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BACKYARD WILDLIFE

SOMETHING YOU CAN DO FOR WILDLIFE!

In this day of global environmental concerns, an individual person or family can feel pretty powerless to help out. Organizing your lawn for birds, insects, and small mammals is one way you can provide habitat for Wisconsin's native wildlife residents. Inviting nature back into our cities will also make our urban environments nicer places to grow up and live in.

Every day, cities and suburbs transform more of Wisconsin's wild lands into urban environments. As Wisconsin's urban centers grown, our homes, markets, and workplaces displace the native residents of these areas - wildlife. With a bit of planning, we can provide living space for many animals that would otherwise have to move on, such as rabbits, meadow voles, raccoons, chipmunks, squirrels, opossums and songbirds.

In the past, landscape designs have taken on a look of sterile uniformity - square hedgerows and clipped grass. Today, many landscapes are planned to enhance natural contours and features of the yard. In fact, cities throughout the nation are lifting restrictions on maximum height at which homeowners can cut their grass. Some homeowners have even reseeded their lawns with native plants and wildflowers, saving gasoline and mowing time, and increasing the lawn's capacity to hold water in the soil. Native lawns also cut down fertilizing needs and help keep city lakes and wetlands clean.

- Text: Inga Brynildson
Department of Natural Resources
PO Box 7921, Madison, Wisconsin

Plans and Shelters for Promoting Wildlife in Wisconsin's Backyards

Lawn Planning Guides ~ Feeding and Watering ~ Shelter Plans

PLAN YOUR LAWN FOR WILDLIFE

There are also many conventional ways to spruce up your yard for wildlife. Keep in mind that wildlife has the same life requirements as we do - water, food, shelter for protection from predators and weather, and nesting and denning sites.

First, draw a scale drawing of your yard, including any permanent structures such as walks, driveway, house, sheds, clotheslines and utility poles. The remaining area is what you have to work with. Choosing your plantings is the next step. There are three rules of thumb to remember:

1. A variety of plants means a variety of wildlife.
2. Wisconsin wildlife is more at home with native Wisconsin trees & shrubs.
3. Different plants, foliage and fruit bloom at different times of the year. Take advantage of these natural cycles and choose plantings which provide a rotation.

Here are several publications which will provide you with tables on how to choose plants suitable to Wisconsin climate, your needs, and the needs of a variety of wildlife species.

Landscape Plants That Attract Birds: "University of Wisconsin-Extension," G1609, available at County Extension Offices. $15.00

Invite Birds to Your Home, Conservation Plantings for the Midwest: Soil Conservation Services, PA-982, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402. $30.00

Invite Wildlife to Your Backyard Wildlife Program, National Wildlife Federation, Washington, D.C. 20026. $25.00

FEEDING AND WATERING

Wildlife feeding and watering stations can be as simple as a bird bath and few strung pine cones rolled in peanut butter and birdseed, or as elaborate as a pond with a sprinkler system and a city of bird feeders. Whatever your plan, keep your stations in eye view so you and your family can enjoy the wildlife your efforts attract. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Keep feeders and nest boxes rustic, no need to paint.
2. Keep feeders clean, wildlife can get sick too.
3. Use perchless fedders to discourage starlings and English sparrows from monopolizing your larder.
4. Fill an open box with course sand to help birds digest.
5. Scatter seed in the grass below feeders for ground feeding birds and mammals.
6. Tie suet of grease drippings in nylon net bags, the kind fruit comes in, and hang in trees.
7. Plates of water and seed placed in window boxes may be the answer for apartment dwellers.
8. Garden stores and hobby shops will give you lots of style ideas for feeders and nest boxes.
9. Ears of corn staked on long nails to a board as a treat for cottontails and squirrels.
10. During summer months, stake orange halves for special treat for orioles and brown thrashers.
11. Place feeders out of the wind.
12. Gather discarded Christmas trees and secure to bare trees or clothesline post for wintertime cover.
13. Squirrel-proof songbird nest boxes and feeders by placing slippery metal cones above and below, or by placing the boxes on metal poles instead of in trees.
14. Place feeders or nest boxes 4 or 5 feet off the ground and near shrubs and trees to protect users from predators.
15. Tie bells on neighborhood cats to give birds and small mammals a head start when danger strikes.
16. Most important of all - when feeding wildlife, feed consistently. If you are a wintertime feeder, feed all winter. Wildlife will become dependent on you for food.

SHELTER PLANS

You can provide wildlife cover and denning sites by piling large rocks, or criss-crossing railroad ties and planting wild grape vines in, among the pile. Locate such piles near shrubs and brush. If your lawn lacks mature trees needed for natural nest building, secure nest boxes for songbirds and squirrels in the crooks of the trees or on poles. If building your own nest boxes, follow these specifications and place in the appropriate habitat for the bird or mammal.

SPECIFICATIONS
Species

Entrance Diameter

Entrance Above Floor

Floor Dimensions

House
Depth

Nest Above
Ground

Bluebird

1 1/2 in

6 inches

5in x 5in

8 in

5-10 ft

Barn Owl

6 in

4 inches

10in x 18 in

15-18in

12-18 ft

Bewick's Wren

1-1 1/4in

1-6 in

4 x 4 in

6-8 in

6-10 ft

Carolina Wren

1.25-2.5in

4-6 in

4 x 4 in

6-8 in

5-10 ft

Chickadees

1 1/8 in

6-8 in

4 x 4 in

8-10 in

5-15 ft

Crested Flycatcher

2 in

6-8 in

6 x 5 in

8-10in

8-20 ft

Flicker

2 1/2in

14-16 in

7 x 7 in

16-24 in

6-20 ft

Hawk, Sparrow

3 in

9-12 in

8 x 8 in

12-15 in

10-30 ft

House Wren

1 x 2.5in

4-6 in

4 x 4 in

6-8 in

5-10 ft

Martin Purple

2 1/2in

1 in

6 x 6 in

6 in

15 ft

Nuthatch

1 1/4in

6-8 in

4 x 4 in

8-10 in

12-20 ft

Phoebe

Open front and sides

7 x 7 in

8 in

8-12 ft

Robin

Open front and sides

7 x 7 in

8 in

8-12 ft

Sapsucker

1 3/4in

12-16 in

6 x 6 in

14-18 in

12-40 ft

Screech Owl

3 in

9-12 in

8 x 8 in

12-15in

10-30 ft

Titmouse

1 1/4in

6-8 in

4 x 4 in

8-10in

6-15 ft

Tree Swallow

1 1/2in

1-5 in

5 x 5 in

6 in

3-6 ft

Downy Woodpecker

1 1/4in

6-8 in

4 x 4 in

8-10 in

6-20 ft

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

2 1/2in

10-12 in

6 x 6 in

12-14 in

12-20 ft

Red-Headed Woodpecker

2 in

9-12 in

6 x 6 in

12-15 in

12-20 ft

Tree Squirrel

2.5 x 2.5in

10 x 10 in

20 in

 
Ellwood H. May Environmental Park
3615 Mueller Road, Sheboygan, WI 53083 - 920.459.3906 - maywood@sheboyganwi.gov