A Backyard That Beckons

Erin Conant

Urban development is happening all around us. As our city grows and we build more homes and businesses, native wildlife is often displaced. For some of us, this change is difficult to watch. But there are ways to recoup some of the natural habitat areas lost to progress and rebuild a practical, beautiful home for a variety of creatures.

Create Backyard Habitat

Creating your own backyard habitat begins with knowing what kind of wildlife you can attract. Birds, butterflies, bees, even frogs are examples of critters you could host. Familiarize yourself with the diverse group of wildlife that flock to our region, including birds, mammals, reptiles and insects such as the monarch butterfly. Attracting monarchs is easy if you include milkweed and some fall blooming plants that provide nectar. Equally important in meeting the needs of wildlife:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Shelter
  • Place to raise their young.

If you want to attract more birds, incorporate a birdbath for bathing and drinking, plant an American Beautyberry — it provides berries for wintertime foraging — and include native trees such as live oaks and Aleppo pine that provide year-round shelter and a place to nest. Imitating a Texas wildscape makes it easier and safer for birds, mammals and other wildlife to adapt.

Mitchell Lake Audubon Center and WaterSaver Lane at the San Antonio Botanical Garden feature living examples of backyard habitats that not only benefit wildlife, but are also less expensive and easier to maintain.

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