April 16, 2010, Newsletter Issue #162: Create a Backyard Fountain Nature Habitat

Tip of the Week

Water fountain habitats attract a variety of birds and butterflies and delight nature lovers year-round. A well-planned backyard water fountain nature sanctuary provides the essential elements for a healthy sustainable wildlife habitat and may also earn distinction as a Certified Wildlife Habitat. Here are five elements required by the National Wildlife Federation to attract wildlife and qualify for habitat certification:

Water Sources: Birds and butterflies need a source of clean water. A shallow and sparkling backyard birdbath fountain offers aerated, moving water attracting winged visitors and providing soothing background for relaxation and observation. Food Sources: Bird and butterflies visit a backyard garden in search of edible plants, seeds, fruits, berries and nectar that are native to your area. Butterflies are particularly attracted to plants with red, pink, orange, yellow and purple blooms. Include “host plants” as larval food sources. Visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center for lists of native plants by region and state. Place supplemental food in bird feeders when natural food is scarce and for added visual appeal in your backyard fountain habitat. Places for Cover: Birds and butterflies need safe and secure places to rest. Tree and shrubs provide natural resting spots. Avoid dense undergrowth around the fountain that might conceal predators like cats and raccoons. Places to Raise Young: Bird houses and nesting boxes encourage making your backyard a home. Monitor nesting boxes and shrubs to discourage unwelcome guests that might harm birds and butterflies.
Sustainable Gardening: Avoid using herbicides and pesticides that contain harmful chemicals and contaminate water fountains. Use chemical-free fertilizer, natural mulch and include a source of water like sprinkler or misting garden hose.

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