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Cover & Space of a Nature Habitat

Cover & Space of a Nature Habitat

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Published by msblsports
Talk to anyone involved in the improvement of wildlife habitat and you will hear four words – food, water, cover, and space. These are the four essentials for wildlife. Without them you can have the best intentions in the world, but you won’t attract a wide variety of
species to your property.
Talk to anyone involved in the improvement of wildlife habitat and you will hear four words – food, water, cover, and space. These are the four essentials for wildlife. Without them you can have the best intentions in the world, but you won’t attract a wide variety of
species to your property.

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Published by: msblsports on Jan 21, 2012
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Page 1 A Plant's Home
WindStar Wildlife Institute
For more nature habitat informationVisit these helpful websites:
 A Plant's Home A Bird's Home A Homesteader's Home
Talk to anyone involved in the improvement of wildlife habitat and you will hear four words
 food, water, cover, and space.These are the four essentials for wildlife.Without them you can have the best intentions in the world, but you won
 t attract a wide variety of  species to your property.
Cover & Space
Essential Elementsof a Wildlife Habitat
hen it comes to wildlife, weautomatically think aboutfood and water, but cover needsare also critical for speciessurvival. Usually our involvementwith cover for wildlife ends withputting up a few bird nestingboxes.These are fine, and have theadded benefit of beingattractive and easy to place inthe yard, but other kinds of wildlife require other types of shelter. Wildlife needsprotection from both predatorsand harsh weather, a place tostay cool or warm in season,and a well-concealed location toraise a family.Trees are obvious additions tothe landscape, particularlypines which retain theirsheltering qualities throughoutthe winter. Letting the branchesof evergreens
and deciduoustrees during the summer
growunpruned to the ground is aneasy way to increase cover for avariety of small species.While we tend to be quick toremove dead trees, standing
snags" and fallen logs areinvaluable for wildlife. They offerboth shelter and food to over40 species of birds and morethan 20 kinds of mammals. Inaddition, by attracting insect-eating wildlife, they indirectlyserve to protect the livingplants on your property.
Leave Dead Trees
If they are not threateningpeople or structures, or if theycan be reinforced or moved to asafer location, letting deadtrees remain part of yourwildlife habitat will be of greatbenefit.
Page 2A Plant's Home
WindStar Wildlife InstituteWhenever you can createthis kind of environment, it willsustain the widest variety of wildlife. The same can be saidof planting in
levels," fromground covers through shrubs,on into small trees and finallytall upper-story trees.
Reduce Open Areas
While maintaining open areasfor your family, there arecorner-of-the-yard additionsthat provide protectiveshelter, nesting sites, andescape routes for suchcreatures as rabbits, foxes,and woodchucks.Hedgerows of dogwood,honeysuckle, redbud, or wildcherry offer both shelter andfood, as do thickets of rosesor blackberries. If you have thespace, field crops such ascorn, grain sorghum, orsoybeans are excellent.Brush piles are anotherpossibility, and should beplaced near the edge of woods,or at the edge of a pond withpart of the brush submerged.They should be about 5 ft. highand at least 12 ft. in diameter.Discarded Christmas trees areone source of brush pilematerial. The foundation shouldconsist of large rocks or big logswhich won
t decompose tooquickly.Rock piles or walls can be atthe back of your lot, or in thecenter of a pond. They attractducks and turtles, so avoidplacing them near the edge of the water where those specieswould be more vulnerable topredators. Providing food andwater sources close to anyshelter feature will naturallymake it even more attractive towildlife.
Space to Raise a Family
As humans, when we think about desirable space, we tendto picture it wide and open. Forus, it is more of a luxury than anecessity. While we can continueto exist, even if more stressfully,within limited space, this isn
tthe case for wildlife.Each species has a minimumarea that it requires for food,water, raising a family, and basicsurvival. This varies from verysmall habitats to large tracts of unbroken forest. While there canbe two to four chipmunks peracre with a range as small ashalf an acre, ideally there will beonly one to four raccoons per 47acres, and their range can bealmost two miles.Dead trees are only oneexample of 
free" shelter thatwe remove when we manicure ouryards. Mowing takes away thetall grasses that protect largenumbers of birds and smallmammals. Allowing a corner of the yard, or a strip along oneedge of your property, to growtall will help wildlife, while stillretaining lawn areas for yourfamily.Adding a fence, paths, or abench can make thisenvironment looked moreplanned and acceptable inneighborhoods with strictzoning regulations, as well asencouraging you to walk insidefor a closer look.You can let naturally-occurring vegetation grow tallenough to offer shelter, or youmight want to think aboutcreating a wildflower meadowfor additional color and beauty.One of the best places to finddiversity of wildlife is known as
edge," that area wheredifferent types of plantcommunities come together.This might involve an abruptchange, such as woods to tilledfarmland; or a more gradualtransition from woods to a tallgrass and brush-filled field.
Page 3A Plant's Home
WindStar Wildlife InstituteThe size of the animal isn
talways the determining factor.Woodchucks can be found asdensely populated as ten peracre, with a range of only aquarter of a mile, but opossums,which are similar in size, are onlyfound two per mile, with a rangeof 12 acres.Needs within one species alsovary. Adult turkeys need maturetrees to roost in and to providefood such as acorns, but theiryoung require clearings withshort grass where they can findinsects to eat. Some species,such as bluebirds, will defend aterritorial area, while others likepurple martins enjoy living inclose communities.While we can adapt fairly easilyto cramped quarters, the wildlifeneed for space refers to morethan actual distance betweenindividuals. It means the totalenvironment within that area.Squeezing species into ever-shrinking space can mean thedeath of individuals and, in theworst case, extinction.
Variety Attracts Variety
By increasing the variety of foods, types of vegetation, andheights of habitat, as well asoffering plentiful nourishmentand water, you will be able toattract the widest variety of wildlife to your property.When designing your landscapeto increase available space fordifferent species, also think about your own plans forinteracting with wildlife.If you are trying to attract alot of birds, place feeders andnatural food sources in clearview from your window.If photography is your aim, besure that there is some shelterto hide behind while watchinganimals drink and bathe. Whileimproving habitat certainlybenefits wildlife, it should alsobring you pleasure and, if well-designed and built aroundnative plants, be relatively self-sustaining.It is very important tolandscape our own propertiesto be more supportive of wildlife,but it is equally important toencourage others to do thesame. By linking a number of yards, farms, and small tractsof trees through the efforts of individual owners, we are givingcreatures a much greaterchance to thrive by creating
wildlife corridors."
Neighbors as a Team
In some parts of the country,whole neighborhoods arestarting to work together, eachfamily contributing something
water, feeders, shrubs withwinter berries
to thecombined landscape.In other situations,communities are working toenhance common areas, suchas public parks or retirementhome properties.By improving one
s ownproperty, others notice theincreased beauty and pleasure,and they are inspired to followthat example. In this way, smallchanges can add up to majorbenefits to wildlife and theoverall environment.Start today to think aboutways to provide the fouressentials for wildlife, and soonyou will be an integral part of the growing movement torestore habitat and increasethe survival of our country
swildlife species.
Sixteen Components of Wildlife Habitat
Landscaping for Wildlife

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