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Make your yard a habitat for nature’s critters

Imagine enjoying the bright color of a goldfinch on a sunflower, the fragrance of a crabapple, the song of a mockingbird or the flutter of butterfly wings right from your front porch.
Attracting wildlife can be an educational and memorable experience regardless where you live. Whether your family lives in the country, a subdivision, an older historic section or even an apartment, wildlife can become a beautiful part of the landscape.
Wildlife needs food, water, shelter and space to live. When those things are available, a habitat is established. The first thing to consider is which of these factors are already available? What species would be easy to attract and what do you need to provide in addition to what is already available?

Water
A reliable water source is essential. If there is no water relatively close, no wildlife will come. There are a lot of ways to provide water for wildlife. These can run the gamut from a simple hole dug in hard ground, to a plastic container sunk in the ground, a suspended bird bath, a pedestal bird bath or a specialized pond.
The water supply doesn’t just provide drinking water but can give insects a habitat, which becomes a feeding site for birds, bats and raccoons. It is especially important to provide water during the winter as well as the other three seasons.

Plants
When adding permanent landscape, bedding plants or container gardens, choose plants that are food for wildlife to increase the chances of bringing creatures into view. Permanent shrubs can provide shelter where wildlife can give birth to young and where adult wildlife can find cover from predators. Native plants are best, and be careful not to plant an invasive species.

Location
When trying to attract wildlife, consider the placement of water, feeding and nesting areas. You will want to be able to watch the wildlife enjoy these areas, so place the areas where you can see them but will not interfere. Planting in and around an established patio area will allow the family to be a part of the habitat without intruding.
It will be a pleasant surprise to see a hummingbird come right up and take a sip from a bright flower in your garden.

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