Birds, Bees, Butterflies, Bats…and lizards.  Ok.  So I was hoping I could start with all ‘B’ words, but those darn lizards just wouldn’t cooperate.

Would you like to attract more wildlife to your yard? As promised in my previous post, I am going to help you do just that!

There are a few basics that are the most important when attracting wildlife to your garden. Let’s talk about them, shall we?

Provide Food

Costa's Hummingbird

Photo of Costa's Hummingbird by Jon Sullivan. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.

Everyone needs to eat! Probably the most important thing you can do for wildlife is to provide food sources with a variety of plants, especially native plants. Our native wildlife has adapted to live and thrive off of our native plant species. Many non-native wildlife like pigeons and starlings have adapted to live off of non-native plant species like Oleanders, Privet, and African Sumac to name a few. But our native wildlife has a much more refined palette. We can help them by choosing plants that are suited for them.


Here are a few examples:

I’ll go over more plants that are specifically good at attracting particular wildlife types in future posts.  The main thing you need to know is that plant volume and plant type play an important role in which critters come to your yard. Natives that offer seeds, nectar, pollen, and other food sources are very important.[divider_padding]

Give Them Water

Photo by Karen Tucker. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.

A little goes along way.  Something as simple as a single irrigation bubbler for the animals to sip from will be enough to bring them around. Water is scarce in our region, so they will search it out and take what they can get. Butterflies love wet soil which they will gather and sip minerals from (this is called Puddling). Birds do enjoy enough water to splash around and take a bath in, but that is more of a luxury than a necessity. However, it is awfully fun to watch them bathe.[divider_padding]

Provide Shelter

This is where plant density and plant form comes into play again. Wildlife needs to feel secure in their surroundings. Giving them places to take cover will increase the likelihood that they will stick around. Plants whose branches and leaves hug the ground, like Flat-top Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) and Deergrass (Muhlenbergia rigens), are very useful to lizards and quail because they can hide under them.  Prickly pear (Opuntia sp.) offers good cover as well, especially with all of it’s spines. Certain native birds like Cactus Wren and Curve-billed Thrashers prefer to raise their young in the midst of a fortress of thorns, like the ones that Cholla varieties (Cylindroptunia sp.) provide.  [divider_padding]
Solitary Bee House

Photo by Robert Engelhardt. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.

You can also construct shelter for  animals. Birdhouses can be a good solution when created with a certain species needs in mind. And make sure to clean them out at least once a year to prevent mites and other diseases from spreading. Bee houses are wonderful too. Here are some instructions from Sarah Peebles for building your own. The National Wildlife Federation also gives some good instructions for building a Bat House.

Stay tuned for more good information about Backyard Habitat and Wildlife Gardens! [divider_padding]