Needs for wildlife are the same as for people-food, water, safety, and a place for a home.  As more cement covers our soil and more people occupy the space, existence becomes more difficult for creatures.  Even in town we can help a little by providing what they need. Birds and Butterflies seem to be the most popular.

          In the dog pen we put a 4 feet by 8 feet piece of plywood on railroad ties and covered it with indoor-outdoor carpet for the dogs to sleep on in the sun. I noticed the open ends looked a little worn and lifted the board and was hissed at by a “possum”. The dogs had not objected when he moved in and he slept during the days. After the dogs came in he was free to roam to look for food. He took advantage of goodies only half eaten that squirrels dropped such as apples and tomatoes. Perhaps he liked bird food that I put out and was still available when he went hunting. When the dogs went out in the morning he was asleep and they did not bother each other.  Mother Possums kick their kids out of the home in the fall to get their homes ready for the next brood. He stayed for some weeks but got too big for the space.

          Birds eat at three levels (1) on the ground, (2) on a surface off the ground such as a picnic table, and (3) on hanging feeders. I try to keep different foods at the proper level.  Sometimes it snowed on my feeders while I was at work so I put one under the truck sitting in our driveway until I could clear all the others.  Generally I watch the 10:00 pm news and check windows and doors before going to bed. One night I looked out and saw a mother Coon and 2 babies come out of the storm sewer along the curb, and head for the truck so I watched every night and about the same time here they came. For several days I saw one of my neighbors putting something at the edge of the gutter. What a terrible place to live!!!

          In summer I often have extra water lilies, so I put them in individual small ponds in various places. Then to keep Mosquitoes out I put fish in the ponds and found out I was feeding Coons who could easily reach in and catch supper. So soon I had to put those little Mosquito Killer biscuits in all my free standing ponds as there were no more Goldfish to eat them. My mother Coon and babies stopped coming one day and I have not seen them since.

          If I happen to be up on a full moon night in summer and look out the window there will probably be several little “blobs” of fur with a powder puff for a tail eating and playing leap frog in the lawn. There is nothing cuter than a baby bunny! I plant clover in the lawn as they prefer to eat it to many of my other plants. They play games much as kids do.  Their parents aren’t as much fun so I have had to build chicken wire fences around the Lilies and spray such things as Liquid Fence or Blood Meal on tender new plants.  My ornamental Kale and Cabbage must be up in a fairly tall pot to survive. It must taste as good as the Clover.

          When it starts cooling off in the fall I see Praying Mantis on the screens. Then I look for woven balls clinging to some of the plants and try to move them to one side as Mama Mantis, some moths and some Butterflies may have pupae or eggs in those cases. Some are cemented closely to dry leaves or stems so may be hard to move. Also some Butterflies such as Mourning Cloak may spend winter as an adult under a piece of bark. In August and September the yard is full of a variety of moths and Butterflies as the Butterfly Bush, Butterfly Weeds, Joe Pye Weed , and Dill are full.  As soon as the Lady Mantis finishes mating, she eats her husband as the protein is needed for the eggs to develop. Our wildlife may not all be model citizens.

          Then there are the squirrels! There are oak trees in the neighborhood so they have food.  This year it seems to me the acorns are thicker than ever but squirrels eat many things-bird food, corn, bird eggs, bread, and nuts of any kind.  I have at least six who eat together with an occasional spat for the best place. Some people hate them while others (like me) feed them.  There is a Fuzzy Tail Treat of peanuts, corn, and black oil sunflower seeds for a special dining area of their own.  If you look at the Blue Spruce trees in Lincoln , many of them seem to have 2 leaders up high.  The mother Squirrels like to chew the original one off to make a flat surface for her new babies. On my patio I have seen squirrels, rabbits, and a number of species of birds all eating together.

          Wildlife can be a destructive nuisance in your yard, but they can also be very enjoyable to watch. See if you can reach a balance before you get out the pesticides and try to get rid of them. Many or the wildlife we have are useful, but be careful in trying to get rid of the undesirables or you probably will also get rid of those who do good.

Copyright 2010