We live in downtown Albuquerque, not far from the Rio Grande Bosque State Park. In about 15 minutes I can walk to a beautiful riparian habitat filled with egrets, herons, song birds, porcupines, beavers and muskrats. While we can’t get the fabulous water birds in our yard, we can create a wildlife habitat at home that brings in songbirds, lizards and other wild things.
I can practically see your eyebrows raising as you read this. Why on earth would we want to do that? Doesn’t wildlife = cat eating coyotes and smelly skunks? How does this benefit a city dweller? We’ll start with the five most obvious ways
- Year Round Beauty: a backyard wildlife habitat has a wide range color and texture that changes throughout the year.
2. Low Maintenance: If you choose native plants or non-natives that are appropriate to your location, you’ll spend less time watering, mowing, and taking care of it in general
3. Natural Pest Control: A healthy eco-system isn’t over run by bugs bent on ravaging your veggies. The whole circle of life is happening right there in the garden without any interference on your part
4. Free entertainment: Watching the hummingbirds battle it out over the feeder like tiny fighter jets is way better than any war movie
5. Helps Protect Our Native Birds and Other Wildlife: Urban development is happening at ever increasing speed, often with little thought of its effects on the non-human world. We can help to mitigate some of the damage we cause by using native plants and taking care of our winged and wild neighbors.
To create this little urban oasis, you need 4 things:
Food: put out a bird feeder or plant sunflowers.
Cover: anyplace where critters can hide from predators is good. We have a butterfly bush, and a huge rosemary where sparrows like to hide.
Water: a bird bath or a fountain. Bees and lizards will appreciate it too. You might also be visited by thirsty mammals.
Places to raise young: trees or shrubs for nesting, bat boxes, bird houses etc. Often, the cover and food source will also serve as the place to raise babies.
It doesn’t take much by way of effort or resources. You may already be doing these things in your garden without any special recognition. If you really love this process and want to tell the world what you are doing, you can register your backyard habitat with the National Wildlife Federation for $25 and they’ll send you a sign to put in your yard. This donation will help them in their work to protect wildlife and habitat, advocate for the environment and confront climate change and make you look super-green to your neighbors.