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Please send your question regarding habitat development and gardening for birds to gardening@birdzilla.com. We'll answer as many as we can and post selected answers here.

Q. Wildlife doesn't just randomly occur in a given area; it is there in response to habitat which meets its needs. What are the four essential elements of a wildlife habitat, including for birds?
DF - Atlanta, GA

A. Food, water, cover (protection from weather and predators) and space to raise a family.

Tom Patrick is president of the Windstar Wildlife Institute. Tom's company provides training and certification in wildlife habitat development programs. Thanks to Tom and some of his Certified Wildlife Habitat Naturalists for answering the questions.

Q. Feeders are used to supplement the foods provided by trees, shrubs, flowers, crops in food plots, vines and ground covers. What are the different types of feeders?
TR - LA, CA.

A. Cylindrical, hopper, suet, hummingbird, squirrel and fruit.


Texas Plants for Wildlife Habitat & Conservation Landscaping
Do you enjoy observing nature...hearing the song of the chickadee...watching hummingbirds fill up on nectar from trumpet vines...listening to the chattering of squirrels...seeing the beauty and grace of a monarch butterfly perched on a milkweed... experiencing the antics of a Mockingbird...the cooing of the Mourning Doves...the swiftness of the Cottontail...and the brilliance of a Cardinal or Baltimore Oriole?

If the answer is "yes", you'll probably want to landscape your property for wildlife so you can experience even more from Mother Nature by attracting more wildlife to your property.

Wildlife doesn't just randomly appear in a given area. It is there because of favorable habitat. The essential elements that you must provide in your habitat are food, water, cover and a place to raise a family. To attract the most wildlife, you need native trees, shrubs, groundcover, vines and wildflowers, many of which will provide food and shelter.

Native or indigenous plants naturally occur in the region in which they evolved. They are adapted to local soil, rainfall and temperature conditions, and have developed natural defenses to many insects and diseases. Because of these traits, native plants will grow with minimal use of water, fertilizers and pesticides. Wildlife species evolve with plants; therefore, they use native plant communities as their habitat. Using native plants helps preserve the balance and beauty of natural ecosystems.

Remember the function served by plants and structures is more important than their appearance. In other words, don't base your planting decisions solely on what a plant looks like. Following are WindStar Wildlife Institute's plant recommendations for wildlife habitats in Texas.

Box Elder; Pecan; Shagbark, Black and Mockernut Hickory; Hackberry; Redbud; Parsley Hawthorn; Persimmon; White and Green Ash; Possum Haw; Texas, Black, River and Little Walnut; Ashe, red-berry and Rocky Mountain Juniper; Eastern Red Cedar; Sweet Gum; Black Gum; Pinyon, Loblolly and Ponderosa Pine; Quaking Aspen; Chickasaw and Mexican Plum; Black Cherry; Southern Red, Gambel's, Overcup, Bur, Blackjack, Chinkapin, Willow, Shumard, Post and Live Oak; Carolina Buckthorn

White-ball Acacia; Four-wing Saltbush; Chittamwood; Mountain Mahogany; Rabbit Brush; Rough-leaf Dogwood; Feather Plume; Black Dalea; Winterfat; Swamp Privet; Desert Olive; One-seed Juniper; Winterberry; Yaupon; Sweetspire; Pink Mimosa; Honey Mesquite; Chokecherry; Smooth, Prairie Flameleaf and Desert Sumac; Buffalo Currant; Prairie, Carolina and Illinois Rose; Dwarf Palmetto; Eve's Necklace; Coralberry; Sparkleberry; Black Haw

Sand Verbena; Prairie Dandelion; Prairie Onion; Thimbleweed; Pussytoes; Spreading Dogbane; White Prickly Poppy; Jack-in-the-pulpit; Prairie Sage; Antelope Horns; Swamp and Showy Milkweed; Butterflyweed; Heath and Sky Blue Aster; Milk Vetch; Square-bud Primrose; Indian Paintbrush; Basket Flower; Rocky Mountain Beeplant; Lance-leaved and Plains Coreopsis; Blue and Prairie Larkspur; Purple Coneflower; Engelmann Daisy; Prairie Fleabane; Rattlesnake Master; Joe-pye Weed; Flowering Spurge; Texas Bluebell; Indian Blanket; Bluets; Northern Sweetvetch; Common, Maximilian, Plains and Ox-eye Sunflower; Southern Blue Flag; Gayfeather; Blazing Star; Blue and Yellow Flax; Sand, Red, Fendler and Whorled Penstemon; White and Purple Prairie Clover; Prairie Coneflower; Black-eyed Susan; Prairie Verbena

Trumpet Creeper; American Bittersweet; Leather Flower; Purple Clematis; Woodbine; Arizona, Riverbank, Muscadine Grape and Canyon Grape; Kentucky Wisteria

Tree Cholla; Common Prickly Pear; Yucca

Western Wheatgrass; Ticklegrass; Big, Splitbeard, Bushy, Little and Sand Bluestem; Sideoats, Black, Blue and Hairy Grama; Buffalograss; Canada Wild Rye; Plains Love Grass; Tobosa; Junegrass; Bush Muhly; Vine Mesquite; Switchgrass; Indiangrass; Tall and Sand Dropseed; Eastern Gamagrass

In the south, the Gulf Coast Plain meets the Gulf of Mexico. The North Central Plains slope upward creating some hills. The Great Plains extend to the Panhandle where they are broken by low mountains, a southern extension of the Rocky Mountains called Trans-Pecos.The Native Plant Society of Texas can provide lists of plants for a specific region.

Stretching 440 miles from east to west, Tennessee characterized by 6 main land regions; The Blue Ridge, the Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region, the Appalachian Plateau, the Highland Rim, the Nashville Basin and the Gulf Coastal Plain. The Blue Ridge area lies on the eastern edge of Tennessee is characterized by high mountains, including the Great Smoky Mountains, the Chilhowee Mountains, and the Snowbird Mountains. The Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region is covered by fertile valleys separated by wooded ridges. The Appalachian Platieau is covered with flat-topped mountains separated by sharp valleys. The Highland Rim is an elevated plain that surrounds the Nashville Basin.The Nashville Basin is characterized by rich, fertile farm country. The Gulf Coastal Plain is, in terms of area, the predominant land region in Tennessee. The Gulf Coastal Plain is divided into three sections that extend from the Tennessee River, in the east, to the Mississippi River in the west. The Tennessee Native Plant Society can provide lists of plants for a specific region.

For more information on improving your wildlife habitat, visit the WindStar Wildlife Institute web site. On the web site, you can also apply to certify your property as a wildlife habitat, register for the "Certified Wildlife Habitat Naturalist e-Learning course, become a member and sign up for the FREE WindStar Wildlife Garden Weekly e-mail newsletter.

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