Written By: Sarah Girton
For the next few weeks we are going in depth about the different criteria needed to get your yard certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a wildlife habitat! If you missed the introductory post from August 17, it does have a few links to the NWF site with more information on the Certified Wildlife Habitat program.
No habitat is complete without a source of water. Every lifeform on earth needs it to survive. Even in the driest deserts, like the Atacama desert in South America, the native flora and fauna have evolved to be as efficient as possible with this rare and precious resource. So it goes without saying that the NWF requires a permanent source of water for your yard to be certifiable. Here in our dry Colorado, it is a little more of a task to set up and maintain, but it is so worth it! Even animals that don’t visit your feeders or other food sources will appreciate a cool drink on a hot summer day. Additionally, birds also need water for bathing. Without it, their feathers are not in tip-top shape, causing their flight and health to suffer.
There are a variety of ways to provide water for your animals; anything up to a lake or an ocean that happens to be on your property! For most of us in Colorado though, we have to install a water feature… so things like bird baths or ponds are perfectly acceptable.
Once you’ve secured a source of water for your yard, the most important thing is to keep it clean. A common misconception that many people have about wildlife is that since they are wild they are “used” to dirty water. Unfortunately this is not the right approach. Any installed water source in your yard can develop deadly bacteria, parasites, and algae. So be sure to research the best methods for your particular feature.
Once everything is said and done, you will get endless hours of joy watching your animal visitors relish in their reliable source of fresh water, and you’ll be that much closer to your Certified Wildlife Habitat!