Spring planting can be for the birds, the butterflies
Effort coordinated by several organizations
FORSYTH — As spring arrives, backyard gardeners and landscapers begin the yearly task of beautifying their outdoor environments.
The GeorgiaWildlife Resources Division recommends that amateur and professional gardeners, regardless of their yard’s size, consider building a place for wildlife while planning for spring gardens.
“When planting or landscap- ing for spring, utilize plants beneficial to wildlife and keep in mind the following tips,” said Jim Ozier, a program manager with the division’s Nongame Conservation Section. “These helpful hints are sure to enhance the beauty of yards and gardens and attract a variety of wildlife for viewing enjoyment.”
• Plant fruit-producing shrubs like native crabapple, serviceberry, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, dogwoods and wax myrtle. To attract songbirds including cardinals, robins, bluebirds, orioles, brownthrashers and mockingbirds, plant in clumps, clusters or islands. Cover provides nesting areas for birds and small mammals, as well as shelter from predators and inclement weather.
• Always use caution when using pesticides. Overuse or misuse of lawn chemicals can harm wildlife. Contact a local Cooperative Extension Service with questions about amounts and types of pesticides to use.
• Create a pool as a birdbath and gathering place for wildlife. A pool can be as simple as a small pond or as elaborate as an in-ground reservoir with waterfalls. Also, shallow birdbaths make excellent landscaping focal points.
• Don’t forget the butterflies. Cultivate nectar-producing plants such as salvia, lantana, butterfly bush, milkweeds, blazing star, impatiens and verbena to provide butterfly-viewing opportunities and add an array of color to backyard habitats. Planting butterfly larval host plants like hollyhock, fennel, violets, pawpawand asters will also encourage butterflies to come to your garden.
• Remember the field guide and binoculars. Watching wildlife can be fun for the entire family, especially considering Georgia’s rich diversity of wild animals and plants. Close-focusing (6 feet or less) binoculars allow you to observe butterflies up close. Field guides to birds and butterflies are great resources in helping identify species.
• Use native plants. Native wildlife is adapted to the plants, and they are adapted to surviving under local conditions with little need for extra fertilizer or water.
• With proper planning any yard can feature trees, shrubs and other plants that will provide food, shelter and habitat for wildlife. For more information on spring planting for birds and but- terflies, visit Wildlife Resources’ Web site, www.georgiawildlife. com, click “Nongame Animals & Plants” and choose “Backyard Wildlife – Wildlife in Your Backyard.”
Donations to the “Give Wildlife a Chance” State Income Tax Checkoff and sales of wildlife license plates featuring a bald eagle or a ruby-throated hummingbird support conservation projects for nongame wildlife and plants in Georgia. The nongame plates are the primary source of funding for Wildlife Resources’ Nongame Conservation Section, which receives no state funding.