|habitat sign posted on tree close to sidewalk|
Some years ago I went through the process of registering my yard with the National Wildlife Federation as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat. I'm happy to say that since doing so, at least two other families in our subdivision have done the same.
The process is very easy -- and you don't have to have a "wild" or unconventional yard to qualify. As a homeschooling family we made the process a family project, having the kids do the mapping and identifying the required features that we already had, and helping to make additional features (like special bird feeders and butterfly feeders).
The important features that your yard must have are food supply (berries, seeds, fruit, nectar for example), water supply (a "puddling" spot, a saucer of water, a bird bath), and cover for raising young (shrubbery, trees, bird houses, spots for toads or lizards, etc.). In the application one lists and maps out the areas in one's yard that provide these three necessities for nurturing some kind of wildlife -- which could be birds, butterflies, dragonflies, mammals, whatever. These elements can be clustered in one area (like the backyard), or spread throughout your lot.
|one end of woodland path (to the left)|
|woodland phlox and self heal in my meadow in April|
Even an apartment front door or balcony can be made into a "backyard wildlife habitat" by planting up a pot or two of flowers chosen for their nectar or nurturing benefits, with a water source and some shrubbery to provide cover for raising young near by.
Add a couple of good insect, butterfly, and bird identification books, maybe a sketchbook or camera, and you have the beginnings of wonderful study of natural science.
Some of my favorite resources are National Wildlife Federation Backyard Habitat, Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars: Grandma's Bag of Tricks and Country Living Gardener A Blessing of Toads: A Gardener's Guide to Living with Nature by Sharon Lovejoy along with any of her other books, Outdoor Nature Hour blog by Harmony Fine Arts, Nature Journaling: Learning to Observe and Connect with the World Around You, Discover Nature in Winter (Discover Nature Series), among others.
This post is linked to Tuesday Garden Party