8 Tips for Attracting Wildlife to Your North Florida Backyard

In mid-April, an expedition team completing a three-year search for the recently declared extinct ivory-billed woodpecker in Louisiana yielded promising results.

The bird may have survived extinction! While it’s unlikely you’ll spot an ivory-billed woodpecker in your yard, chances are you’ve seen a similar-looking cousin, the pileated woodpecker, as well as many other birds and wildlife.

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The recent COVID outbreak, during which many people were working from home, provided plenty of backyard wildlife viewing opportunities. For my family, we are fortunate to live in a wooded area south of Tallahassee where deer and other wildlife are common.

Native food plants, bird feeders, hummingbird feeders, and birdbaths all attract wildlife, and our vegetable gardens are alluring too!

Recent highlights included watching a doe nurse a fawn and even hiding the fawn near our house, likely using our presence as protection from predators. Observing hummingbirds up close was always a pleasure, as was watching tall woodpeckers turn a dead pine tree into a condominium of nests.

Possums were nocturnal visitors, the usual suspects to trigger our outdoor motion lights, and the annual arrival of swallowtail kites was always something to celebrate. Birds and animals may not be rare species, but they are exciting to see nonetheless.

Here are some tips for attracting wildlife to your garden:

  • Seek professional advice to create a landscape plan of native plants and trees that feed birds and attract pollinators such as butterflies and bees. Look for a variety of plants that will bloom at different times of the year and be sure to include a few evergreens.
  • Allow certain areas of the yard to be “wild areas” and build brush piles that allow animals to rest and raise their young.
  • Birdbaths, fountains and ponds can provide vital water sources for wildlife.

  • Feeders, birdhouses and birdhouses can help our feathered friends. Seek advice on the type of species likely to be attracted to your garden. And many birds, as well as bats, eat lots of pesky mosquitoes and flies! Bat boxes are fine if placed near a permanent water source.
  • Seek to replace chemical pesticides with biological pest control methods.
  • Leave a few dead trees if possible to create food and shelter for some birds and animals.
  • Prevent pets from hunting or killing wild animals.
  • Place a wildlife bench or awning in the yard so you can enjoy your wild visitors! A remote hunting camera is also fun. Keep binoculars or a camera with a good telephoto lens handy so you can share the results.

COVID has reconnected many people with the natural world, often in their own backyards, and that must not let up now that conditions are improving. In addition, by planting a diverse range of native plants in our gardens, we can help ensure healthy populations of birds, wildlife, butterflies and bees.

Doug Alderson often writes about the dynamic and quirky nature of his home state of Florida. His latest book is a full-color hardback book on the rivers of Florida. Learn more about dougalderson.net.

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