Monday, June 28, 2010

posted by Dr. James G. Hood
Monday, June 28, 2010

Wildlife is a love of ours.  Because of that love and our concern over the continuing loss of habitat, we have worked to make our acreage attractive to all kinds of wild creatures. We learned of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary Program that encourages people to help offset some of this habitat loss, and applied to have our property certified by their program. We encourage you to visit to learn more about how you, too, can have your backyard certified as a wildlife sanctuary.

We are pleased to announce that we have just received that certification for our yard and for our farm!

What we do, or don’t do, in the area surrounding our homes has an effect on the quality of habitat for many species. The Department of Fish and Wildlife helps us understand and appreciate the wild life around our homes. We all can make our property a better place for songbirds and other wild species that live in our respective areas.

In the meantime, here are some tips from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife that will help you attract wild creatures:

1. Plant more trees and shrubs. Remember, vegetation is the key to attracting a variety of wild creatures. Dead trees (snags) are especially valuable to wild species; try to keep them on your property if they pose no safety hazard.

2. Add a birdbath, garden pond, or other source of water. A safe place to bathe and drink will act as a magnet to many animals.

3. Add bird houses, or better yet, try to leave snags on your property. Cavity-nesting birds have been especially impacted by urban development. A bird house of the proper dimensions can substitute for snags where these birds used to nest.

4. Cover any openings under the eaves or other places around your house where house sparrows and starlings may nest. These non-native birds are undesirable competitors for food and nesting cavities and many native birds have suffered because of their presence. Bird houses and feeders should be designed and managed to reduce use by sparrows and starlings.

5. Control cats that may be prowling around your sanctuary; they can be especially harmful to birds that feed or nest on the ground. Visit the American Bird Conservancy Website for information on their “Cats Indoors!” program for ideas on how to keep your cats indoors.

6. Get your neighbors interested in backyard wildlife. Several adjacent yards with good wildlife resources are even more effective. Most wild species need areas larger than a single lot can provide. Remember, every homeowner is a habitat manager, and the collective actions of conscientious homeowners will benefit the wild animals that share your living space.

7. Keep bird feeders clean and safe, if you choose to feed for your own viewing pleasure.

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