I just received a package from the National Wildlife Federation. My garden is now a Certified Wildlife Habitat, and I have a certificate (suitable for framing) to prove it. I heard about this program during a Charlotte Garden Club presentation last fall and finally decided to see if my garden qualified. It did.
There are four requirements that a garden must meet:
1. Provide food for wildlife. I fill a thistle feeder, a sunflower seed feeder and a suet cage. My neighborhood birds clearly approve, the squirrels clean up the dropped seeds, and the snakes are keeping down the vole population, for which I am grateful. Dogwoods for birds and squirrels and coneflowers for goldfinches are very popular.
2. Provide a water supply. I have two bird baths and a fountain that the goldfinches love. There is a small stream in the woods at the back of the garden that is making the croaking frogs happy.
3. Create cover for wildlife. The birds are constantly in and out of my trees and shrubs. A brush pile is in the woods. The rabbits and snakes are hiding somewhere.
4. Give wildlife a place to raise their young. The presence of new bunnies each spring is a good sign (but they do like some of my perennials). Nests are built each year in my arborvitae, tea olives, and jessamine. My wife keeps a seasonal wreath on the front door all year. A few springs ago a pair of finches built a nest in one and began to raise a family. We put up a ladder and invited the neighbor kids to watch the progress from eggs to hatchlings to fledgelings. We couldn’t use the front door for several weeks and put up a sign to caution visitors to avoid disturbing the finches. It was a joy to watch the fledgelings leave…in several ways. It wasn’t a planned nesting box, but it satisfied those finches.
If you think your garden can meet those requirements, visit http://www.nwf.org/How-to-Help/Garden-for-Wildlife/Create-a-Habitat.aspx to learn more and submit your application.