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Wildlife Camping in Our Backyards
This summer, National Wildlife Federation is celebrating our annual Great American Campout. Camping is a great opportunity to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and maybe even spot some wildlife. If you camp in wilderness areas, you might get lucky and spot some large wild animals. But did you know that you can still see or hear wildlife even if you camp closer to home?
Your own backyard can be home to an pretty amazing diversity of wildlife, especially if you create a wildlife-friendly landscape with our Garden for Wildlife program. When you camp in your yard, you might glimpse the neighborhood fox, hear the trilling of noctural treefrogs, spot a giant silk moth, hear the hoot of an owl, or just have fun catching fireflies.
Pledge to camp with as part of the Great American Campout and then read on to find out how you can make your yard more inviting to local wildlife so they will “camp” in your yard with you this summer:
Roosting boxes offer a place for birds and other wildlife to hide out during the day and to sleep safe from predators at night. In the winter months, animals from bluebirds to flying squirrels are known to pile in roosting boxes with others of their kind to benefit from each other’s body heat. Install a roosting box and see what creatures use it to “camp out” in your yard.
Throughout the nation, populations of amphibians such as toads and frogs are rapidly declining due to threats such as habitat degradation, disease and invasive species. Over a half dozen toad species are federally listed as endangered. Making a toad abode is a quick and fun way to help toads camp and to provide temporary shelter. A toad house is a source of cover for amphibians and other small wildlife. Most amphibians come out at night so be on the lookout for them when you camp out.
One of the easiest ways to give wildlife such as rabbits, box turtles, and lizards a safe place to camp at night and throughout the day is by building a wildlife brush shelter in your yard. A brush shelter or brush pile is a great natural “tent” for wildlife like butterflies, foxes, or birds, to take cover in while they sleep. Brush shelters also provide an abundance of other activities for wildlife such as giving them sheltered places to find food, relax and sun themselves, and hide.
Bats can be found across the United States in a variety of habitats from forests to suburban areas. Habitat loss, pesticides and insecticides, as well as disease, threaten bats, and some species, such as the Indiana Bat and Gray Bat, are currently listed as endangered. A way to offer bats shelter in your yard is by building a bat house. A bat box is a source of cover for bats, who will “camp out” and sleep in it during the day.
Landscape with Native Plants
In general, a densely planted landscape is the biggest thing you can do to encourage wildlife to “camp” in your yard. Replacing lawns with native plants benefits many wildlife species from pollinators such as butterflies and hummingbirds to migratory songbirds. Planting a row of shrubs or even a prairie or meadow will offer a lot of hiding places for wildlife to sleep safely.
Along with setting up shelter or “tents” for wildlife in your yard, provide wildlife with food and water sources plus places to raise young to make your yard a NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat.