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Making Your Yard Wildlife-Friendly

2013 November 7

By Lina Younes

While enjoying the fall foliage on a recent walk with my dogs, I noticed that the birds seemed to be chirping more than usual. Perhaps they were saying goodbye to their friends, who were starting their trek to warmer settings.

Since not all birds are migratory in nature, how can we help those species that remain in northern areas, even during the winter? Personally, I’ve always debated whether it’s better to allow them to find their own food or have bird feeders. I’m concerned that, by providing bird feeders, we might be making birds more dependent on humans and interfere with their feeding habits. Either way, greenscaping is a great way to create a natural environment that’s friendly to many animals, including birds, butterflies, and bees.

Here are some tips to help you create this welcoming environment in your own backyard.

  • Plant native trees, bushes and plants, especially ones with berries, fruits and flowers.
    When planting your garden, plan in advance.
  • Plant shrubs and trees that will blossom at different times throughout the year so our feathered friends and wildlife will always have food available.
  • Check with your local cooperative extension office or environmental authorities to identify plants that will attract birds and wildlife in your area.
  • Consider composting at home to enrich your soil without using chemicals that may be harmful to birds and wildlife.

Have you seen any interesting birds in your area this fall? Have you taken steps to greenscape your yard? As always, we love to hear from you.

About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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6 Responses leave one →
  1. Sloan permalink
    November 8, 2013

    If you can, please feed the birds in winter. Those that stay are usually older and know they wouldn’t live if they migrated. Feeding them will insure they make it through the winter. Same for those that stay. Nothing humans do will change what is in their psyche. If they want to leave they will, but helping them along will do you and the birds a great service. Be certain that if you start feeding in the late fall / winter, that you keep feeding through the entire winter. It will be the end of the bird(s) who are depending on you. Another reason is, we never know what the winter may bring. If it is extremely cold or snowy, everything may be covered and they couldn’t find natural food. And remember, even though you think they are only eating your food, they are still eating whatever else they can find. We have a great need for more backyard birders. Last year was my first to do it, and I loved seeing them come in from the cold. I kept feeding in the spring so they had food for their nesting until the insects returned. If anyone wants to do more, check out Cornell University Project Feederwatch. It was fun for us, we’re doing it again this year.

  2. Lina-EPA permalink*
    November 8, 2013

    Thanks, Sloan, for this useful information.

  3. Barbara permalink
    November 11, 2013

    At this time of year when all your neighbors are scouring their yards to clean up all their leaves and putting them out by the curb for pick up consider holding on to your leaves. I even add to my own leaves by accepting them from my neighbors. I remove all the leaves from my “showy” lawn areas but leave them in place in my beds and even add to the leaves that fall in areas I am trying to turn to “unlawn”. Leaf litter suppresses weeds, adds nutrients back into the soil and can sustain a lot of native insect life helpful for overwintering birds and next year’s healthy populations of native insects.

  4. John Glennon permalink
    November 13, 2013

    Thanks for putting out this useful information about easy ways to be more environmentally friendly with landscaping. I think it is important to remember to try and make yard landscaping conform to the surrounding environment because it is better for animals in the area, helps with potential problems such as water runoff into streets, and finally helps conserve resources used on making your lawn different from what nature intended-which also saves money. Fully using natural resources by composting is another way to save money and avoid putting nasty chemicals in the ground.

  5. Rhinogutterguard permalink
    November 19, 2013

    Excellent post!! You have shared great ways to make yard healthy and friendly. Vegetation is vital for establishment and I’ve been addicted since I got my first milkweed plant and saw a Queen butterfly on it. We had just moved into our brand new house with a brand new yard and I could hardly wait to start the landscaping. Thanks for sharing this post.

  6. James Gurll permalink
    November 21, 2013

    What Excellent post, Back yard of my Vacation Rental Costa Rica is a nice green space.Last Year I planted some trees, last month my son visit our propriety and discover a friendly community of scarlet macaw, I said community but they are a couple who share our house .We have to consider that We are not the owners of our house, our farm etc. Many other little animal still living on green zones next hour houses or in our houses, make a wildlife friendly yard is one of the best ideas, thanks for sharing.

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