Turn Your Backyard into a Private Wildlife Sanctuary

By MNR News posted 07-01-2021 08:05

  

illustration of 2 birds in a treeThe pandemic has proven the value of a yard. Outdoor projects are on the rise, and greenhouses are seeing record profits. A healthy wildlife population ensures healthier plants and a better balance in nature. Spending time in nature is a way to relax, clear your mind, de-stress, and meditate. The sounds of nature bring harmony, balance, and calm to our lives.

No matter the size of your yard, you can easily attract birds and pollinators. Here are some tips:

Bees

photo of a honey bee on lavenderBees are one of the world’s most important pollinators – and with their numbers in decline, many people are trying to attract them to their flower beds. Here are some easy to maintain plants that attract these necessary insects:

  • Clover
  • Bee balm
  • Coneflower
  • Zinnia
  • Sage
  • Mint
  • Poppy
  • Catmint
  • Hollyhocks

Additionally, installing bee baths help keep these workers hydrated. Here’s a resource for creating your own DIY bee bath https://gardentherapy.ca/bee-bath/.

 

Butterflies

photo of a monarch butterfly in a gardenAnother important pollinator whose population numbers need help, butterflies add beauty to your backyard. Planting a diverse mixture of flowers will encourage different types of butterflies. Plant an array of flowers of different sizes and colors, and provide some wind blockage, such as shrubs and trees. Some good examples of flowers that will attract butterflies:

  • Goldenrod
  • Marigold
  • Sunflower
  • Lavender
  • Sedum
  • Pansy
  • Snapdragon
  • Milkweed


 

photo of a ruby throated hummingbird on a perchHummingbirds

Who doesn’t love these fast, little birds? Their constant movement requires a lot of energy. Install a hummingbird feeder in an area with bright colors to make the feeder appear as a flower. Avoid store-bought nectar – DYI! 4 cups of water to 1 cup of granulated sugar, stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. DO NOT ADD ANY COLORING – dyes are not good for wildlife!

 

Other Birds

Installing bird feeders, nesting boxes, and bird baths is a way to attract a wide array of song birds. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Install nesting boxes in a shady area next to foliage. This will keep the feathered family cool when the weather is hot, and foliage will provide protection from predators. Also, try to keep the nests away from high-traffic areas, such as sidewalks, paths, and driveways.
  • Place birdbaths in shady areas – installing them in direct sunlight will make the water too hot. Additionally, keep the water clean.
  • Bird feeders – depending on who you want visiting your yard, you’ll want to get the appropriate feeder. Smaller songbirds, such as finches, chickadees, cardinals, and sparrows prefer feeders they can perch on. Woodpeckers prefer feeders they can hang from. The type of seed you use will also attract various birds – finches prefer thistle and millet, cardinals love sunflower seeds, blue jays love peanuts.

 

photo of bohemian waxwings in a bird bathAdditional Dos and Don’ts

  • DO: Try to keep species separated. Many songbirds are territorial and will fight with other species.
  • DO: KEEP EVERYTHING CLEAN! Sanitizing bird feeders prevents the spread of diseases and viruses, such as pox and conjunctivitis. Sanitize bird feeders with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts hot water. Be sure to rinse thoroughly. Keep birdbaths, nesting boxes, and other perching areas clean.
  • DON’T: Feed table scraps, processed food, or any other “human food” to wildlife. Their biology is not equipped to handle most of these things. Example – don’t feed bread to ducks and geese. This only harms them.

 

For further reading, visit https://porch.com/advice/backyard-wildlife-sanctuary

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