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Creating Wildlife Habitat


This is the time of year that the rewards of creating a wildlife habitat are coming clear as the insects, birds, reptiles, and mammals visit our yard each day. There seems to be someone enjoying the space at all times. I hear buzzing and chirping during the day and see signs that someone has come to drink water and dig around in the leaves at night. I even have seen where some deer have been sleeping around on the side of our house. My husband saw a fox one evening and I heard an owl in our tree.

Creating a Wildlife Habitat Collage

The yard is so alive and full of surprises each day.

I highly recommend the creating of a wildlife habitat that fits your local area’s wild residents.

The National Wildlife Federation website is a wealth of information on how to create your own habitat, step by step. Read this article about creating a wildlife habitat in your own yard. There is also a short video to watch:

Once you certify your garden online, you can order a flag or sign to proudly display in your yard. I ordered the classic sign and we mounted it near our front walkway. Here are all the signs available: National Wildlife Federation Sign Shop.

Wildlife Habitat PlanWould you like a free printable plan for creating your own Wildlife Habitat? I created one for you to use as you access your yard for the four elements you will need to become certified.

Download and print yours here: Wildlife Habitat Plan

For more information, use this link to the National Wildlife Federation: Certify!



I wrote an entry a few years ago about the making of our own wildlife habitat. This entry mostly shows our backyard and how we planted things and arranged the yard to accommodate a variety of wildlife. Read more about the specific things you need to create a living space in your own yard: Making Your Backyard a Wildlife Habitat.  You may find this entry helpful: Birdwatching 101- Attracting Birds with feeders and plants.

Front Yard Wildlife Habitat

Here is another entry that shows the transformation of our front yard into a more wildlife friendly habitat: Frontyard Remodel.   We have since added a mason bee house that you can read about in this post: Mason Bee House. Here is an entry that shows our frontyard in all four seasons: From My Window.


Winter Garden For Wildlife Part 1: This is mostly about the plants you can add to your yard to make a winter habitat for wildlife.

Winter Garden for Wildlife – Part 2: This post will give you simple ideas for attracting and sheltering wildlife in the winter months.

Finch in the Sunflowers

You may wish to read this entry: Gardening For Birds. In this entry, I share how I have added specific plants to attract and nourish our backyard birds.

Now that summer is here, you may be spending more time in your yard or garden. Take a few minutes to observe any wildlife that visits! Use the printable above to make your wildlife habitat plan soon and then go over to the National Wildlife Federation website to get certified. Then, proudly display your sign and tell your neighbors about the program so they can participate too.

Have you thought about creating a wildlife habitat?










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Outdoor Mom’s Journal – April 2016

“She who opens her eyes and her heart nature-ward even once a week finds nature-study in the schoolroom a delight and an abiding joy….She finds, first of all, companionship with her children; and second, she finds that without planning or going on a far voyage, she has found health and strength”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 3

It has been a great month of outdoor activity here in our household. I tend to forget how much better I feel when I get outside and walk/hike regularly. It is a cleansing of the everyday anxieties that is only found with fresh air and physical activity.  I would love to share some highlights of the month so far with you.

Butter and Eggs April 2016

It is always so exciting to find and identify a new wildflower! We were on a hike at a very well known trail and there it was…a new flower. I took some photos and then later used my field guide to find out what the name and some interesting facts. This is Johnny-Tuck or Butter and Eggs (Triphysaria eriantha).  When we were looking at it closely to make some notes of what it looked like, I noted that it reminded me of owl’s clover and sure enough it belongs to the owl’s clover group. I love the connections that we can learn to make over time between similar flowers and plants.

Fringepod april 2016

This has been a wonderful year for all my favorite wildflowers with the amount of rain we have received it has been a bumper year for flowers. Above you can see the special plant that lines one section of our local trail. This Hairy lacepod (or fringepod) is actually blooming right now and developing these jewel-like pods with lacy edges. I enjoyed showing this plant to a friend of mine who has come to appreciate the diversity of plants in our area. [Thysanocarpus curvipes]

American River with lupine April 2016

We took three different hikes to the American River this month so far. The section above is on the South Fork of the American River and you can see the lupine blooming in the foreground.

American River lupine April 2016

This image is from our hike on the North Fork of the American River, again with lupine in the foreground. Two different areas but equally as wild and beautiful.

 Bee on California Lilac april 2016

 This image is from a little close to home…my frontyard! I have been working in the yard and enjoying the living creatures that visit each day. This honeybee has his pollen baskets full! That is really the color of the flower on the California lilac…so amazing and perfect to brighten the sides of my front steps.

Frontyard April 2016 rosesThis is taken from my front deck where I spend a lot of time each day as I sip coffee or read, enjoying the view and sunshine. This Outdoor Mom has come alive alongside the plants and insects this month….feeling more myself than in a long time. I am going to be taking an unexpected trip to the East Coast soon and I hope to carry on with some unique outdoor experiences as I visit my children.

New York Garden with ground hog

I also hope to work a bit in my daughter’s garden as it comes alive with her New York spring weather. We planted spring bulbs last fall and they are already making a showing…perhaps we will add some summer bulbs on this trip. The image above shows a couple of her garden friends….the chickadee and the ground hog!

American River at Daybreak

Here is a photo from my husband’s travels this month. Taken from his regular walking spot on the river at daybreak. He takes this loop trail a few times a week and he always sends me an image. The water is very high in this picture from all the rain and snow we have experienced in the last six weeks. Such a welcome change from the years of drought!

I’m looking forward to the rest of the month and the Outdoor Hour Challenges that will fill my time. Join me every Friday for more nature study fun!


Outdoor Moms Journal @handbookofnaturestudy

Outdoor Mom’s Journal

Whether your family spends a few minutes a week outside or hours at a time, share what is going on in your world.

How Do You Join?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time this week we went….
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting….
  • I added nature journal pages about….
  • I am reading…
  • I am dreaming about…
  • A photo I would like to share…


Outdoor Hour Challenge April 2016 Monthly Printables for Members @handbookofnaturestudy

Please note that Ultimate Naturalist and Journey level members have access to members only printables each month in addition to the newsletter printables. You will need to log into your account and then go to the “Other Releases” section.


Getting Started FAQ Button
Need help getting started with your nature study using the Handbook of Nature Study? Check out the fresh “Getting Started” page here on the website!



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September Leaf Study – Smoke Tree

September Leaf Study Smoke Tree using the Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter

“During autumn the attention of the children should be attracted to the leaves by their gorgeous colors. It is well to use this interest to cultivate their knowledge of the forms of leaves of trees; but the teaching of the tree species to the young child should be done quite incidentally and guardedly. If the teacher says to the child bringing a leaf, ‘This is a white-oak leaf,’ the child will soon quite unconsciously learn that leaf by name. Thus, tree study may be begun in the kindergarten or the primary grades.” Anna Botsford-Comstock

The September newsletter was all about trees and a leaf study. I was trying to find a new subject for my study this month and decided upon a fairly new tree I have growing in my front yard. We have not pruned it to be a tree but have let it grow more in the shape of a bush. Our smoke tree provided a wonderful focal point for my leaf study using the suggestions in the newsletter and on the notebook page provided.

Note: If you subscribe to this blog, you will receive each month’s newsletter in an email. If you are interested in access to all the back issues of the newsletter, you can purchase any level of membership here on the Handbook of Nature Study and those will be available for download. See the Join Us page for more details.

Doing research on this interesting plant, I learned it has numerous common names including mist tree, cloud tree, wig tree, and Jupiter’s beard. I have always liked these trees because they develop this interesting pink “smoke” over the summer months and then the leaves turn a deep reddish purple in the autumn. Our smoke tree has just started to blush with red color on many of the leaves. Soon it will be ablaze with its autumn splendor.

Smoke Tree Leaf Study using the Handbook of Nature Study (4)

 Can you see the hint of red in some of the leaves above? I used the prompt from the newsletter to compare the top and bottom of the leaves. The tops of the leaves are a dark gray green color and the backs are more of a silvery green color. You can feel the veins on the bottom of the leaf but the tops are smooth. Also, you can see the beginnings of the dark little fruits that form on this plant in the fall.

Smoke Tree Leaf Study using the Handbook of Nature Study (5)

I used the suggestion on the notebook page to smell the leaf and then to crush it and see if that enhances the scent. Yes! I thought the leaf had the fragrance of spicy earth but when I was doing my reading about the smoke tree, I found that it said the crushed leaf smells like orange peel. Once they put that thought in my head I had to agree…orange peels. In the photo above, you can see a few of the dark small seeds mixed in with the pink smoke.

Smoke Tree Leaf Study using the Handbook of Nature Study (1)

So here is my completed notebook page with all my observations and interesting facts…an a watercolor drawing of the leaf. I may print a photo of the tree and attach it to the back of my notebook page for my journal since I have one that I took that I especially like. My page is now tucked away in my nature journal binder and thinking about it makes me happy.

Using the notebook page, I realized that I need to make the prompt on the next notebook page a little more narrow so if we want to use it as a nature journal topper it will fit in a sketchbook or blank nature journal better. Look for that next month!


Need some additional ideas?

Here is a video I made on how to make a watercolor leaf which is especially good for beginners: Watercolor Leaf on YouTube.

I created another video featuring watercolor crayons that create a beautiful leaf in my nature journal: Watercolor Crayons – Leaf Demonstration.

Here is a link to Hearts and Trees: Fall Nature Study- Things to Do With Leaves (10 things to do with leaves)


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Lovely Lavender Days and Lavender Nature Study

I love all things lavender! It is the predominant plant and the predominant color in my front yard. Just about everyone who visits my house comments on the lovely fragrance of lavender as they walk up the front walk.

Lavender #1 (which we always call English lavender): Fragrant light lavender with silvery-green stem that is stiff and woody. This is the lavender I harvest and make potpourri for sachets from because it smells just like perfume.The large plants have grown over part of the walkway so when you brush by them you are treated to a perfumy delight.

I have missed the prime time for harvesting this summer because of travel but I will still go out early in the morning in the next few days and cut the blossoms to dry for a big batch of fragrant potpourri to have on hand.

Lavender along the walkway (sage in the background)

Lavender #2 (which we always call Spanish lavender): Spicy lavender scent with feathery soft leaves and petals that look like wings on the top. The leaves when rubbed are just as fragrant as the actual flower. We learned to prune this lavender last fall and it came back with a growth spurt I couldn’t believe was possible. I am pruning it way back again this year.

Lavender with “wings” on top and fern-like leaves

Are you interested in learning more about lavender? My daughter and I created a Hearts and Trees Kit that features lavender nature study and a lavender sachet sewing project. The lavender nature study is in the form of an Outdoor Hour Challenge and I wrote a narrative that mimics the style of Anna Botsford Comstock in the Handbook of Nature Study. You will really enjoy this study and your children will learn a lot about lavender.

I am pleased to announce that for the next ten days you can purchase a Hearts and Trees Kit featuring lavender nature study and a lavender sachet craft and receive FREE SHIPPING.

You must use the buttons below to receive the special discount.
For the lavender focused part of this kit, your child will create a dried lavender sachet. The fabric, thread, needle yarn and dried lavender and instructions are included. ***PLEASE NOTE: If you or your child is allergic to lavender just let us know and we will not send the dried lavender!***
There is also an eight page nature journal focusing on lavender. Your child will assemble the nature journal using the cover, pages and a length of twine. A sample lavender flower is provided for you to study. The cardboard, rubber bands and link to instructions are provided so that you can make a flower press. Waxed paper and instructions are also included to make a waxed paper pouch to mount the pressed lavender into the nature journal.

There is more to the kit! Each one includes:
  • 2 sewing projects
  • 2 handicraft projects
  • 1 painting project
  • 1 drawing project
  • 1 nature study collection of projects focusing on lavender
  • 1 artist study collection of notebooking pages with art print

These kits were gathered with children ages 6-12 in mind. Parents may need to help their students, especially younger children, with some aspects of this kit. (Please note you will need to supply some common art supplies to complete these projects such as scissors, paintbrush and markers. A list of common supplies you will need is included with the kit.)

Hearts and Trees Lavender and Bubbles Kit 

Hearts and Trees Bubbles and Lavender Kit–FREE SHIPPING

 If you have any questions,  email me or my daughter (

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California Shrub: Western Redbud

These were the blossoms on the Western Redbud a few months ago, before the leaves appeared.
This is what it looks like now.

Western (or California) Redbud

  • Pea family
  • Usually a shrub 7 to 18 feet high.
  • Leaves are round and heart shaped, winter deciduous
  • Bright purple flowers appear in early spring on naked branches, followed by bronze colored leaves that soon turn green.
  • Seed pods appear in July.
  • Grows below 4,000 feet.
  • Drought tolerant and sun-loving.
  • Native Americans highly prized this shrub and used its autumn wine-red branches for basket-making.
I am hoping to have this redbud as part of my lovely front yard for many, many season to come.

I have long wanted a redbud in my yard and when we did our front yard remodel we left a space for one in the front section. I planted poppies around the base and this spring I got to discover how beautifully they work together in my yard. I need to remember that you are to prune it in the fall, winter, or early spring after the leaf drop.

There is a wealth of information in the printable: USDA Western Redbud.

This the second of my shrubs…only three more to go to meet my 2013 goal.

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Garden Flowers Close to Home – And More

This month our Outdoor Hour Challenge focus is on garden flowers and crop plants. There will be no lack of subjects to study this month right outside our front and back doors. As the spring weather warms up and we have abundant sunshine, I am eager to get out and start digging in the dirt. It was easy to check off a few of the Garden Grid Study ideas as went worked in the yard this weekend.

So I will give you a tour of some of the interesting garden flowers, crops, grasses, and bushes we have in our yard right now. Enjoy!

Heart shaped leaves…

My latest garden acquisition is this lovely, lovely lilac bush. If only you could smell the delicate fragrance of the flowers! I am hoping this is a winner in my sunny backyard. We planted it where it will have plenty of sunshine and room to grow.

We had this spot already prepared from last summer when it was part of my experimental veggie garden expansion…we weren’t all that successful so I decided that my beloved lilac would find a home here.

More heart-shaped leaves…

Here is my latest experiment….hydrangeas on the shady side of my house. I decided to leave them in pots to see if they survive and if they look like they are liking it here then I will plant them in the ground. The birdfeeder has now been moved to the other part of the garden where the squirrels might not find it for a bit.

Watched the bees in the flowers…

The backyard lavender is blooming now and the bees are busy already. You can never have too much lavender….or at least I think so.

Disneyland Rose

This is definitely the year of the rose in our area. All my roses are blooming and this one is my favorite…the Disneyland Rose. It has a spicy perfume fragrance and the blooms are peachy-pink. I cut this all the way to the ground last fall because it was an odd shape. I wasn’t sure if it would bloom well this spring but I have to say that I may just cut it all the way down every fall if this is the results. Awesome!

Look at those leaves!

This is another new arrival in the back garden. We have a super sunny hot spot up next to my backyard retreat. Nothing has been very successful here except the Jerusalem Sage. I am taking a chance with the Moonshine Yarrow and it has probably doubled in size since we planted it. I am hopeful that it will do well here.

These leaves are fuzzy and soft.

This is our Jerusalem Sage…I looked it up and it grows to be about 48″ wide. It needs very little water and it blooms long into the autumn season. I watered it three times a week last summer (the first summer) but now I am going to be only watering it twice a week and see how it goes. It looks like it is pretty well established. Where I live in Northern California, we get very little rain from June to November. Our first significant rain last fall was November 27th. Now you know why I use lots of drought tolerant plants in my yard.

So here is my surprise squash plant that is growing in the cutting flower garden box. I am not sure where it came from but I am going to let it grow since it seems so happy where it is. I did not have squash growing anywhere near this box last year so we will be surprised when it matures to see what it is exactly.

I had to include an image of my clover since we are focusing on Garden Flowers and Crop Plants this month for the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Clover is included in the Handbook of Nature Study so if you have some in your yard…take advantage of the nature study opportunity.

Our Smoke bush is so very pretty right now with its airy little blossoms that make it look like it has smoke. This has doubled in size since we planted it two years ago and I love the way it looks right now.

See the tiny little flowers? This is what makes it look like “smoke”. Later in the autumn the leaves turn a deep purple…love it!

One last image of our sage that is growing like crazy with our warmer temperatures and sunshine. This will be covered in delicate purple flowers during the summer…loads of bees visit these bushes in our front yard during the summer.

There you go… a visit to my garden, a few new things, and some close observation as part of the Outdoor Hour Challenge. My boys helped me finish preparing the garden boxes and we planted seeds this weekend too so there will be lots more to come as the seasons flow by.

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Garden Delights and a Living Habitat – Tuesday Garden Party

Dogwood blossom

It feels like spring now that the dogwood is blooming! Our front garden is such a source of joy right now with it colors and textures. I spend far too much time gazing out the window at the beauty and sitting out on the steps just breathing it all in deeply. The birds and insects are visiting daily as they find different things to enjoy too…the bird bath, the blossoms with pollen to collect, or the seeds in the feeders.

Whether you enjoy the fragrance or the color of lavender… would be happy sitting in this part of the garden. The bees are buzzing again, stopping by many of the purple flowers many times before flying off again. I am anticipating the summer harvest of my lavender and creating many more sachets to give away to friends and family.

So this is the view from the top of the garden looking down from the top terrace. The yarrow is huge this year and already covered in flower buds. We weren’t sure about our pruning that was done last fall because we were worried we had trimmed it too far to the ground but now look at those mounds of yarrow! The lavender is filling in after being trimmed almost all the way back as well. I love using the internet and as a reference for my gardening tasks…there is a lot of practical advice out there. The butterfly bushes are going to be amazing this year and the poppies are showing their color (middle right of the photo).

Since the front yard is so low maintenance, we can focus our thoughts and energy on our vegetable garden now that the weather is warming up.

My husband and I are so very happy with our no-mow yard and enjoy having the neighbors stop by and tell us they love driving by and seeing all the different flowers. If you are interested in removing your lawn and switching over to drought tolerant plants and natives, I highly recommend a book I am reading from Timber Press: Beautiful No-Mow Yards by Evelyn J. Hadden. It claims to have fifty lawn alternatives…most of them are spectacular but yet not too complicated.

One thing I have learned about my own no-mow yard is that there is going to be a lot of color if you plan it right. No-mow yards are much more interesting and enjoyable to all the senses. You can see how our project started here: Frontyard Remodel.

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Moss on Our Nature Table and Up-Close

What a delightful addition to our nature table! Moss in a pot adds some color and texture to our little growing area of the nature table where we also have several varieties of cactus growing. The light seems just about right here for the moss and so far we have watered it once a week and it is still going strong.

The moss on the plate above was the specimen we brought inside to examine as part of the Moss Challenge from last week. We viewed it closely with our eyes, magnifying lens, and camera lens. There really is a lot to see and the parts of the moss are really interesting.

After viewing, I took a small pot and filled it with some regular garden soil and then placed our specimen on the top. I watered it well from the top and then pressed it firmly onto the soil. I did a little research and it said that moss really does like to be watered from the bottom so when I need to water it I place it in a small bowl of water and let it sit until the whole thing is moist.

Moss and capsules up close @handbookofnaturestudy.blogspot.comHere are few images that we took with our camera…really showing the capsules and the stems.

Moss up close

Amazing structure and no wonder it is soft and enjoyable to the touch!

Our front yard is a great habitat for moss since we pulled out the lawn. The cracks in the pavers and the area below the retaining wall have moss that adds such a great feel to the yard. We did not plan on the moss but it just invited itself to grow in the cracks and crannies.

The big rocks in the foreground were bright green with moss a month or so ago but since we have had warmer temperatures and drier days the moss has turned sort of brown. I know with the next rain it will green up again so I will enjoy that when it happens. You can see our Lamb’s ear plant here in this image…one of my favorite low water plants in our front yard….I know it spreads but with the big rocks right there and the retaining wall behind, it can’t go too far.

So there you go…our continuing moss study! Don’t forget there is a free printable in the Moss and Lichen Challenge that you can use to record your own moss study.

How about your family? Have you found some moss to explore with all your senses?

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Winter Garden for Wildlife – Part 2 Shelter

Winter gardening for wildlife allows our family to help sustain our local animal community during the long cold winter months when they are looking for their basic needs of food, water, and shelter. In my last Winter Garden For Wildlife post, I shared how we have structured our garden to help encourage wildlife to visit all year long. One of the vital components of a winter garden for wildlife is to create sheltering spots.This often means leaving a little “messiness” in your winter garden. With just a little effort and planning, you can be rewarded with daily visits from the birds and other animals who enjoy your winter garden.

Here are some ideas for you to use in your own winter garden oasis for sheltering spots —–
bushes, rocks, trees, arbor, leaf piles.

Spreading fallen leaves over your flower beds makes a place for birds to forage and other creatures to over-winter. I have observed the towhees and the juncos picking through the leaves looking for something to eat. We even add in a few of the smaller fallen branches to the pile which give additional spots for birds to perch and land under the feeder. If you have access to a few logs, making a log pile would be another option for a variety of creatures to use as shelter.

Rock Shelter for insects and invertebrates @HBNatureStudy

Our rock patches are the perfect place for overwintering creatures to hide in and under.I know there are insects of some kind living in these rocks….I have seen beetles. I also have observed that the Western scrub jays and robins poke around in these rocks which leads me to believe there are some tasty morsels in the rocks for them to enjoy.

large rock shelter mammals invertebrates @HBNatureStudy

Larger rocks allow for creatures to shelter from the winter temperatures and conditions. They seem to find all the nooks and crannies to squeeze into and to use as protection. I have even seen a few lizards out here on the big rocks…not my favorite creatures but still very awesome to see.

Vine Shelter for birds and insects @HBNatureStudy

Although we do prune back the trumpet vines and climbing rose twice a year, we leave it to grow over the winter to allow the birds to perch and shelter. Our main backyard bird feeder is just to the left of the edge of this photo and the birds will use these vines as landing spots on their way to and from the feeder. I have also seen the birds huddled inside the vines when the wind is howling away…they seem all snug tucked up inside. The littler birds escape the larger birds by getting up inside the vines…many layers of shelter going on in this spot of the yard.

Dried plant stem shelter for insects @HBNatureStudy

Leaving dry plant stems in the garden leaves a place for insects and spiders to shelter. I read somewhere that there are insects that will crawl into the hollow stems for shelter through the winter. I have not seen this yet but my eyes are on the alert!

Shrubs shelter for birds mammals and insects @HBNatureStudy

The shrubs and bushes in our yard provide the best protection from the rain and snow. I often will see birds tucked up inside the limbs of the bushes in our yard even in the hardest downpours. There are several spots in the lavender bushes that look like the image above where the birds have created a little hiding spot.

Planning ahead when you are finishing your autumn garden clean-up gives your winter garden a chance to provide the shelter your neighborhood creatures need to survive the cold and wet conditions of the season. Shelter from the wind, rain, snow, ice, and predators is a vital part of any winter garden plan.

Do you have any additional ideas for winter garden shelter for wildlife? 

You may be interested in reading this additional backyard habitat entry:
Making Your Backyard a Wildlife Habitat

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Winter Garden For Wildlife Part 1

Now that the season has changed and we have cleaned up the yard for the coming season, I thought I would share a few of the ways we keep our yard as a wildlife habitat in winter. It is just a matter of knowing which plants to prune back and which ones can be left as they are.

We have learned by trial and error mostly.

The Heavenly bamboo along the front of our house is not only colorful this time of year with the leaves turning reddish and the berries ripening to a brilliant orange-red but it is a source of shelter for birds and insects. I have seen the Ruby-crowned kinglet gathering spiderwebs from these bushes. (Audubon website says of the kinglet’s nest, “Moss, grass, lichen, bark strips, twigs, rootlets, needles, and spider webs comprise its outer walls, and feathers, plant down, and hair form a soft lining.”)

We leaves some of the grasses and weeds for the birds and other animals to use as food and shelter.

They don’t look very appetizing but the birds think these are tasty little treats….blackberries left on the vine just behind our bird feeding station. The finches, sparrows, titmouse, and towhees all shelter on and under these vines. I also saw fox scat just by these vines last week so I think they might be gleaning a few berries as well (as evidenced in the scat).

The coneflowers are another favorite in the winter flower garden. I cut them way back but leave some of the seed heads for the birds to glean from.

We also have learned that some of the weeds in our yard are best left to over-winter. These mullein plants will shoot up a stalk next spring and then flower all summer. The hummingbirds and finches will use them as a steady part of their diet. We leave those in the garden.

I harvested about thirty pounds of walnuts this year for our enjoyment. I will spend many a winter evening hour cracking nuts for our family and to share with friends. Some of those friends will have feathers and fur. I leave quite a few of the nuts for the squirrels and Scrub jays to use for their winter meals. When I note that all the nuts are up off the ground, I will regularly set some out of my store cupboard in various parts of the yard. They always disappear.

Lavender along the front wall is once place I trim but not all the way back. It looks sort of wild but it does provide shelter all winter long for birds and nectar for the hummingbirds and bees. Yes, we have bees and hummingbirds in the winter who frequent this section of the garden. It amazes me every time I see the birds hovering over those small little flowers but they must be gathering some food or they wouldn’t come back. I also love leaving this section of lavender because when the sun hits those plants it produces a sweet smell that reminds me that summer will come again.

It can’t all be about the animals, birds, and insects.

I have another post that I will share in the next few weeks showing some more sheltering spots in our yard that may inspire you to try your hand at a winter garden for wildlife.

I invite you to read Winter Garden for Wildlife Part 2 – Shelter.