Downeast Audubon Yarding Workshop

Tips for supporting wildlife in your yard

Downeast Audubon’s director, Leslie Clapp gave a tour of her extensive gardens to show ways that we may support wildlife in our yards, from the ground up to the canopy.

  • Grow less lawn.
  • See what you have by growing out your lawn, and work with it.
  • Plant a variety of plant species with a succession of bloom and fruit time.
  • Layering: think about planting layers of perennials, shrubs trees and a canopy.
  • Keep dead trees if they are in a safe place to stand.
  • Keep woody trimmings and use them by building wood and brush piles to provide cover for small shy birds; you can make them beautiful and attract sparrows finches and cardinals.
  • Growing thickets like rose or forsythia attract catbirds
  • Use mulch! Maintains moisture in the ground, holds back weeds and it breaks down every year. Nothing organic leaves the property. If the material is diseased or weedy, it goes to the back.
  • Put up windbreaks, especially in winter around feeders.
  • Provide birdhouses and feeders.
  • Keep clean water available, especially in drought conditions. This can be done in birdbaths or as a recirculating stream.
  • Plant native plants and maintain an open field meadow of perennials. Wildlife has evolved with native plants. Some people complain about native plants getting ‘buggy’, but this is good because the bugs feed the birds!
  • Make and use compost
  • Leave plants standing through the winter. Stop deadheading in mid September at the latest so the plants can produce seed to feed the birds.
  • Keep your cats indoors.
  • Mowing is necessary to keep an open field in Maine. Don’t mow in the summer! It takes food away from wildlife. Mow late, in November and alternate parts of the meadow so that there are sections left standing. Goldenrod gauls, for example, are good winter food for woodpeckers.

 

Canadian Ry Grass in the meadow is showy and provides good nourishment for birds
Squirrel grass is a showy native grass which grows a bit lower
Echinacia purpurea is native to the prairie, provide nourishing seed for birds and is medicinal for humans.
Native high bush blueberries are nutritious for birds and tasty for humans
Millet is the foundation of many bird seed mixes, but grows beautifully if you leave it standing in the garden. The grains are easy to harvest and make a good porridge too.
Native button bush produces an interesting bloom
Ornamental Raspberry is a beautiful native with very showy flowers. The fruit is edible for humans, tho it is quite small. Birds love to eat it in the protection of the large foliage.
The Sargent crabapple may be grown as a tree or as a shrub as shown here. In shrub form it offers great protection for birds. Water birds especially love this one with protection branching out over the pond.
The fruit from a Sargent crabapple is a perfect size for birds. If the fruit is too large, they can’t eat it!
Tropical looking Staghorn Sumac is indeed related to the tropical family of Cashews. The pioneer plant shows vibrant color in the fall and the fruit makes for a nourishing tea. The birds go crazy over the seeds.
Native filbert or hazelnut is a delicacy for humans and rich in nutrients for local wildlife.
Mountain Ash produces beautiful fruit and may encourage some types of birds to stay over the winter in years that it produces in abundance.

 

Published by

Lee Lee

Lee Lee is a visual artist who integrates a collaborative, social practice oriented approach in her practice. Her paintings may be viewed at www.Lee-Lee.com & collaborations at www.virtualvoices.org

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