Go Wild with Wild Yards - West Virginia


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Go Wild with Wild Yards - West Virginia

  1. 1. Go Wild! pond we created attracts many wood frogs in early spring,” she adds. “Even our grandchildren have With Wild Yards benefited from seeing nature up close with the diversity we have at- tracted.” This program, first established in 1997, has certified over 130 Wild Yards throughout West Vir- ginia. One doesn’t have to have a large piece of land to become certi- fied. You may have a farm, or have a house on a city lot or be an apart- ment dweller with lots of creativity. To become a Wild Yards participant you need to provide the basic needs of wildlife. The specific aspects of a Wild Yard that are necessary to attract and maintain wildlife include shelter, water, food and space. Shelter can be provided in many different ways. Some examples are: providing a nest box for birds; creating an unmowed area planted with warm season grasses to provide cover for ground birds; leaving a brush pile to create habitat for small mammals, rabbits, box turtles or garter snakes; or planting evergreen trees to provide winter cover for a number of species. NRCS Photo Water is crucial to wildlife. You may have a great source of water already present, such as a nearby stream or pond. If you don’t have aBy Rose Sullivan 1998, being involved with the Wild nearby source, providing a bird bathA re you someone who is in- Yards program has resulted in enjoy- or creating a small pond – perhaps a terested in attracting wildlife ing wildlife more closely. water garden – may be a wonderful to your yard? Do you have “One of the striking differences way to improve backyard habitat.a desire to create a habitat that is in our yard is the amount of birds Food comes in a variety ofrich in diversity and supports plants that we now have coming through,” forms. Putting up bird and wildlifeand animals native to West Virginia? Mary Ann says. “We planted spruce feeders can be beneficial, but plant-Maybe you already have a great trees that have created more win- ing native vegetation as a source ofplace for wildlife in your yard but ter cover and attract a whole range food for animals is one of the bestwould like to attract specific types of birds, including woodpeckers, ways to ensure the diversity and sus-of wildlife, like butterflies, amphib- chickadees, finches and a variety tainability of West Virginia wildlife.ians or songbirds. If so, the West of songbirds.” During the warmer Providing birds with suet and year-Virginia Wild Yards Program may months the Honchariks mow only round feeders increases their chancebe for you. pathways through the grass on a for survival. However, most species For Mary Ann and Alex Hon- regular basis. of songbirds feed insects, worms andcharik of Tucker County, members “We see a lot of butterflies on spiders to their young, so providingof the Wild Yards program since the property now and the small habitat for these tiny invertebrate20 WV Wildlife
  2. 2. creatures is equally important. Thismeans limiting or eliminating theuse of insecticides in your yard andleaving parts of it unmowed. Native plants (as opposed to theexotic ornamentals that you findin most nurseries) play an integralrole in the life of wildlife. Nativeanimals, especially the bees, butter-flies and other pollinators, have co-evolved with and adapted to nativeplants. When we plant an exotic, Mary Ann Honcharikit may become invasive and crowdout other species of plants that arecrucial parts of wildlife habitats.The spread of invasive plant specieshas become a significant threat to Alex Honcharik sits beside the pond he and his wife designed on their property inwildlife, often in ways that are not Tucker countyyet fully understood. A dead tree also provides the For Jan Woodward Heffner of Space is a necessary requirement medium for growth of a wide range Fairmont, participating in the WRSfor all wildlife. Of course your Wild of mushroom species--food for red program has had many benefits. AsYard will not limit the range of a and flying squirrels, insects, snails an advocate of a diversity-rich yardspecies. Wild animals, birds and and humans. Many are also favor- and a certified Wild Yards partici-insects do not refer to the county ites of mushroom hunters, such pant since 2002, she has appreciatedtax maps to determine their move- as oysters, brickcaps, hen-of-the- the parade of wildlife that has usedments! It is important however, for woods and chicken-of-the-woods. her yard, especially in the wintereach of us to realize the importance Of course you need to know what when cover and food become mostof the fragmentation of habitats that you are looking at--dead wood important. She often sees fox andhas occurred as a result also supports poisonous wild turkeys forage in her pesticide-of human activities. mushrooms such as the free yard and has helped her gardenSpecies have different deadly Galerina and Jack- club understand the importance ofhabitat requirements, o-Lantern. Also don’t be diversity by building toad houses.and some will not cross in such a hurry to gather “It is not any more trouble to havewide areas where their the leaves under your an ecologically sound yard,” shehabitat has been re- trees. Leaf litter provides said, “and the reward is in all themoved. Try to keep a a place for insects that are animals I see.”diversity of habitats on a food source for birds Rose Sullivan is the WRS coordi- Alex Honcharikyour property whenever and shrews. Not mow- nator for the Wild Yards Program, thespace permits. ing close to the edge of a Outdoor Wildlife Learning Sites Pro- Some people are pond increases habitat for gram, and the West Virginia Mastersurprised to learn that Mary Ann Honcharik frogs and turtles. Naturalist Program.NOT changing theiryards often benefits wildlife. For How to Have a Certified West Virginia Wild Yardexample, leave that dead standing It’s easy! Request a booklet and application from the WRS Wildlife Diversity Pro-tree as it is. If it is hollow, it is a gram at 304-637-0245 or email: rosesullivan@wvdnr.gov. You cangreat place for mammal dens. It also go online with the following link: http://www.wvdnr.gov/wild-also can provide food for insect eat- life/landscape.shtm. At that web page you can download the Wild Yards booklet and application as well as get information on nativeers, and provide singing perches for shrubs, butterfly gardening, enhancing bird habitats, and find outsongbirds and hunting perches for where to buy native plants as well as what plants to avoid. Afterraptors. Woodpeckers will excavate you send back your application, and it is reviewed for certification,nest cavities, and those openings you will receive a sign that you can post in your yard stating thatmay be used by others such as flying your yard has been selected as a West Virginia Wild Yard.squirrels and chickadees. Spring 2006 21