And by 4 elements, I don't mean earth, air, fire, and water. I mean four things that wildlife need to survive and thrive. Since I've issued forth a challenge of creating wildlife habitat in your yard, I suppose the least I can do is offer some instructions. The National Wildlife Federation website, which I linked to in the last post, has quite a bit of information for getting people started.
Nevertheless, here are the basics. I'll expand on these in the next posts.
Food: A habitat must provide wildlife with something to eat. Natural food is preferred, so think in terms of native shrubs, grasses, flowers, and trees that provide sustenance for native animals.
Water: A reliable source of drinking water can be hard to come by. You can attract more wildlife with a small pond than with a dozen bird feeders. Anything from a simple bird bath to an enormous koi pond can add wildlife value to your yard.
Cover: Animals need safe places to hide from predators and to rest. Birds, for example, can hide in shrubs, brush piles, or brambles to avoid marauding cats. Small reptiles appreciate rock piles. Bats often use roosting boxes. Does your yard provide places for small animals to hide?
Nesting sites: While not necessary for the survival of individuals, nesting sites are critical for the survival of a species. Bird houses are good for cavity nesting birds, but other birds prefer platform nests or thick brush for hiding their nests. Frog and aquatic insects may reproduce in a garden pond. And butterflies will lay their eggs on certain plants that their larvae eat.
The entire Gardening for Wildlife series:
Gardening for Wildlife: The 4 Element
Gardening for Wildlife: Food
Gardening for Wildlife: Water
Gardening for Wildlife: Cover
Gardening for Wildlife: Nesting Sites