With the coldest months of the year approaching in much of the Country, many of the vulnerable wildlife inhabitants in your neighborhood will struggle to survive. There are some simple steps you can take to give them a fighting chance.
1. Leave Something in your Yard: Try to ignore your need to clean up everything that has fallen or died in your yard. Make some piles of leaves for a warm spot for wildlife to hunker down. They also make great organic compost come spring, just be very cautious if you decide to turn the pile because you never know who is bedding down in there.
2. Feed with Flowers: Leave your dead flowers intact and cut them down in the spring instead. This allows much needed food for the foraging birds.
3. Get Piling: Compile a few sections of brush with sticks and twigs to provide shelter for many different types of animals, like bunnies, insects,chipmunks, ground nesting birds and amphibians. Start with a layer of larger limbs and stack branches loosely, adding vegetation and leaves on top to create nooks and crannies of various sizes.
4. Provide a water source: This is one of the most important things you can provide because the normal water sources may dry up or freeze over during the winter months, this effort alone could mean the difference between life and death. This will take a little more effort because you may have to check and change this everyday to ensure it does not freeze. You can invest in a water heating system for your birdbath however, to eliminate the need to check it daily.
5. Supply food sources: For the birds squirrels and chipmunks you can put out nuts and a variety of birdseed, fruits and also the ever important suet blocks to help them insulate with extra fat. I live on several acres and although feeding other wildlife is controversial, I do provide food for the carnivorous animals as well. We waste very little food in our house and any scraps of raw or cooked foods go out to the back of our property for the wildlife to enjoy, and enjoy it they do, or they go into the compost bin. I have witnessed foxes, opossums, skunks, feral cats and raccoons all enjoying the scraps together on our property in the still of the night.( we have a wildlife camera to catch the action). We also have what we call our “bird of prey” bar. Most of our raw meat scraps and cheap cuts of raw meat I purchase specifically as feed, go out on the bar which sits about 6 feet off the ground near a tree (see photo).
I typically put food out a couple times a week especially during the winter months. We have a red tailed hawk couple that has blessed us by making our home theirs as well, and everyday that we put food out for them they quickly swoop down and appreciate their free meal. If you decide you want to put food scraps out for your carnivorous and scavenging friends, please be considerate of your human neighbors and be sure you do it in an area that will not conflict with their living areas or safety.
This winter take into consideration the very rough road our wild neighbors must travel to survive every winter and maybe adapt some or all of the suggestions here or research some suggestions for wildlife that may be specific to your area.