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Backyard Wildlife

There’s something that every homeowner can do to reduce the negative effects of urbanization, and that is to make backyard spaces wildlife friendly.  This doesn’t mean that you have to grow a forest in your backyard though: not all wildlife needs this type of habitat.  And it doesn’t necessarily mean additional work for you.  Creating habitat can be as simple as planting native trees or having wildflowers in your garden.  In fact, allowing parts of your yard to naturalize can translate into less maintenance because there is less lawn to mow!

Backyard Wildlife
Viceroy Butterfly Photo: CLOCA

One issue that sometimes discourages homeowners from creating backyard habitats is that it looks less manicured. Although flawless spaces may be attractive to some, beauty is really in the eye of the beholder, and a backyard that is filled with the scent of wildflowers, the sound of songbirds and the colour of butterflies is beautiful too. 

Creating wildlife habitat is not limited to homeowners.  Apartment dwellers can create habitat niches on balconies, rooftops and in apartment greenspaces.  Have a look at the NWS website for tips on creating wildlife habitat in small spaces.

Use native plant species.  Native plants will appeal to local wildlife populations and will most likely survive the local climate.

Meet wildlife needs.  Water, food and shelter are all necessary components for wildlife to survive, and if your backyard can provide all of them then wildlife should thrive.

Avoid the use of pesticides.  Remember that insects are wildlife too and are a food source to a wide variety of birds and amphibians. 

Do some homework.  It is worth spending time researching the wildlife you wish to attract and what type of environment they prefer.

Be realistic.  Planting a flower in your garden to attract a particular butterfly doesn’t guarantee that it will come.  A lot depends on where you live.  Many species are sensitive to human disturbance and may never settle in your habitat.  Spend time observing the wildlife that is in your area and start by catering to their needs.  Who knows… in time some rarer species may follow.

Having wildlife habitat in your yard is an easy way to create a healthier community and environment, for families and wildlife alike.  If we all participate we can make a big difference.  For more information on how to create your own Backyard Wildlife Habitat, please visit the sites listed below:

Canadian Wildlife Federation

Audubon Society

National Wildlife Federation

Kingston Field Naturalists (Wildlife in my Backyard Series)

Ontario Field Naturalists (PDF file)


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