Friday, May 23, 2008

Wildlife in Your Own Backyard

A patron contacted us recently about how she could turn her garden into a National Wildlife Habitat. I was intrigued; I have recently acquired a love of gardening and had no idea one could turn their garden into a habitat. With a few clicks of a mouse, I found all of the information she needed and passed it on to her.

Building your own National Wildlife Habitat is surprisingly easy and doesn’t even require a garden. In fact, you could have your own refuge on your apartment balcony. All you need to do is provide food and water, make a place where animals can take cover and raise young, and adhere to sustainable gardening practices. This could be as simple as setting up a birdfeeder, birdhouse, birdbath, and a couple of plants.

Once you’ve certified your refuge, there are all kinds of perks such as a yearly membership to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), a subscription to National Wildlife magazine, a personalized certificate recognizing your habitat, and even a yard sign to proclaim your habitat to the neighborhood (additional fee is required). Besides the perks provided by the NWF, you will also experience the joys of watching living creatures hanging out in your garden. Not to mention the great service you do to the environment by helping to restore and revitalize Austin’s natural ecosystems and committing yourself to sustainable gardening practices.

Below is the website where you can find more information and apply for habitat status, as well as just a small sampling of the many great books Austin Public Library has to get your garden started:

National Wildlife Federation Website

Attracting birds, butterflies, and other backyard wildlife

Bird and butterfly gardens

Bringing nature home: how native plants sustain wildlife in our gardens

Gardens for birds: hummingbirds & butterflies

Garden guide for Austin & vicinity

Natural gardening for birds: the bird-friendly backyard: simple ways to create a bird haven

Natural gardening in small spaces

Texas gardening the natural way: the complete handbook

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