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Please send your question regarding habitat development and gardening for birds to gardening@birdzilla.com. We'll answer as many as we can and post selected answers here.

Q. Wildlife doesn't just randomly occur in a given area; it is there in response to habitat which meets its needs. What are the four essential elements of a wildlife habitat, including for birds?
DF - Atlanta, GA

A. Food, water, cover (protection from weather and predators) and space to raise a family.

Tom Patrick is president of the Windstar Wildlife Institute. Tom's company provides training and certification in wildlife habitat development programs. Thanks to Tom and some of his Certified Wildlife Habitat Naturalists for answering the questions.

Q. Feeders are used to supplement the foods provided by trees, shrubs, flowers, crops in food plots, vines and ground covers. What are the different types of feeders?
TR - LA, CA.

A. Cylindrical, hopper, suet, hummingbird, squirrel and fruit.

 

California Plants for Wildlife Habitat & Conservation Landscaping
Do you enjoy observing nature...hearing the song of the chickadee...watching hummingbirds fill up on nectar from trumpet vines...listening to the chattering of squirrels...seeing the beauty and grace of a monarch butterfly perched on a milkweed... experiencing the antics of a Mockingbird...the cooing of the Mourning Doves...the swiftness of the Cottontail...and the brilliance of a Cardinal or Baltimore Oriole?

If the answer is "yes", you'll probably want to landscape your property for wildlife so you can experience even more from Mother Nature by attracting more wildlife to your property.

Wildlife doesn't just randomly appear in a given area. It is there because of favorable habitat. The essential elements that you must provide in your habitat are food, water, cover and a place to raise a family. To attract the most wildlife, you need native trees, shrubs, groundcover, vines and wildflowers, many of which will provide food and shelter.

Native or indigenous plants naturally occur in the region in which they evolved. They are adapted to local soil, rainfall and temperature conditions, and have developed natural defenses to many insects and diseases. Because of these traits, native plants will grow with minimal use of water, fertilizers and pesticides. Wildlife species evolve with plants; therefore, they use native plant communities as their habitat. Using native plants helps preserve the balance and beauty of natural ecosystems.

Remember the function served by plants and structures is more important than their appearance. In other words, don't base your planting decisions solely on what a plant looks like. Following are WindStar Wildlife Institute's plant recommendations for wildlife habitats in California:

Tall Trees
Oak, Sycamore, Cottonwood, Pine, Cypress, Red or White Alder, Big Leaf Maple, CA Box Elder

Shorter Trees
CA Black Walnut, Desert Willow, Ash, Redbud, Scrub Oak, Western Serviceberry, Madrone, Dogwood, Hazelnut

Shrubs
Elderberry, Mountain Mahogany, Currant, Blackberry, Gooseberry, Bush Mallow, Summer Holly, Ceanothus, Manzanita, CA Sagebrush, Artemesia, Toyon, Mahonia, Desert Olive, Buttonbush, Chuparosa, Saltbush, Bush Sunflower

Flowers
Monkey Flower, Wallfloewr, Penstemon, Cardinal Flower, Red Thistle, Columbine, Multi-flowered Snapdragon, Lupine, Sage, Salvia, CA Fuschia, Coyote Mint, Buckwheat, Rabbitbrush, Seep Willow, Sunflower

Cactus
Prickly Pear, Cholla

Vines
CA Blackberry, Western Virgin's Bower, CA Wild Grape

Groundcovers
Vetch, Wild Strawberry, Wild Ginger, Bearberry, Bunchberry, Mountain Pennyroyal, Western Swordfern, Redwood Violet

Grasses
Alkali Rye, Spikerush, Horsetail, CA Oatgrass, Tufted Hairgrass, Blue-eyed Grass

California is recognized for its diverse landscape. In Northern California, you'll find the vineyards of Napa Valley. Turning southward you will find the Central Valley and High Sierras. The Central Coast features many beaches .The south offers the California deserts--Palm Springs and Death Valley. The California Native Plant Society can provide lists of plants for a specific region.

For more information on improving your wildlife habitat, visit the WindStar Wildlife Institute web site. On the web site, you can also apply to certify your property as a wildlife habitat, register for the "Certified Wildlife Habitat Naturalist e-Learning course, become a member and sign up for the FREE WindStar Wildlife Garden Weekly e-mail newsletter.


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