Encourage Birds and Other Wildlife
- Provide Food Plants. Plant plants that attract wildlife. Consider that the wildlife that you seek to attract have preferred or required food needs. Take those into account as you plan your landscape. Consider fruits that ripen through the seasons and the species that rely upon those fruits. Consider browse - if you want butterflies, provide their favorite foods such as milkweeds. If you want hummingbirds, provide red flowers with lots of nector. If you have scrub-jays, plant some sand live oak or Chapman's oak. And so on.
- Provide Cover. Most smaller species are the prey for something larger. If you want to see these small wildlife species, provide them with cover. Plan on a few dense areas. Keep some bushy trees smaller birds can hide in. Leave a place for foxes to curl up in the shade.
- Provide Safe Nesting or Denning Areas. We all know about bird houses, but appropriate live trees, leaving an occasional dead tree with a nest cavity, leaving some dead limbs on a tall cypress, can attract other species to make our landscapes home.
- Control Pets. Did you know that the house cat is a deadly predator? Many of us own and love one, but keeping yours at home and providing safe havens from cats can make your landscape friendly to birds and other small animals.
- Avoid Poisoning the Species You Want. Using large amounts of herbicides and insecticides will poison not only pests but also species that you'd like to keep. Minimize the use of any chemical that you wouldn't like to bathe in. That green tree frog is probably going to get very sick when you spray him/her with it.
- Provide Water. Almost all larger species and many smaller ones require a source of water. Provide a pond or bird bath. If you provide a pond and stock it with fish, don't be surprised to find an avian fisherman enjoying dinner.
- Be Responsible. Other than small birds, feeding wildlife can be a danger to the wildlife and to humans. Many species that are fed lose their fear of humans. Some of these can become pests, and they can become a danger to humans or pets (think raccon). Help keep wildlife wild.
Generate Lists of Plants of High Value to Wildlife
Humming bird nectar plants. These birds also need insects for feeding their young, so make sure you have plants that will attract insect pollinators and the carnivorous insects that feed on them.
Other birds. The emphasis is on food plants. Plants that produce soft fruits such as berries or grains attract birds, with different species being attracted to different plants. Remember that they also need places to rest and nest.
Bats. Florida's bats are insectivores. They eat insects. There are no fruitivores native to Florida. In the tropics, fruitivores are important pollinators of agaves and yuccas. These are pollinated by moths in Florida. Florida bats do need places to sleep and raise their young, and some species use the foliage of trees and shrubs, as well as hollows in trees. Consider making a bat house.
Other herbivores and omnivores. We focus on animals that many of us enjoy having around such as flying squirrels and gopher tortoises. We suggest good outdoor sanitation to avoid species that are pests though what is a pest to many may be valued by someone else (I enjoy seeing raccoons, but no, they would not be welcome raiding my garbage).
Other species (anoles, snakes, etc.). To attract these species (I like green anoles, and I have a "pet" black racer that hangs around), make sure you provide vegetative cover. To control where they are, well, avoid dense cover where you do not want wildlife (carports, play areas, etc.).