Even in winter, it’s not unusual for me to see several species of wildlife in my yard. Yesterday alone I saw three ring-necked pheasants, a ruffed grouse, a snowshoe hare, several chickadees, a downy woodpecker and a raccoon. I live on just over an acre, half an hour’s drive from the city of Halifax. How do I do this?
For one thing, I don’t have an outdoor cat or dog.
There is plenty of ground cover in my yard: places where a variety of wildlife can hunker down during a storm or hide during the day.
Much of this cover does double duty as a source of natural food. Chickadees whose diet is 50% insect, even in winter, are able to find tasty meals in the standing dead wood. Hares can often be seen nibbling on the lower balsam fir branches. In the photo above, a hare in its winter coat is doing just that, while a pheasant crouches beneath a spruce. Both animals are well camouflaged by their surroundings. It’s also helpful to encourage biodiversity by allowing a variety of natural plants to grow in the yard. Each animal has its favorite plants to use for food and cover.
In past winters I’ve put seed out regularly for birds and squirrels but this year I’ve only been putting out about a cup of black oil sunflower seeds once a week. A couple of weeks ago I put out some suet in a mesh bag, hanging it from a tree. It’s essentially just bacon fat I’ve saved in the freezer in a plastic container for months. It attracts chickadees and woodpeckers but also seems to have been eaten by a raccoon by the look of the scratch marks on both the suet and the birch tree.
If you try any of the above suggestions, I’m sure you’ll be able to attract your share of wildlife. Be patient. It’s worth the wait.