We're a NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat

As you guys know by now, we've become bird people.  We're now running four different feeders, a birdbath and even installed a water wiggler to attract the birds with moving water.  And while we have plans to install even more landscaping, trees and (gasp!) even a water feature, we have quite a bit of existing trees, shrubs and brush in our #newoldbackyard.

We're pretty lucky to live on a mature and wooded lot with close proximity to a big pond (Barth Pond) and a creek that runs north from the pond behind some of our neighbor's houses.  That water source is a big factor in our neighborhood being able to attract and support wildlife.  Some of it is great!  Like birds and owls and hawks and rabbits and even foxes.  Some not so great?  Skunks and coyotes are also around.  Little Lizzie was skunked last fall and I'm sure it won't be the last time.

Now listen...we're not camping people.  Or at least I'm not a camping person.  But, I do love critters.  And with the lot we have, we're taking the opportunity with the birds and squirrels to engage the kids in all of the activities outside.  They've made feeders, helped keep them full and are always on the lookout for backyard visitors.  So, one way or another, I came across the National Wildlife Federation's Wildlife Garden Certification program and thought that with the kid's help, we could go through the process, help support the National Wildlife Federation and learn a little bit about nature along the way.

We downloaded the checklist and then on a warmer afternoon, all of us went out in the backyard and began to go through the checklist to see if we'd qualify.

Here's the checklist that you can use to pre-qualify for the program.

At each step, I asked the kids to figure out if we could meet the minimum requirements.  We went element-by-element to make sure we had something from each section.

Food:  you need three items from the list of either plantlife or supplemental feeders.
Water:  you need to have at least one item from the list of options
Cover:  you need two places to offer shelter from the weather and predators
Places to Raise Young: you need two places for wildlife to engage in 'courtship behavior, mate and then bear and raise their young'.
Sustainable Practices: Need to do something from two of the three categories.

So...what did we have for each section?  The kids helped find options and we discussed them for each section.  Here's where we landed:

Food We Have (Need three).

  • Seeds from a plant (we have native plants in the back of our lot)
  • Berries (we have raspberry plants)
  • Foliage/Twigs (boy...do we have twigs!)
  • Suet (we have a suet feeder)
  • Bird feeder (we have three of them)
  • Nuts (we have acorns from Oak trees and walnuts from Walnut trees)

Water We Have (Need one).

Cover We Have (Need two).

  • Wooded area (our whole lot is wooded)
  • Brush pile (we keep a brush pile in the far back part of our yard)
  • Ground cover (we have ground cover)
Places to Raise Young We Have (Need two).
  • Mature Trees
  • Dense Shrubs/Thicket
Sustainable Practices We Do (Need two).
So...off our submission and application fee went and we were allowed to order the sign you see above.  Because we're in Illinois - which is a state with a NWF affiliate partner (Illinois Prairie Rivers Network), our sign has both logos on the bottom.  

We're going to get to Menards and buy a post that we can affix the sign to and then install it in our yard.  I want to put it in our front yard to call attention to the effort and (maybe, just maybe) encourage our neighbors to join us in encouraging wildlife in our neighborhood.  Nat, though, wants it in the backyard.   Once the ground thaws a bit, I'll try to get it in and - of course - mark the occasion with a post here on the blog.  

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