Last week I wrote about the beginnings of turning your yard into a nature center. This week I want to continue that theme with links to posts by others.  I want to start with a lovely, peaceful video that Ernie McLaney posted on Children and Nature Network.

Note: Select play in 480p, just to the right of the volume button for the best quality play. Start the video playing and you will see the button to choose this option.

The images in this video come from a yard, in North Carolina, that is certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a wildlife habitat. It shows what can be accomplished in a small suburban yard with planning and creativity. Most children love to putter in the dirt if they are started early enough. Working alongside you to plan and plant the garden builds connection with both you and nature. Researching what to put in the garden helps everyone understand the native species that live in the area.

All animals need four things for good habitat. They need food. This is what I started with, a simple feeder. This brought in some birds. They need water. I have a single water source but this year I will add at least one more. Adding the water source definitely improved the numbers and variety of birds at the feeders. Animals, and birds, need shelter so providing places where they can build nests and roost during bad weather will attract them, for example hanging houses for birds or making little rock piles or overturned broken plant pots for lizards and toads. For those who are a little uneasy with these kinds of critters, they are usually voracious insect eaters. Finally, animals need cover where they can hide from predators. Many things can do double duty, shrubbery that is dense but has berries provides both food and cover. Tall grass allows wildlife like rabbits and toads to hide and provides food for the rabbits to eat. Insects hiding in the grasses provide food for the toads.

There are many resources to help you get started. I have listed a few as a starting point, below.

National Wildlife Federation Backyard Habitat program.

Wildlife Habitat Council. They also have a listing by state.

The Wild Ones.

Each of these provide guidelines for starting a garden. The library can provide good books. But, one place that will have good advice that is specific to your area is the local nursery. Let them know that you are wanting to plant a low maintenance wildlife friendly garden and they can get you started.

What lives in your neighborhood? How are you going to help it thrive?