Selecting Plants That Attract Wildlife
Criteria For A Natural Habitat-Food, Water, Shelter And A Space To Live
Eric wants to know about the criteria of a wildlife habitat. The 4 measures that are most commonly used - food, water, shelter and essentially space to live are key elements in a home landscape. One of the key elements is structure, habitat structure, here we have a tree canopy, then ground cover and then mulch. All of those combine to provide the things we're looking for - food, water and shelter. The water for insects can be on the leaves, the mulch can't be under emphasized. The importance of leaf litter for earth worm production, isopods, amphipods, all these little things with legs are food for Blue Jays and Cardinals, especially during spring time. Snails are unsung heroes in our gardens because the shells of snails are an essential source of calcium. Female nesting birds need to replace their calcium and snails provide that source.
Andy gets to quantify what animals are using Sandy's gardens and has seen quite a few animals move into this property because of the landscaping. The birds are the most rewarding group. There are plenty of native plants, plus the azaleas in this landscape. A wildlife habitat doesn't have to be strictly native. Shrubs provide a nesting habitat for Blue Jays, Brown Thrashers and Northern Cardinals. In fact there is a Cardinal building a new nest in a shrub in the side yard. Birds have quickly come to this yard. They may feed in other yards because of bird feeders but they nest here meaning their life cycle is completed in this yard. Box Turtles are another group of animals present in this yard. They are an obscure little reptile group of animals and there are different species found around North America. Here they have the Eastern Box Turtle which is an animal in decline throughout its range. This yard is supporting no less than 4. Andy knows them individually. There is a male and a female up front and a male and female in the back, plus there is a juvenile he hasn't seen yet this spring. These turtles have unique shell patterns. This is their territory, this is where they live and they don't wander far. Identifying these animals is extremely gratifying for Andy.