Would you like to encourage birds, butterflies, frogs, and other fascinating creatures to your yard? It is actually pretty simple. Listed below are the four main elements for an effective habitat:
1. Food - This might be berries and fruit for birds, nuts for squirrels, and nectar for butterflies. By choosing native plants you allow nature to provide for the insects and animals. Your local nursery will be more than happy to help you choose specific plants that will attract birds, butterflies, and a variety of insects. You can also provide seed and nectar at feeders.
2. Water - If space allows, a pond is a great water source. Not only will wildlife drink from it, they will bathe in it as well. If creating a pond is not feasible, a birdbath or a few shallow dishes will do the trick. Just remember to keep them filled with fresh water, especially during hot weather. You will find some birdbath ideas on this site. http://www.laspilitas.com/garden/howto/birdbath.htm
3. Cover - By planting a variety of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs, you will give your animal friends many places to find shelter from predators and extreme weather conditions. Dead trees and logs also provide cover. Try planting foliage of varying heights for different animals’ needs
4. Places To Raise Young - By having a variety of cover plants you encourage the raising of offspring. You might want to put up a birdhouse or nesting box. Check to see which sizes your local birds prefer. Native flowers and host plants for caterpillars will encourage butterflies to lay their eggs. If you are interested in attracting frogs and dragonflies, a pond is ideal.
If you would like to have your wildlife habitat certified, just follow the steps listed on the National Wildlife Federation site. http://www.nwf.org/backyard/certify.cfm The NWF site also provides some colorful and informative tip sheets.
You don't need to be "officially certified" to provide these necessary habitat elements. All you need is a little planning and some patience. You will find that the benefits are numerous! Don’t forget our future generation. If you have children or grandchildren, allow them to share in the process. A love and respect for our world and its animals is a precious thing to instill. I find it fascinating viewing nature through the eyes of a child. May we never lose that sense of wonder!