You’re Not the Only Resident on Your Property
Summer is fading, and our Pine Tree State is still teeming with wildlife. We have been flocking to the beaches, we are hitting the trails – anything to get outside and enjoy the beautiful nature Maine has to offer. Even your own backyard probably has a lot to offer. Maybe you have a patio for outdoor dining, or a garden with beautiful flowers or even vegetables. Having some green space is practically a given when you live in a Maine home, and there are many ways for us to enjoy it. It reminds us of the natural beauty that surrounds us, and that we are not the only ones to inhabit it.
Wildlife sightings in a backyard are a treat (as long as it’s not a bear trying to sneak into your trash!). Bees helps gardens flourish, butterflies bring lively colors, birds showcase elaborate feathers and avian drama, and squirrels and other forest rodents will certainly keep your dogs busy. Even bigger mammals like raccoons, foxes, and deer can be seen in neighborhoods not far from Portland. Read on for our best tips to create a backyard space that feels like home to your critter visitors:
Install a Water Source
A common water source for your backyard that is simple to add and low-maintenance is a bird bath. Before you know it, you’ll have birds of all sizes fluttering and shimmying in their new private pool. Keep the water fresh with an aggressive hose spray now and then to keep the bath clean and discourage algae from growing. If you are feeling more ambitious, a pond is another water source that will fit into most backyards, provide water for many more animals than just birds, and can even be a home to a new backyard creature – fish! There are many possibilities for the design and construction of a pond – just be sure to consider predators if you decide to include fish. Whatever water source you choose to add to your backyard, consider a heated option to help your furry and feathered friends make it through the harsh Maine winters.
Offer a Variety of Food Options
Perhaps you’ve already noticed some of the plant life in your backyard is serving as food for wildlife. If not, there are many ways to add to the menu. Attract bees with single flower tops, or draw hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden with any of these flowers. If you’d like to see even more of hummingbirds and their fascinating social behaviors, get a hummingbird feeder. For other birds, there are many different types of seed you can buy. Think about what types of native birds you’d like to attract, and choose seed accordingly (e.g. suet is a great option for woodpeckers, and cardinals love seed mixes with lots of sunflower seeds). Don’t forget to think about the feeder type, too! For the four-legged wildlife, it’s best for both you and the animals to let them find their own food and keep them from becoming too accustomed to humans.
Don’t Forget About Shelter
Most animals will be just fine making their own homes, but it can be a positive experience to give some of them a helping hand. Bird houses can vary greatly, from multi-families down to single bedroom homes! Who knew our feathered friends could be as picky as us? Like the seed and feeder type, choose a bird house with a specific species in mind. A more natural option to provide shelter is to plant a tree in your yard, which can serve as a home for more than just birds. Bigger, older trees can serve as an animal hotel! Avians and mammals alike can shack up in the trunk and branches, and even underground among the roots. Pick a spot on your property that has ample room for your new tree to grow both up and out to the sides, and watch it come alive as a part of your backyard ecosystem.
Officially welcoming wildlife to your backyard can range from an afternoon project to a week-long endeavor. It all depends on what you want: Do you want to take on DIY projects? How elaborate do you want your water source to be? What type of wildlife are you trying to attract? A surefire way to start is with the simple bird trifecta of a bath, feeder, and house. These three small additions will completely transform your backyard into a flurry of chirping, colorful activity that is fun for the whole family.
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