Wildlife Watching Without Reserve

Guest Author

San Antonio boasts many great spots for wildlife watching, such as Mitchell Lake, Friedrich Wilderness Park and Government Canyon. What if you could create that kind of back-to-nature experience right in your own backyard?

Plan your own small-scale nature reserve by limiting your lawn. Large, expansive lawns displace other diverse native habitats that are desirable to wildlife and provide little food or coverage for animals. Consider removing small portions of turf and replacing it with wildflower seeds or groundcover.

You can also:

  • Plant small vegetative beds together in a group. This reduces the open area small critters have to cross to find shelter.
  • Offer vertical layering by planting shrubs and plants at different levels. Sparrows and thrashers spend their lives close to the ground foraging, so ground cover is the perfect choice for them. Vireos and cardinals hang out 3 to 10 feet off the ground in shrubs, while bluebirds and chickadees love high branches.
  • Create denning and nesting opportunities for birds by not pruning bare branches from trees and shrubs right away. The woody stems provide cover and respite from the wind in the winter.

Providing a water source of any kind is essential, especially in the winter. Bird baths can be placed at different levels as well. You don’t have to buy a new bird bath — just repurpose an old dish or container. But avoid placing bird baths underneath a bird feeder as it will get dirty with food and droppings.

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