These North Shore gardeners are giving back to their beautiful Hill Country environment by creating space to share with our furred, feathered and, yes, scaled friends.
Wildlife watching is more than a momentary pleasure. Seeking wildlife can bring you refreshment of body and mind.
It can sharpen your senses, increase our outdoor skills, teach you about relationships of living things to the earth.
Ultimately, it can give you a spiritual bond with all life and all nature.
~ National Park Service
The 4 Essentials
A backyard wildlife habitat needs only 4 things-
A place to rear young
Food In a wildlife garden food is supplied in the form of seeds, berries and nectar.
Seeds can come from trees such as acorns or grasses like Little bluestem or various muhly grasses. Pigeonberry, American beautyberry and Texas barberry are much loved by birds.
By using plants native to the area you will provide migrating species with the foods they expect to find and at the right time of the year. Native plants will also attract wildlife to your yard more quickly than exotics which they won't recognize.
Butterfly nectar plants are the salvias, sages, Trumpet honeysuckle, Cross vine, verbenas, cosmos and zinnias.
Kidneybush, Cherry Laurel, Mexican buckeye, yucca and Flame acanthus will attract valuable pollinators like bees, moths, and Black-chinned hummingbirds.
You can find plant suggestions for specific animals on the interactive Plant Database or Central Texas Butterfly Gardening.
Shelter can be high in an oak tree for cardinals and jays or low (thick cedar brush) for mockingbirds and cedar waxwings. Wax myrtle and Yaupon holly provide not only shelter but food in the form of berries.
Butterflies, lizards and insects will find shelter in dry stacked stone. Butterflies, particularly, need shelter from winds.
A log or brush pile can give respite to small birds, mammals and reptiles. A tree with cavities or, ideally, a snag or dead tree is a paradise for small birds such as wrens or titmice. Owls and woodpeckers will quickly make a home in this type of location.
Water is probably the most important element needed in the Hill Country. A permanent water fixture such as a pond or fountain is ideal, but there are less costly and labor intensive ways of enticing wildlife.
Birds are especially attracted to the sound of moving water. Arranging a dripper over a bird bath will quickly bring in bathers. You can use a 1/4 inch drip hose or simply suspend a liter bottle over the bird bath. Poke a pin hole in the bottom and leave the cap ajar so that the water slowly drips.
Hummingbirds love to fly through mist so a mister, available through bird supply or hardware stores, will bring an element of fun to your yard.
Toad houses have become popular but broken flower pots will do the trick, especially if placed near that dripper you're using.
A Place to Rear Young
Most of the elements which provide shelter will also provide a place for nesting. In addition you may want to add birdhouses or nesting ledges.
The placement of these is important, not all birds will nest at the same altitude or in the same space. Please consult some of the links provided here or on our Links page. Try the Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program, Texas Wildscapes, enature or Stokes' Birds at Home.