Naturalist’s Notebook: Food, Water, Shelter, and a Place to Raise Young

My last blog post was about wildlife habitats. A habitat is where an animal lives. A habitat needs four things: food, water, shelter and a place to raise their young. 

In yesterday’s Naturalist’s Notebook, I discussed the first requirement—food. In your yard you can add bird feeders, plants for caterpillars to eat, or flowers that will provide nectar for bees and butterflies.

Water is a big deal! All animals, including people, need water. It is an easy thing to add to any yard, no matter how large or small. A birdbath will work quite nicely, and I’ve included a photo of one of my bird baths. Be sure to clean it occasionally and to add water when it gets low. Birds, squirrels, and even honeybees and butterflies will visit. I am lucky to have space, so I also have a small plastic swimming pool where I plan to raise tadpoles or maybe a small fish or two, which will help control mosquitoes. If you live near a pond, stream, or lake, that is an even better water source!

Shelter, or cover, and a place to raise youngsters are the last two things all your animal neighbors need. They are closely linked. You might think they would be the hardest things to provide, especially if your yard is very tiny or if you live in an apartment.

I’ve supplied two photos that prove animals may move VERY close to you when looking for shelter and a place to raise their young. 

An old metal Pepsi-Cola bottle carrier sits on a high shelf on my front porch. It has been claimed by a small bird called a Carolina Wren. This busy little bird has completely filled it with twigs, grass, and stems to make a comfy nest. It found shelter from rain, storms, and predators, as well as a nice place to raise babies. Wrens sometimes nest in hanging flower baskets on apartment balconies, and one year they used an old boot in my garage!

Photo 2 shows an Eastern Phoebe (pronounced fee-bee) nest on top of a motion sensor light under the eve of my roof. It is only 20 feet from our front door. Again, this location gives them shelter from the elements, as well as a nice sturdy spot for their nest. Phoebe’s belong to the flycatcher family, so they will help eat insects around the house. I just hope they don’t eat too many of our butterflies!

Since my property is large and wooded, I also added some photos of other forms of shelter. One shows a bird feeder with bushes very close. This is cover where small birds can hide from predators.

One picture shows fallen trees in the woods. They provide hiding places for insects, millipedes, salamanders, chipmunks, snakes, and many other creatures. 

The last one is a brush pile. I decided this is a good way to provide shelter for birds, rabbits, and many other creatures. 

Bird boxes are used by several birds for their nesting needs. I put two up last week. Within one hour, Eastern Bluebirds moved into one, and Carolina Chickadees claimed the other. Perhaps your mom or dad can help you put one in your yard. You can keep up with what happens in your nature journal.

It is going to be an interesting season at Mr. Bill’s place, and I hope at yours too! Keep up with your nature journaling, and enjoy your time outdoors.

Mr. Bill 

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