5 Ideas for Creating a Winter Wildlife Habitat

Miles Stephens
Written by Miles Stephens
Updated November 10, 2016
Choose trees and shrubs that are native to your area for a beautiful, low-maintenance landscape that’s also beneficial to local wildlife. (Photo courtesy of Miles Stephens)

Winter is the season people spend the most time indoors. The outdoor landscape seems bare and quiet, but don’t be fooled by the stillness; there’s still much going on in the off season.

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Birds and other wildlife are bracing for the elements. Help them thrive all season by creating a winter habitat they can enjoy. Simply provide structure, food and water and they’ll thank you all season long. You’ll notice a gradual increase in the number of friendly animals visiting your yard when you create a welcoming environment.

1. Care for the birds

Create a wildlife sanctuary in your backyard by adding feeders, nesting boxes and birdhouses. Plant both deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs that provide hiding spaces, habitat and food supplies to create a sustainable environment for active winter birds. 

2. Go native

Choose trees and shrubs that are native to your area for a beautiful, low-maintenance landscape that’s also beneficial to local wildlife. Plant a diverse variety to offer multiple benefits. Many woody plants produce fruit or nuts that animals love to snack on during the winter months. Trees such as hawthorn, crabapple, holly, and sumac offer emergency winter food as well. 

3. Design like nature

Birds and other wildlife will find food and shelter in various areas and various heights. Copy nature’s design by planting trees and layering shrubs and other tree species in groups. Your Davey Tree arborist can advise you on the best way to plant in groups and still ensure you are planting the right trees in the right place.

4. Don't deadhead

Now is not the time to clip and remove spent plants. Leave plants untrimmed for the season. Birds will feast on seeds and stalks from certain species and others provide camouflage from predators. 

5. Add water

Just like trees, wild animals need fresh water during winter to prevent dehydration. Make it easy for them by adding a pond or birdbath. Birds will also use water to fluff feathers that add extra protection from the cold.

Not sure which trees and shrubs are native to your local area? Schedule an appointment with a certified arborist today. Your arborist can provide recommendations for your landscape and tips to make it enjoyable year-round, and not just for the birds.

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