Transform property into wildlife-friendly area

There is more interest lately in enhancing wildlife habitat for hunting or birding, or trying to restore diminishing native grasses, shrubs and trees to improve the watershed.
Habitat is the total environment in which animals exist. It’s their home. It includes essentials such as food, water, nesting and loafing areas, and protective cover to escape enemies and harsh weather.
Feeders and nesting boxes enhance existing areas, but they are no substitute for habitat.
You can transform your property, even if it’s just your yard, into a wildlife-friendly area by planting trees and shrubs for year-round needs.
Juneberry provides fruit through early summer. Summer foods include black cherry, choke cherry, wild red cherry, mulberry, black gum and hackberry. Hackberry also offers a winter food source.
Fall foods include hawthorn, crabapple, sassafras, mountain ash, flowering dogwood, beechnuts and acorns. American holly is a winter food source, as are birch trees for their buds, and tulip trees and box elders for their seed.
Evergreens offer a place to feed and cover against severe winters. Dense evergreens also are good escape cover. Some wintering birds feed on the cones’ seeds.
Escape cover, which is also used for nesting and as a food source, include tangles of multiflora rose, greenbrier, blackberry and other brambles and briars.
Flowering and other shrubby dogwoods are valuable food sources. Moist locations work well for winterberry, elderberry and spicebush. Vines such as wild grapes, bittersweet, greenbrier and woodbine provide food, cover and beauty in the yard.
Flowers contribute to the variety of birds.
Hummingbirds like bee balm, cardinal flower, columbine, four-o’clock, gladiolus, hibiscus, honeysuckle, butterfly weed, nasturtium, trumpet vine and zinnia.
Garden flower seeds, especially bachelor’s button, bell flower, columbine, cosmos, marigolds and phlox, attract mourning doves, cardinals, towhees, brown thrashers and song sparrows.
It’s said that “variety is the spice of life.” This is especially true when improving wildlife habitat.
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Along the Way:
Dads start that career as the smartest, most infallible person in the world. Then, in 13 or 14 years, they can become one of the most backward, out-of-touch people that are ready to embarrass their kids in front of friends.
Oddly, many of those friends say things like, “Your dad is really cool, not like mine.”
It doesn’t end there. In another 10 years or so, dads suddenly revert to offering good advice and have the ability to foresee the future.
In my opinion, the best dad would take a kid fishing, watch Little League games, attend Scout meetings and teach a kid how to make a tent out of a blanket or even pitch a real one.
He’d build a streamside campfire and, with a few vegetables, hamburger and a piece of tin foil, fix a meal that rivaled Sunday dinner.
He’d take his kid hunting and teach him to respect the life of all wildlife, including their quarry. He’d give that kid a pocketknife as a surprise gift and, of course, a puppy, along with the responsibility of becoming its best friend.
He’d like Sunday drives and going for walks in the woods, skipping stones and holding hands with his best girl. He’d shake your hand in front of your friends, but give you a bear hug before you went to bed.
It wouldn’t matter much what he bought as long as he gave that kid the one thing that neither can ever replace: Time.
He would also live forever.
Happy Father’s Day. Take advantage of it.
Step Outside:
• Monday: No Child Left Indoors for kids ages 6-17. Free event sponsored by Pheasants Forever and Whitetails Unlimited, 5:30 p.m., The Broken Bird Gun Club, 23251 Delaware 186, Forest. Contact 419-722-6771 or email
• Thursday-Friday: Trap and skeet, open to the public at 5 p.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
Abrams is a retired wildlife officer supervisor for the state Division of Wildlife in Findlay. He can be reached at P.O. Box 413, Mount Blanchard, OH 45867-0413 or via email at


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