Habitat certification in Shoreline

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

From Boni Biery, Shoreline's Community Wildlife Habitat Team Coordinator

More and more people are getting their yards certified as “Wildlife Habitats” through the National Wildlife Federation. The certification requirements are focused on providing the basic things that birds need to be happy and healthy: food, water, shelter and a place to raise young.

They are the same things that everything needs, so by taking care of birds, it helps out all the other local wildlife too.

Having water nearby is critical. Birds aren’t fussy; an old plant saucer with rainwater is fine. The water just needs to be changed a couple of times a week to keep mosquito larvae from growing. If you want birds in your yard, water is the single most important invitation.

The bird in the picture is a Spotted Towhee and generally eat seeds, but in the spring and early summer they like to have insect protein to feed growing nestlings. When people reduce pesticide use, it lets the insects survive for birds to eat. It also means the seeds they eat and shrubs they nest in aren’t poisonous.

Ground cover is important to birds like Towhees because they are ground nesters and need a place to hide from predatory birds, rodents and cats while they wait for eggs to hatch and nestlings to take flight. Salal (pictured) is particularly good. It’s a broadleaved evergreen that has just the right amount of foliage to protect birds from the weather all year ‘round.

This Towhee has found a house with a lot of dense, native ground cover so now she returns every spring. Even though they are really pretty shy, sometimes they can be seen hopping back and forth in a little “scratch for seeds” dance.

If you would like birds in your yard, make sure you have clean water, good cover and some places to nest,

To see what others have done and learn from local experts, mark your calendar for “WOWTA” the “Where Our Wild Things Are” Habitat Tour this summer on July 10.

Certify your yard with three agencies. The application is online.

Spotted Towhee photo courtesy of Christine Southwick
Salal from Queen Charlotte Islands, BC


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