Water for life
Water is the basis for all life. All gardeners are used to watering the plants in their garden during our hot and often dry summers, but water is also important for wildlife. It is necessary for drinking, keeping clean and healthy, as well as for cooling off. Some species even rely on water for safety, such as waterfowl that use it for sleeping at night and some amphibians when they sense danger. Add a source of water to your yard and you will be amazed at the wildlife you attract!
Tip 1: Au naturel options
Water for wildlife can include natural features such as streams, ponds, rivers and other water bodies. Sage Creek has many great wetlands that are naturally managed to provide shelter and food for wildlife, as well as filtering pollutants from the water itself. Protecting the water’s edge is one thing that helps make these wetlands able to do their job!
Butterflies love mudpuddling — it is a way for them to get both nutrients and moisture. Leave an area of mud, sand, or compost that you use for gardening. After a rain, watch to see how many of these winged beauties grace your garden in search of nourishment!
Tip 2: DIY options
Creating a pond or recirculating stream will accommodate many species of wildlife, especially as you deepen the bottom. Keep in mind that edges are best if they are sloping, to prevent drownings of animals expecting a shallow area to drink.
If space or budget limitations prohibit a pond, you can still provide water with a small bird bath. Clean the dish once a week, more often in the warmer weather. Avoid harsh cleaners. Instead, a simple scrub with water and scouring brush or cloth should be sufficient. If the dish gets really mucky, add a small amount of gentle liquid dish detergent and rinse well. This keeps the water clean and healthy, and also prevents mosquitoes from successfully breeding in your bird bath.
Consider adding some sound effects! The sound of moving water will make your yard even more enticing. Even a simple drip can attract more birds to your yard. Hummingbirds love flying through a fine mist and will get to know your schedule if you set up your hose to spray for 10 minutes at the same time each day – with the added bonus of watering your garden or lawn!
In certifying properties, the CWF looks to see if your outdoor space meets the needs of wildlife. The program encourages a well-rounded approach that includes natural features which support a diversity of wildlife.
The CWF website will guide you through these different components, and you can sign up to receive updates, including additional blogs in this series on CWF Backyard Certification where we will dive into the details of how to make your backyard a welcoming paradise for Manitoba wildlife!