A wildlife habitat provides the four essential elements for wildlife to live in harmony with humans: food, water, shelter and places to raise a family. These elements may be present naturally or provided by the homeowner.
For example, to attract birds: put up a nectar feeder, plant flowers, shrubs or trees that provide seeds, berries or nuts. Place a shallow bowl in a protected place and provide fresh water every few days or install a small pond or other water feature. Put up a bird house, leave (or create) a snag that birds nest in. Provide plants that offer shelter from predators. All of these things can be as pleasing to you as they are to visiting birds.
Single and multi-family residences, businesses, schools and demonstration gardens are individually certified to create a community that makes a place for wildlife.
You will be protecting and enjoying wildlife in your backyard. One person does make a difference. Camano Island was nationally certified with 500 yards; more yards have since been certified. As more and more of your neighbors certify their yards, we create safe wildlife corridors. Additionally, you will become a visible member of a network of thousands of people who share their living space with the wildlife in yards and communities. Your backyard can be a work in progress, as small as a deck or multiple acres.Garden for Wildlife website. Information about being a neighborhood coordinator and applications are also available from the community wildlife habitat committee:
Members of the steering committee will be happy to offer assistance and provide printed information and resource lists. Also Friends of Camano Island Parks (FOCIP) sponsors regular educational seminars on the third Wednesday of each month. These are held at the Camano Center, 141 E Camano Drive at 7 PM. Past topics have included sustainable gardening, attracting and identifying butterflies, use and identification of native plants and birding on Camano. Also visit our demonstration gardens at Four Springs Lake Preserve, Camano Senior and Community Center, Elger Bay School, and the Madrona-Vista Fire Station.
“Our backyards are our private spaces. They are our pieces of the world. But a backyard is also part of a larger landscape we share with our community and with plants and wildlife. The health and well being of all of us depends on having a clean, healthy, sustainable place to live. How we take care of our yards and properties – the water and other resources we use, the fertilizer and pesticides we apply, the type of plants and landscape features we choose impacts the health and quality of our living space, as well as that of our human and wildlife neighbors. Healthier yards for our families mean healthier neighborhoods for our community, and healthier habitats for all living things.” Seattle Audubon Society, Gardening for Life.
Sustainable gardening practices can help us manage our properties in a way that improves the health of the soil, air, water and habitat for all of us.
Water quality and conservation: grouping plants with like water needs, using soaker hose for irrigation, mulching, reducing erosion and lawn areas, eliminating chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
Soil conservation: mulching, composting, reducing erosion, eliminating chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
Controlling exotic species: removing invasive plants, monitoring nesting boxes, keeping your cat indoors, restoring native plants.
Organic practices: eliminating chemical pesticides and fertilizers, encouraging pest predators (integrated pest management), composting.
Native plants are defined as those plants that existed on the island before the arrival of Europeans. Because plants and wildlife have evolved together, they are adapted to our local conditions. Native plants will provide the best overall food sources for wildlife, while generally requiring less fertilizer, less water, and less effort to control pests. Also native plants may support 10 to 50 times more species of wildlife than non-native plants.
No. Divide your yard into zones. The zone nearest the house can be all exotics or a mixture of natives and exotics. As you move away from the house, become a little “wilder” with more native plants. If you have a large property, you can have multiple zones with the perimeter being a totally wild area.
The Salal Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society has a sale near the end of April at the demonstration garden on Memorial
Highway in Mt.
Vernon. The Snohomish Conservation District has a sale
the first weekend in March at the fairgrounds in
Monroe. Local nurseries carry a variety of native
plants and many are increasing their inventory of native plants. Orchard's Nursery in Stanwood has a special section highlighting native plants. Let them and other nurseries in the area know of your interest in purchasing plants that support wildlife and thank them for their support.