In the month before my mother died, she took utter delight watching a robin who built a nest in the window box on her front porch, laid beautiful turquoise blue eggs, and then fed the chicks work. I have a picture of the nest full of eggs, nestled under the begonias, and remember my mother’s pleasure. Last winter we had a pair of foxes living in the nearby woods. I’d watch them scurry along their trails when the dogs were inside, and they brought no end of family discussion and interest. Are they still here? I hope so.
How to enhance attracting wildlife to your home? According to Norma Lehmeier Hartie, author of Harmonious Environments, a key is representing the four basic elements of water, fire, Earth and air.
Earth: Make sure there is food for animals–fruit-bearing trees and shrubs, seeds, fruits or nectar.
Water: Wildlife need still or moving fresh water.
Fire: Give wildlife places to shelter warmly–dense shrubbery, trees, fallen logs.
Air: Make sure they have safe nesting places to raise their young, protected from dogs, cats, and other wildlife. Meandering edges and less lawn will give wildlife more places to duck for safety. (And speaking of lawns, eliminate your use of herbicides so as not to harm wildlife.)
Hartie also recommends growing plants and flowers that are indigenous to your areas, and to decide what animals you would like to attract and research what habitats and food they need.
She also offers the thoughtful suggestion to find comfortable seating to encourage long periods of enjoyable time spent outdoors to watch the life around you. I’d add to make some special places inside your home, too, where you can watch the wildlife outdoors unobserved. I have a bay window that opens out to a black birch forest, and it is from here I have spent many an hour watching for the foxes. A friend has a similar bay window around their kitchen table, facing an array of bird feeders, and her family has many enjoyable meals watching the birds that come to visit.
Loss of habitat is a major threat to wildlife around the world, so every bit we can do to help them the better, especially because there is very little public land left.