Friday, April 13, 2012

Backyard Woods - Attract Wildlife - Food needs

Food—the backyard woods buffet
Food attracts wildlife, and your backyard woods buffet is open around the clock. A variety of native trees, shrubs, and herbs will satisfy even the most finicky eaters. Providing a smorgasbord is the surest way to draw the wildlife you desire. Now is the time to revisit the map and records of your woods, and become familiar with the wildlife foods found there.
Deer, rabbits, and mice are drawn to openings where they can find leafy trees and shrubs, as well as grasses and forbs. Small treeless openings that provide breaks in the tree canopy are popular with wildlife. Whether openings are created through chance by a windstorm or deliberately by your removing trees for firewood or lumber, openings add variety to your backyard woods.

If soil and light conditions are right you can plant trees or shrubs, particularly ones that flower and bear fruit. If possible select plants that bloom and fruit at different times to assure a well-stocked buffet that is always ready for guests. Choose native species—those that occur naturally in your area. They are best suited to local conditions and often fare better than nonnatives. Flowers offer nectar and pollen, and will attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. Berries and other fruits may bring birds and bears. Dozens of wildlife species are known to feed on nuts such as acorns.

Sometimes your efforts to entice may prove a little too successful, and wildlife may begin sampling your favorite vegetable garden or prized ornamentals. It is up to you whether to take action to deter wildlife or simply accept their unscheduled visits as one of the benefits of your backyard woods.
Of course not all wildlife are vegetarians; some are predators—animals that feed on other animals. Coyotes, foxes, weasels, hawks, and snakes are among the predators that may be looking to dine in your woods. The larger predators are typically few in number and wary by nature. If you glimpse one in your woods you are lucky indeed.
You may unknowingly introduce an unwanted predator into your backyard woods. Some statistics identify house cats as major predators of migratory birds. A free-roaming cat can prey on birds and baby mammals. Keeping cats indoors protects your wildlife.

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