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The Wildlife Habitat Advisors Program

a service of the Frederick Bird Club

Natural Landscaping

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Mission: The Habitat Advisor Program will empower, inspire, and educate our community to create and sustain native wildlife habitat by providing them with on-site, no-cost, collaborative visits, led by trained volunteer habitat advisors.

 

Vision: The Habitat Advisor Program will endeavor to counteract the effects of habitat loss, decreasing density of wildlife, decreasing biodiversity, increasing invasive species, and climate change through the combined efforts of many individuals.  We envision a network of privately owned and community properties transformed into beneficial wildlife habitat. 

 

How the program works:  Any property owner in our community may request a Habitat Advisor visit. Volunteer Habitat Advisors typically spend an hour visiting a home, neighborhood site, or business. They walk the property together with the client, discussing questions and circumstances unique to the site. Advisors ask about the owners’ vision for the property. They talk with the property owner about native plants and landscape elements that provide food, water, and shelter for birds, pollinators, and other wildlife. They discuss important topics like garden structure, lawn reduction, invasive plant removal, native plantings, water conservation, and bird protection. Together, advisors and property owners set priorities and a plan of action. The Habitat Advisors provide carefully selected materials, write a follow-up report, and make themselves available for further assistance if needed. Contact greenteam@ci.middletown.md.us for more information or to schedule a visit.

 

The Advisors volunteer their time and knowledge because they believe that, working yard by yard, we will make a difference.  They do not present themselves as the experts, but as collaborators with each homeowner or community member who has requested assistance. 

GUIDELINES for CREATING WILDLIFE HABITAT

1. PLANT NATIVES - Reduce lawn areas and introduced (non-native) plants. Remove invasive plants. Replace them with native trees, shrubs, and perennials, which provide greater benefit to wildlife and the environment.

2. PROVIDE STRUCTURE - Plant in layers - overstory canopy, understory canopy, shrub layer, and ground layer to assure that each creature has its optimum niche. Plant densely. This leaves little space and sun for weeds and invasive plants. Plant in clearly designated beds and strips with paths and borders as cues to care. It is obvious to observers that your garden is planned and cared for.

3. PROVIDE FOOD - Native plants provide birds, pollinators and other wildlife with the highest nutritional value in the four food groups they require: berries, nuts and seeds, insects, and nectar. Select natives to provide continuous bloom. Feeders can be used as a supplemental source of food.

4. PROVIDE SHELTER AND HOUSING - Every layer and form of plant material is home to some type of wildlife. Organic debris, snags, dead wood, groundcover, and dense shrubs offer nesting sites, hiding places and winter protection for birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians and small mammals. Human-made structures like bird and bee houses can provide additional housing.

5. USE YOUR WATER - Practice water conservation by keeping rainwater on site using rain barrels, rain gardens, and pervious paving. Provide wildlife with clean and accessible sources of water for drinking and bathing.

6. REPLACE HERBICIDES, INSECTICIDES, AND FERTILIZERS - Chemical treatments harm people and the natural world and native plants don't require them. The beneficial insects that natives attract are natural enemies to those we consider pests, so they substitute for insecticides. Leaf litter and compost encourage naturally occurring microbes in the soil and eliminate the need for fertilizers.


7. PROVIDE SAFETY AND SAFE HAVEN - Our homes and gardens can be dangerous places for birds and other wildlife. Use window treatments to reduce reflectivity and avoid bird collisions. Keep cats indoors. Remove cover plants near bird feeders so predators cannot hide. Limit outdoor lights to protect wildlife.

8. SPREAD THE WORD - Together can we build a habitat network. Support the movement by posting a certification sign, by talking to your neighbors, and by promoting community wildlife habitat projects.

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Resources

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