Attracting Wildlife to Your Garden

IMG_6425Ever wonder if there is more you could do in your yard and garden to attract a greater diversity of birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife? YardMap is a citizen-science project of Cornell University that can assist you in creating a backyard habitat friendly to many species of wildlife.

Via their impressive and easily navigated website, you can use satellite images of your yard and neighboring land to analyze habitat and types of wild animals that would be attracted to your site. You can find recommendations for planting different areas of your yard to create microclimates and zones for attracting different species.

IMG_6986It is a great resource to connect you with gardening and wildlife professionals, as well as other citizens like you, who share similar interests. There is an online forum to help answer questions, and you can join others in your area to form a group to do special projects. By registering your data and through updates, you can assist scientists in their studies of trends in wildlife populations and diversity.

IMG_6380Another organization, National Wildlife Federation is dedicated to restoring wildlife habitats in commercial and residential areas. Your yard can be certified through an application process to have it designated as a Certified Wildlife Habitat®.

One noteworthy project is their Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, aimed at creating habitat for pollinators in peril. It assists gardeners in choosing plants and creating shelter for breeding and overwintering pollinators. Their website is full of great information that makes the learning process easy and fun.

IMG_5078IMG_5506NWF also publishes Ranger Rick® magazine for kids and have programs to get kids outside and involved in learning about the habitat and wildlife around them. A special educational program designed for teachers is also offered and can assist in certifying schools as Wildlife Habitats for ongoing nature study.

Other websites worthy of visiting are: The Xerces Society dedicated to pollinator conservation, and Monarchwatch, which focuses specifically on restoring habitat for the critically imperiled Monarch butterfly.monarch

IMG_5084Each of us has a part to play in creating a healthy environment for ourselves, our children and community, which naturally extends to our wild neighbors as well. Please consider making your yard a haven that welcomes all.

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About Eliza Waters

Gardener, writer, photographer, naturalist
This entry was posted in Country Gardening, My Photos and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

64 Responses to Attracting Wildlife to Your Garden

  1. Murtagh's Meadow says:

    Great informative post Eliza. Some of those project sound very interesting. I have heard of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge before I think through Robbie site, but it is a great idea. If we all did a little to encourage wildlife it would achieve a lot!

    • Eliza Waters says:

      When you add up all the acreage that private homes occupy that could be a lot of habitat for wildlife and the native plants they depend upon. Small steps can lead to big results!

  2. Jim Ruebush says:

    Lots of good ideas here. I will look into some of them. Thanks.

  3. Interesting post, wish I had a garden!

  4. 1kayaker says:

    Thank you for sharing your information

  5. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says:

    Great info Eliza!

  6. Eliza, I really think the YardMap is such a cool idea!

    • Eliza Waters says:

      I agree, it’s brilliant. I get excited to think of the impact it would make to get masses of homeowners on the same page. One big wildlife corridor!

  7. cindy knoke says:

    I love Cornell’s online information especially about birds. That bobcat photo is phenomonal!

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank you, Cindy. I took the bobcat shot from my neighbor’s house, who called me one day to sneak over to see it, coming in the back through the cellar. This cat would hang out watching their woodpile, waiting for the red squirrels that lived there to venture out. They see all sorts of wild life because they have no scent of dog to scare things off like we do.

  8. Val Boyko says:

    Thank you for encouraging us all Elliza!
    Not sure if I want to attract the bobcat though! Great shot 👀

  9. Wonderful information!!! Thank you so much.

  10. Trini Lind says:

    I Ioooove wild things!! Now, can you do a post about how to attract fairies!?? 😄💖😄💖

  11. arlingwoman says:

    Great info, Eliza! Of course, I don’t want any more pesky lagomorphs!!! The row covers seem to be working, unless the local foxes have taken care of the problem. Happy spring! I hope it’s not too far off for you.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank you, Lisa. We’re lucky to have enough wild forage that the garden rarely is browsed. The coyote, fox and bobcats help keep things in check, too. I’ve heard that recently coyotes and foxes have made inroads in urban landscapes, too.

  12. MK says:

    Thanks so much for this, Eliza. It’s a timely tool as we plan our changes to the yard. I’ve bookmarked this post because there’s just too much to absorb all at once.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Glad you found it useful. Are you going more xerophytic? With the drought showing no end in sight, I expect the lawn is a hindrance. Do you offer a birdbath or water source like a small recirculating fountain? That will bring in a lot of birds and insects like those bees you posted a while back.

      • MK says:

        We want a recirculating pond, but are concerned about attracting coyotes. I would actually enjoy offering water to them, but with the junior high school so close, I think we’ll have to search for something well above ground level for our flying friends.

        I think we’ll do a slow transition to drought-tolerant, using

  13. Pauline says:

    We have so many different sorts of wildlife living and visiting our garden, sometimes we feel we are the intruders!

  14. Great info! I get excited every time I see a hawk or owl in the garden, or find a turtle or blue-tailed skink. I wish everyone felt the same way and would work towards creating healthy habitats.

  15. Laurie Graves says:

    An informative post with such a good message. Yes, yes, and yes!

  16. Robin says:

    Wonderful and informative post, Eliza. I’m going to check out the first link (Cornell’s). That sounds very interesting. Our yard in Ohio is certified by NWF. We did that a few years back, before we moved. Our youngest son and daughter-in-law (who are renting the house) are doing a good job of picking up where we left off and maintaining what we planted.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank you, Robin. I think Cornell does great work. I’ve been a supporter of the Ornithology Lab since the 80’s. Every little bit we can do can make such a big difference to our wild friends. 🙂

  17. Cathy says:

    These all sound like exceelent sources. I must look for something similar for my area too. We have had so many butterflies in the garden since it warmed up a few days ago it has made me feel so happy!

  18. Eliza, thank you for these excellent resources. It can make such a difference to these species if we create habitats in our yards. A couple of years ago, some of us tried to raise awareness in our workplace by having a bake sale ($ raised went to conservation), and we also provided milkweed seeds so that people could plant them amd help Monarch butterflies. I called it the “Cookies and Milkweed” sale. Anyone who would like to use the idea is welcomed to use it. We got the milkweed seeds for free from a local gardening association.

    I am Canadian, so I’ll be checking out the resources you provide to see if the info applies to my region.

    Thanks for promoting this cause. If we are mindful of how we set up our yards, we can make a big difference. 👍

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank you for sharing the idea for raising awareness via a bake sale. Great to get kids involved, too. I agree that if we all do something in our yards, it really will add up!

  19. I have used Cornell’s app for bird identification for the last few years (iBird). It was absurdly expensive, but it is one of my all time favorites, and worth every single penny (even though I waited until it was on super sale to get it). Just this weekend, it helped me confirm the identity of one duck I can’t remember seeing in person before (Wood Duck). And it has helped identify a host of other birds in the pond over the sort of spring we’re having right now.

    I did not, however, know of this yard app. I am going to try not to obsess over it, because I have a million other things to do. However, I feel this may be a battle I lose. This whole “giant backyard with lots of water” thing is just a giant (and wonderful) opportunity to enjoy nature.

  20. Julie says:

    Really great post Eliza and very well said. interesting link to Yard Map too, even for a UK reader, there is still lots to prompt thoughtful planting and habitats.

  21. We’ve done two out of four so I’m off to check the other two out. Thank you. 🙂

  22. I love this!! So much interesting information and very beautiful pictures!! That large cat is so adorable and the bunny! I love how you promote a safe environment for everyone, including these beautiful animals! I don’t have a garden but if I ever create one I will reference your post here! It’s very helpful and informative. I never heard of any of these projects, organizations, or websites, thank you for sharing! 😀

  23. Robbie says:

    thank you for new resources..I am checking out Yard Map! I am growing more host plants for butterflies this year-even some that are on endangered list:-( Small ones that people don’t realize are disappearing.
    Your 7 acres of paradise must be a haven for wildlife!

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank you, Robbie. I knew you’d be leading the pack here. 🙂 Since most of our land is wild, it is easy to provide lots of habitat. My lawn is small in comparison, and even that is left unmown while various things bloom in it. It is a pretty ‘wild’ lawn – lol!

  24. Kathy Sturr says:

    I tried YardMap in its infancy Eliza and had much trouble trying to map my yard – and editing. I will have to revisit. Love that bobcat – WOW!

  25. Thanks for sharing your spectacular photos :-). Bobcat!!! And thanks for the useful information. I don’t have a garden but I will pass it on to my sister. She was wondering about this a few weeks ago.

  26. Debra says:

    Great links! Thanks for sharing. Love your photos =)

  27. lonerloaner says:

    Hi Eliza,
    Do you mind if I use the picture from this article in a piece I was just inspired to write because of it and the title? My title is different, but I couldn’t help but use you as a muse for some inspiration this morning.

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