July 5, 2012
DIY Chilling Stations for Wildlife
Make your own!
It's a cruel summer! Temperatures are soaring into the triple digits across the U.S. this week, and humans aren't the only ones desperate to cool off. Throw some extra ice cubes into your tea, and dig into these tips and tricks to help our animal friends cool down.
Fill up the (bird) tub
Birds will totally use a backyard bird bath to have a drink and cool off. Look for a bath with a non-slip surface, wide edges, and gently sloping sides that come to a center no deeper than three inches. Choose one made of non-toxic materials that won’t rust or leach chemicals.
Place it near a bush or tree birds can fly to for cover, but not near low vegetation in which a predator might hide.
Refill and give a quick scrubbing every couple days, and clean it weekly with a solution of one part chlorine bleach to nine parts water. (Rinse well before refilling!) Really ambitious? Add sound effects with a dripper feature: suspend a jug over the bath with a hook or wire, fill with water, and punch a hole 1/2 inch from the bottom. A mister (sold at garden and home improvement stores) will attract hummingbirds to your bath, too.
Make “puddling” places for butterflies
Butterflies love “puddling”—gathering water and nutrients from mud puddles. Even a very young child can help with this kid-friendly project!
Just find a pie plate, and fill it with a mixture of soil and sand. Add water until the mixture is saturated and some water puddles on top, then set it in a sunny spot.
Cooling stations for amphibians can be win-wins: you'll help them beat the heat and help limit those garden-dwellers you may like seeing less of (mosquitoes, earwigs, flies, slugs, and snails). Install this quick and easy pool for toads (and maybe frogs and salamanders, too).
Place a shallow flowerpot saucer or trashcan lid (10-inch diameter or larger) in the ground with the lip at ground level and fill with water. Plant grasses, sedges, or ferns around the edge, and add stones or branches for easy entry and exit. Keep the water as clean and fresh as you would with a birdbath. Install a toad abode nearby to offer shady relief from the heat.
Create a sanctuary
Every day, more and more wildlife habitat is lost to the spread of development. But you can help wild animals in urban and suburban areas by offering them sanctuary in your own backyard (or front yard, roof-top garden, or deck), no matter how small. Learn how your green space can become an Urban Wildlife Sanctuary.