May Is Garden For Wildlife Month

Make your backyard a wildlife oasis

04-29-2013 // Christina Batcheler and Mary Price
Hummingbird

From bird watchers to butterfly lovers, people across the country are transforming their gardens into havens for wildlife in celebration of National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife Month and its Certified Wildlife Habitat™ program.

“May is a wonderful time to get gardening and a great time to attract some of nature’s most beautiful creatures to your yard,” said David Mizejewski, Naturalist and Personality for the National Wildlife Federation. “Taking simple steps in your garden to encourage wildlife is not only personally rewarding it also provides myriad benefits to animals and ecosystems.”

This year’s Garden for Wildlife Month’s feature species is the hummingbird, which was the winner of a recent online survey to select this year’s feature animal. Hummingbirds are a prime example of the beauty one can expect to see as a result of careful planting. Since hummingbirds feed on nectar from flowers, a great start could be adding native plants with red, tubular flowers; however, you can also set up a hummingbird feeder using the following tips:

  • Dissolve one part white sugar in four parts hot water.
  • Boil the water if you plan to store the nectar in the refrigerator.
  • Never use honey, which ferments easily, or artificial sweeteners, which have no food value for birds. Red food coloring is not recommended as it may be harmful to birds.
  • Let the solution cool to room temperature before putting it in your feeder. You can store homemade nectar for up to a week in the refrigerator.
  • Once you fill your feeder, don't forget to empty, rinse and refill your feeder every two to three days (especially in warm weather) to prevent spoiling. This ensures that hummingbirds won't become sick from drinking bad nectar.

By simply providing food, water, cover, and shelter for wildlife to raise their young you can reap the benefits of a robust natural oasis and sign up to be officially certified by NWF. This approach to gardening not only nurtures wildlife, it also provides important benefits for your own home including the need for less water, and a low-maintenance landscape.

The Certified Wildlife Habitat program is fun and easy and comes with the added bonuses of a personalized certificate, a subscription to our e-newsletter Wildlife Online—Habitats Edition, a year membership in NWF including a subscription to National Wildlife magazine and a 10% discount on NWF catalog merchandise, and more.

The National Wildlife Federation has also pledged to plant a tree for every Certified Wildlife Habitat during the month of May to honor its garden supporters!

For more information about Garden for Wildlife Month, gardening tips, resources, and certifying a Wildlife Habitat with NWF, please go to: www.nwf.org/gardenforwildlife.

For more National Wildlife Federation news, visit: www.nwf.org/news.

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