A well-planned landscape can offer many more uses than a person may first think. We often landscape with the goal of adding value to our homes through visual interest, property value, or spaces for enjoyment and socialization, but often don’t realize the value of wildlife in our landscapes. A landscape with wildlife can be a truly amazing thing. The solitude and beauty of the landscape is greatly enhanced when there’s an opportunity to watch wildlife using it too. Seeing a lone squirrel making the first footprints in the snow on a cold winter morning or the birds bathing with a fury of splashing adds great enjoyment for those who stop to watch and soak in the fun.
Animals have basic needs for food, water, and a place to call home. Birds find the enclosure of evergreen trees a perfect spot for winter protection, nesting, and food. Some evergreens to consider include Concolor Fir, Norway Spruce, Colorado Spruce, Black Hills Spruce, and Eastern Red Cedar.
In addition to providing protection and food, deciduous trees offer foraging sites where birds can hunt and peck for worms and insects. Maples, Oaks, and Hackberry’s are just a few trees that fulfill these needs for birds. Smaller ornamental trees like Crabapples and Serviceberry offer multiple seasons of interest for us and produce fruits that the birds enjoy.
Adding shrubs changes the scale of our landscape making it more intimate and personal, while many produce fruits great for attracting birds. Regent Serviceberry, Chokeberry, Dogwoods, Sumacs, Coralberry, Snowberry, and Viburnums are a small handful to choose from. Shrubs offer nearby protection for birds as they forage.
Bringing a few extra features in the landscape can make it a true wildlife oasis. The simple sound of water is highly attractive to birds. A small water fountain, birdbath, or even a waterfall provides birds with a place to play, bathe, and drink. Combining all of this with suet feeders, hopper feeders, and thistle feeders makes a great place for many different kinds of birds to gather. Incorporating Butterfly Bush, Black-eyed Susan, Milkweed, Lilacs, and more will attract butterflies adding another layer of wildlife interest. For more information on landscaping for wildlife interest check out these publications by University of Nebraska – Lincoln.