butterflies enjoy flowers that provide nectar. Check your local nurseries for flowering bushes, perennial plants (lasting more than one year) and annual flowers for those plants attractive to birds and butterflies.

Bird and squirrel feeders are readily available, but don’t need to be fancy. Seed strewn on cement, grass or bare ground will draw ground-feeding birds like doves, as well as squirrels. Bird feeders can be everything from a simple dish placed on a tree stump, to an elaborate feeder hanging from a tree branch. Some birds prefer fruits like apples, and will help you dispose of fruits you didn’t get around to eating before they shriveled. Just slice them up and throw them outside.

Shelter can be a cute bird house or bat house or butterfly house. It can also be a simple pile of twigs, a stump or log, a grass pile, a bush, or a berm. The only qualification is that the area needs to be away from a frequently used door, so that your coming and going doesn’t disturb the animal’s activities.

So there you have it. Your habitat can be nature’s habitat as well, without a lot of cost or expense.

One more thought. A well-manicured lawn is not the best habitat to draw nature. Much better to allow native plants to have their way, to leave a few areas with exposed dirt or sand and gravel. If you have trees or bushes, try to plant those that will provide food for wildlife in the form of nuts or berries or even fruit (provided you leave some hanging on the tree).  Such a yard doesn’t have to look sloppy or uncared for.

Spring is here – and you can make this year a great one for observing and enjoying the creatures you share the world with.

For more information on backyard habitat, check www.audubon.org, or www.nwf.org and check your library for resources!

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