Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Feeding Area

Good wildlife habitat provides three essential ingredients; Food, Water and Cover. It makes no difference if one or more of the components are provided in an unnatural manner. All three are required in order to reduce stress on the animal and allow it to behave in a natural manner. I supply the food and the water is in the pond about 100 feet away, so I have to supply some cover. Loose branches laid at the base and propped on the trunk of this old apple tree provide cover for species such as Juncos and sparrows that prefer to stay low to the ground.

The branches are packed tightly enough to discourage entry by most predators, whether winged or four legged, but allow plenty of open space for bird movement. The surrounding area is left unmowed and provides a stand of mixed tall grass and forbs. It doesn’t take long for the deer and turkey to knock down all but the toughest stalks. There’s not a lot of predator pressure here. The cover is more of a secure place to rest and loaf and meets the instinctive need wild animals have for a safe haven.

The cover begins at ground level and continues right up into the trees. When startled, each species heads for a different level. The flock is sorted by type as some species head for ground cover, others go to low branches and the rest move for the tree tops.

The birds use these same escape levels while resting. When the doves have finished feeding, they head for the higher branches to rest and preen.

Even though the two feeding spots are only about 25 feet apart, the birds from each head for different cover. The birds from this spot head into the apple tree.

If I were interested in producing better apples, I’d thin out all of those small branches and open the center of the tree to sunlight. I think I’ll just leave it for the birds.

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