Friday, April 27, 2012

Backyard Woods - Attracting Wildlife - Shelter needs

Shelter—the creature comforts
Shelter is critical to wildlife. It offers protection from the elements, safety from predators, a place to raise young, or simply a resting place. Fortunately, wildlife requires minimal accommodations, such as a leaf, fallen log, or hole in the ground.
The clean look you may enjoy in your lawn is not well suited to your backyard woods and the wildlife found there. Piles of brush or rocks are wonderful hiding spots for squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, snakes, and other small animals. Next time you are cutting brush or pruning trees, consider piling the cut branches in your woods. Be careful not to overdo the cutting; however, wildlife need plenty of living shrubs and other vegetation. Caution: Brush piles should be created only outside the fire safety zone around structures. The zone should be at least 30 feet wide on level or gently sloping ground and 100 feet or more on slope grades 30 percent or greater down hill from any structure.

Planting shade-tolerant (able to survive in partial shade) needleleaf trees within an otherwise broadleaf woods will increase its appeal to wildlife. Needleleaf trees, especially those in dense clumps with branches near the ground, give all-season protection.
Vibrant, healthy trees are the dominant feature in most woods and are certainly important to wildlife. Dead and dying trees—whether standing, leaning, or fallen—also play a vital role. Trees weakened by age, disease, or injuries attract insects, which in turn attract insect-eating animals. Through decay and the work of woodpeckers and other wildlife excavators, cavities eventually appear in many dead and dying trees. You want an abundant supply of cavities in your backyard woods. Scores of birds and mammals from wrens to raccoons take shelter in such cavities. Birdhouses and other types of nest boxes are another popular and effective way to add cavities. You can buy or build a variety of sizes and shapes aimed at accommodating various species; however, don’t be discouraged if nest boxes attract unintended occupants!

Once dead and dying trees fall, other wildlife, such as rabbits, toads, and worms take advantage of their shelter. You and the wildlife don’t have to wait for trees to die. Girdling—removing bark from a 3-to 5-inch ring completely around the tree—will hasten its demise. Start slow and monitor the results before girdling too many trees in your woods. Seek the advice of an arborist or consulting forester before girdling a tree. Some trees are better to girdle than others.

No comments:

Post a Comment