Attracting Wildlife to Your Property
One of the joys of owning real property is being able to view wildlife right in your own backyard. Rural properties generally attract more wildlife in terms of both abundance and variety, but city-dwellers and suburbanites can also easily enjoy this rewarding pastime. The key to attracting wildlife to your property, no matter where you live, is creating as many diverse components of habitat as you can.
Habitat is the physical environment that will support the life of a plant or animal. Willdlife habitat is no different from human habitat - we all require the same basic things to survive. There are some components of habitat that you can control to influence what sort of animals use or live in your yard. All animals need water, food, and places to take cover and rear their young. By thoughtfully planning your backyard wildlife habitat, you can enjoy years of wildlife watching even if your yard space is relatively small.
The simplest way to begin planning your wildlife viewing area is to figure out which plants are desirable to wildlife in your region. Select species for planting, with the idea that a variety of plants will attract a variety of wildlife. Flowers provide nectar for hummingbirds and butterflies. Fruit and nut trees provide sustenance for a variety of creatures. Many birds feed on insects; to attract them, create habitat desirable for insects. You can do this by using mulch, composting, and leaving some dead vegetation (such as fallen leaves) on the ground. Agricultural extension offices, universities and community colleges, and local nurseries are great resources to help you figure out what animals are in your area and which plants they desire.
Remember that plants provide much more than food, so try to include shrubs or trees that provide cover and nesting habitat. Even a potted shrub on a concrete patio can provide enough cover to entice certain animals. Evergreens are a great choice for shrubs or trees, because they provide cover year-round. Grasses and small shrubs can provide cover, nesting habitat, and food for birds, amphibians, and small mammals.
Water is also very important, which you can furnish by installing birdbaths or small ponds. Water is especially crucial in the winter. To keep water from freezing, leave a piece of wood in it. If it still freezes, you may need to add additional water or thaw it to keep the animals coming. Place water sources in the open with protective cover close by, so that the wildlife can spot approaching predators and escape if necessary.
When planning your backyard wildlife habitat, place food and water features so they can be seen from windows, decks, and patios. These are the places wildlife congregate and are most visible. Make sure you provide protective cover nearby, however. Predators abound, from bobcats and red-tailed hawks in the high-desert mesas of the Southwest to wolves and mountain lions in the American and Canadian Rockies to black bears and coyotes throughout the United States. Even if you live in the most urban of environments, wildlife killers still lurk. The common housecat is responsible for a surprisingly high percentage of overall wildlife deaths.
Creating your own backyard wildlife habitat and viewing areas can be rewarding in more ways than one. In an era of increasing fragmentation and destruction of wildlife habitat, providing a place for animals to eat, drink, rest, and reproduce is invaluable in itself. A little research and planning can go a long way toward ensuring that you and your guests are able to enjoy the serene experience that is wildlife watching. According to the National Wildlife Federation, you will most likely increase your property value, as well.
Article: Conservation and Ecology, Real Estate
Added: Mon Feb 25 2008
Last Modified: Sat Jul 05 2008