Happy Holidays. Enjoy your yard every day, like I do, especially when these Bluebirds of happiness visited my heated birdbath. Here's a musical video of my yard called Build It and They Will Come.
You've probably read in the news about the rapid loss of species in the news. We can make a difference in our yards. A University of Delaware and Smithsonian study tied the choices homeowners makes about landscaping their yards to the breeding success of an eastern bird, the Carolina Chickadee. Four hundred thirty two species of U.S. birds eat insects. Most insects rely on one native plant to survive; for instance, the Monarch needs Milkweed. If your yard contains more than 70% of native plants and has a variety of species, Chickadees have a chance to reproduce and sustain their local population. I have 90 species of native plants in my postage-stamp sized yard. Learn more.
When I have to move, my wish is that whoever takes over my property understands the value of and takes care of my native plants. There's hope that this can happen - An owner had success with his yard. The new owner bought the home in winter, while the land was covered by snow, and didn't know that he had inherited native prairie plants. The original owners visited him with a welcome basket of muffins and explained the importance of native plants. Now he is hooked on gardening for wildlife. Read more.
Good news: An entire county became a Certified Community Habitat by having 400 residents certify their properties. They are encouraging other counties to get certified to build a corridor for wildlife. Be inspired.
- If you buy a Christmas tree, buy a Wildlife-Friendly Christmas Tree by following these important tips - Don't dispose of Christmas trees in parks; don't burn them in your fireplace because sap can be a fire hazard - Consider feeding birds in winter. A 3-year study in Wisconsin concluded that when temperatures fall below 10 degrees, Black-capped Chickadees without access to feeders have a 37% survival rate as opposed to a 69% survival rate for those able to use feeders - Cornell Lab of Ornithology recommends putting up bird roosting boxes for winter cover
- Deer bother some readers by eating their plants in winter, so try putting a barrier around the plants you want to protect by laying chicken wire flat (not standing up) because deer don't like to get their hooves caught in it. If you want to try multiple methods, look for harmless ways on the Internet, and be sure that natural sprays or other home solutions are water resistant - Tips for Oak Wilt - See page 7 - In icy conditions, use ice melters or sand because rock salt is toxic to plants, animals and waterways. Animals may accidentally ingest it or step on its jagged granules. It increases saline and reduces oxygen levels in local water
- Some Robins stay through winter and have natural berries to eat, but you can help them by putting out a frost-free bird bath
- Avoid putting out food scraps for wildlife. Feeding wildlife human food can be unhealthy for the animal. It also teaches wildlife to associate people with food and lose their natural fear of us. Then, when the animal approaches people looking for food, the animal scares the unsuspecting person and is often euthanized
- In winter, it's easier to see beautiful birds because many trees lose their leaves. Contact your state's Department of Natural Resources for information, buy a field guide or, in Ohio, call 1-800-WILDLIFE to receive a free copy of these ID Guides
- Buy locally harvested firewood (around 10 miles away) rather than from more distant sources because tree-killing insects and diseases are spread by moving wood
- The next time you are using your oven, add a dish of eggshells you have saved to help birds with digestion and provide extra calcium. Bake the shells at 250 degrees for 20 minutes, then grind them into small bits and put in bird food
- The egg case of non-native, invasive European and Chinese Mantises is large (ping pong ball size or larger) and oval or round in shape. The native, beneficial Carolina Mantis egg case is smaller, flat and fairly rectangular in shape. Keep the egg cases outdoors, or the Mantises will hatch in your house and starve
- Please throw plastic, trash and other debris into your trash to keep them out of your street gutter. The street gutter leads into the storm drain, which then goes into our streams and rivers, polluting our drinking water. Keep leaves out of your street gutter because so many additional leaves in our waterways causes a loss of oxygen and too much nitrogen, which is harmful to wildlife - Help scientists by counting birds in your own yard and reporting them to Cornell Lab's Project FeederWatch