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Please send your question regarding habitat development and gardening for birds to gardening@birdzilla.com. We'll answer as many as we can and post selected answers here.

Q. Wildlife doesn't just randomly occur in a given area; it is there in response to habitat which meets its needs. What are the four essential elements of a wildlife habitat, including for birds?
DF - Atlanta, GA

A. Food, water, cover (protection from weather and predators) and space to raise a family.

Tom Patrick is president of the Windstar Wildlife Institute. Tom's company provides training and certification in wildlife habitat development programs. Thanks to Tom and some of his Certified Wildlife Habitat Naturalists for answering the questions.

Q. Feeders are used to supplement the foods provided by trees, shrubs, flowers, crops in food plots, vines and ground covers. What are the different types of feeders?
TR - LA, CA.

A. Cylindrical, hopper, suet, hummingbird, squirrel and fruit.

 

Ohio Plants for Wildlife Habitat & Conservation Landscaping
Do you enjoy observing nature...hearing the song of the chickadee...watching hummingbirds fill up on nectar from trumpet vines...listening to the chattering of squirrels...seeing the beauty and grace of a monarch butterfly perched on a milkweed... experiencing the antics of a Mockingbird...the cooing of the Mourning Doves...the swiftness of the Cottontail...and the brilliance of a Cardinal or Baltimore Oriole?

If the answer is "yes", you'll probably want to landscape your property for wildlife so you can experience even more from Mother Nature by attracting more wildlife to your property.

Wildlife doesn't just randomly appear in a given area. It is there because of favorable habitat. The essential elements that you must provide in your habitat are food, water, cover and a place to raise a family. To attract the most wildlife, you need native trees, shrubs, groundcover, vines and wildflowers, many of which will provide food and shelter.

Native or indigenous plants naturally occur in the region in which they evolved. They are adapted to local soil, rainfall and temperature conditions, and have developed natural defenses to many insects and diseases. Because of these traits, native plants will grow with minimal use of water, fertilizers and pesticides. Wildlife species evolve with plants; therefore, they use native plant communities as their habitat. Using native plants helps preserve the balance and beauty of natural ecosystems.

Remember the function served by plants and structures is more important than their appearance. In other words, don't base your planting decisions solely on what a plant looks like. Following are WindStar Wildlife Institute's plant recommendations for wildlife habitats in Ohio.

Trees
Red and Sugar Maple; River Birch; Hornbeam; Shagbark Hickory; Hackbery; Redbud; Flowering Dogwood; Cockspur and Dotted Hawthorn; Persimmon; American Holly; Black Walnut; Eastern Red Cedar; Sweet Gum; Black Gum; Eastern White, Shortleaf, Pitch and Virginia Pine; Sycamore; Wild Plum; Pin Cherry; White, Scarlet, Pin, Willow and Red Oak; Sassafras; American Linden; Eastern Hemlock

Shrubs
Downey Serviceberry; New Jersey Tea; Pogoda, Swamp, Silky and Red-osier Dogwood; Washington Hawthrorn; Bush Honeysuckle; Box Huckleberry; Winterberry; Spicebush; Chokecherry; Fragrant and Smooth Sumac; Prickly Gooseberry; Thimbleberry; Elderberry; Blueberry; Witherod Viburnum; Arrowwood

Wildflowers
Sweet Flag; White Baneberry; Thimbleweed; Columbine; Jack-in-the-pulpit; New England, White and Frost Aster; Butterfly Weed; Blue Wild Indigo; Turtlehead; Maryland Golden Aster; Tall Coreopsis; Dutchman's Breeches; Shooting Star; Joe-pye Weed; Ox-eye Sunflower; Swamp Rose Mallow; Wood Lily; Cardinal Flower; Great Blue Lobelia; Wild Lupine; Virginia Bluebells; Partridge Berry; Beebalm; Wild Bergamot; Yellow Poind Lily; Beardtongue; Sweet William; Summer and Creeping Phlox; Solomon's Seal; Black-eyed Susan; Cut-leaf Coneflower; Golden Ragwort; Fire Pink; Blue-stemmed, Gray and Showy Goldenrod; Foam Flower; Virginia Spiderwort; Blue Verbena; Common Blue and Birdsfoot Violet

Vines
Virginia Creeper; American Bittersweet; Virgin's Bower; Coral Honeysuckle; Passionflower; Cross Vine

Grasses
Indiangrass; Little and Big Bluestem; Sideoats Grama, Broomsedge, Switchgrass, Bluejoint; Bottlebrush; Prairie Cordgrass; Tall Dropseed

Ohio's topography consists of rolling plains for the most part. In the north, Ohio borders Lake Erie. The Lake Erie Plains, part of the Great Lakes Plains, extend southward from the lake into Ohio. The Allegheny Plateau is located in the east. The Central or Till Plains cover the western portion of the state. The Appalachian or Allegheny Plateau covers the eastern half of Ohio, south of the Lake Erie Plains. The northern part of the Appalachian Plateau consists of rolling hills and valleys. The southern two thirds of the Appalachian Plateau consists of steep hills and valleys and is the most rugged area in the state. The Bluegrass Region consists of hilly and gently rolling land. The Ohio shoreline lines 312 miles of Lake Erie.The Ohio Native Plant Society can provide lists of plants for a specific region.

For more information on improving your wildlife habitat, visit the WindStar Wildlife Institute web site. On the web site, you can also apply to certify your property as a wildlife habitat, register for the "Certified Wildlife Habitat Naturalist e-Learning course, become a member and sign up for the FREE WindStar Wildlife Garden Weekly e-mail newsletter.


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