Sunday, September 6, 2009
My place is a Certified Wildlife Habitat. When I first signed up with the National Wildlife Federation, I didn't think it would make much difference in the amount of wildlife I see. I was wrong. Its the water.
I have a pond with enough length that the bats can swoop and scoop. It contains a big rock for smaller animals, and a board to crawl out if something goes wrong.
Deer, raccoons, squirrels, foxes, skunks, and birds are frequent visitors. Cougars and coyotes come occasionally.
For lizards, a shallow pot bottom with a few rocks works well. They require a shallow vessel without slippery sides, otherwise they drink and drown.
I leave a brush pile and long grasses along the fences here and there so quail and small critters can hide as they move from one place to another.
Western bluebirds have a special house on my greenhouse. I was home in the spring and saw it full. My butterfly house has yet to surprise me.
I had no idea how thirsty the animals are in this hot climate and I appreciate their presence on my property. We no longer spray, not even for ants. We use diatomaceous earth if they get pesty.
When I first signed up, I saw bag worms in my walnut tree and I thought about getting out the spray. Soon, a cyclone of wasps broke through the bag and ate every last worm.
The squirrels increased in such numbers that I could not harvest one walnut. They got every last one from two trees. I tried coyote pee in dog hair, rubber snakes in the trees, strategically placed owls, (which worked wonders to keep the jays out of my almonds and peaches) but the squirrels kept a'coming. Finally, after about three years, the hawks came in and killed most of the squirrels. Nature asserts itself when you give it a chance.
To create a wildlife habitat you promise not to use insecticides, herbicides and to provide water for the critters.
I don't get to see the critters very often and when they come, by the time you get out the camera, they flit away. Deer are the least shy and often come around during the day. Every now and then....you get a decent shot.