Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Let's Go Wild!

We've always encouraged wildlife in our backyard.
There is nothing quite as satisfying 
as knowing that you are helping Mother Nature's creatures
by simple creating an inviting habitat.
With an email handle like 
you know I'm gonna do my part!

A few years ago, we became an official Monarch Waystation
by fostering monarchs with necessary resources in our Florida backyard.
You can read about that here: 
Monarch Waystation Certification

One of the goals on this new property
is to go beyond nurturing only butterflies.
We are actively working toward becoming a Certified Wildlife Habitat.
By following certain guidelines, we can become an official habitat, sponsored by
The National Wildlife Federation.
You can even download a checklist 
to ensure that you have the necessary conditions needed.
Here's their website.

For caterpillars and butterflies,
both host and nectar plants are needed.
The monarch caterpillar, for example,
spends its whole life on the milkweed plant.
When it has grown to its full size,
it wanders nearby to form a chrysallis
and the transformation is complete.

 Wooded areas provide cover protection from predators
and plenty of sites for nesting and hiding.

 Our Christmas tree becomes a part of the landscape
and enables all kinds of woodland creatures to use it as they see fit.
Dragonflies, lizards, toads and many bird species
take up residence in dead branches and leaf cover.
Many butterfly and moth species overwinter in leaf piles,
so it is vital to leave some of your fall leaves in place each season.

 Mature trees are integral for viewing surroundings
and birds use these perches to find food or avoid being another critter's meal!

baby wrens spring 2018

Of course, nesting spots are one of the most common
reasons to provide mature trees to wildlife.
Maintaining safe areas where species can raise their young
will keep the cycle of life moving forward.

 Providing building material encourages birds and other nest dwellers
to make their homes nearby.
Some of the items we can offer are animal hair, cloth strips (natural fibers), 
dried leaves, moss, pine straw, string, thread and twigs.

Even our open mulch piles have been known to be visited
several times a day by birds, squirrels and bugs.

 Of course, water is a fundamental element needed by wildlife.
Furnishing a birdbath or another source of water keeps critters hydrated and healthy.
Adding a stone for butterflies and pollinators is another consideration.
We have been fascinated by the wasps and bees 
that have visited our birdbath, drinking to their heart's content.

Along with native plants that may contain berries, nuts and seeds,
supplemental food is appreciated.
We will be working toward installing more natives  over the next few years.
We do have a couple of bird feeders available to our feathered friends.
This one is suspended above our back steps,
so as to dissuade any curious squirrels.
So far, they haven't figured out how to get into it,
and the height has most likely discouraged a host of others.

We also offer winter feeding using
homemade suet and feeders.
You can click on those links to read all about how we made our own.
We are in a mild climate, so many birds stick around all winter.
It's such a treat to see them enjoying the season with us.

 In the warmer months, we provide food for the hummingbirds,
making our own nectar. 
Here's the recipe.

Sharing our yards with critters
is really an easy thing to do.
After all,
this world is meant to be shared.

"In every walk with nature,
one receives far more 
than he seeks."
~John Muir

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