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Please send your question regarding habitat development and gardening for birds to gardening@birdzilla.com. We'll answer as many as we can and post selected answers here.

Q. Wildlife doesn't just randomly occur in a given area; it is there in response to habitat which meets its needs. What are the four essential elements of a wildlife habitat, including for birds?
DF - Atlanta, GA

A. Food, water, cover (protection from weather and predators) and space to raise a family.

Tom Patrick is president of the Windstar Wildlife Institute. Tom's company provides training and certification in wildlife habitat development programs. Thanks to Tom and some of his Certified Wildlife Habitat Naturalists for answering the questions.

Q. Feeders are used to supplement the foods provided by trees, shrubs, flowers, crops in food plots, vines and ground covers. What are the different types of feeders?
TR - LA, CA.

A. Cylindrical, hopper, suet, hummingbird, squirrel and fruit.

 

South Carolina Plants for Wildlife Habitat & Conservation Landscaping
Do you enjoy observing nature...hearing the song of the chickadee...watching hummingbirds fill up on nectar from trumpet vines...listening to the chattering of squirrels...seeing the beauty and grace of a monarch butterfly perched on a milkweed... experiencing the antics of a Mockingbird...the cooing of the Mourning Doves...the swiftness of the Cottontail...and the brilliance of a Cardinal or Baltimore Oriole?

If the answer is "yes", you'll probably want to landscape your property for wildlife so you can experience even more from Mother Nature by attracting more wildlife to your property.

Wildlife doesn't just randomly appear in a given area. It is there because of favorable habitat. The essential elements that you must provide in your habitat are food, water, cover and a place to raise a family. To attract the most wildlife, you need native trees, shrubs, groundcover, vines and wildflowers, many of which will provide food and shelter.

Native or indigenous plants naturally occur in the region in which they evolved. They are adapted to local soil, rainfall and temperature conditions, and have developed natural defenses to many insects and diseases. Because of these traits, native plants will grow with minimal use of water, fertilizers and pesticides. Wildlife species evolve with plants; therefore, they use native plant communities as their habitat. Using native plants helps preserve the balance and beauty of natural ecosystems.

Remember the function served by plants and structures is more important than their appearance. In other words, don't base your planting decisions solely on what a plant looks like. Following are WindStar Wildlife Institute's plant recommendations for wildlife habitats in South Carolina.

Trees
Tall -- Canadian Hemlock; White, Red, Chestnut and Post Oak; Black Cherry; Shagbark and Pignut Hickory; Red and Sugar Maple; Yellow Buckeye; Yellow, Sweet and River Birch; Beech; Tulip Tree; Sycamore; Red Spruce; American Linden

Medium/Small -- Serviceberry; Eastern Redbud; Flowering and Pagoda Dogwood; American Holly; Southern Crabapple, Eastern Red Cedar; American Hornbeam; Washington Hawthorn; Common Sassafras; Sourwood; American Plum; Persimmon; Blackhaw Viburnum

Shrubs
Short -- New Jersey Tea; Carolina and Swamp Rose; Cranberry; Lowbush Blueberry; Maple-leaf Viburnum

Medium -- Red and Black Chokeberry; Sweetshrub; Silky Dogwood; Hazelnut; Bush Honeysuckle; Common Winterberry; Mountain Laurel; Spicebush; Sweet and Flame Azalea; Elderberry; Coral Berry; Highbush Blueberry

Large -- Tag Alder; Mountain Winterberry; Mock Orange; Smooth Sumac; Silky Willow; Arrowwood

Wildflowers
Butterflyweed; Carolina Phlox; Wild Columbine; Jack-in-the- pulpit; Swamp Milkweed; White and Late Purple Aster; Wild Indigo; Pink Turtlehead; Coreopsis; Joe-Pye Weed; Shooting Star; Wild Geranium; Sunflower; Jewelweed; Blazing Star; Cardinal Flower; Bee Balm; Black-eyed Susan; Winkle-leaf Goldenrod

Groundcovers
Wintergreen; Wild Ginger; Mouse-eared Coreopsis; Partridge Berry; Chalice, wild Blue and Creeping Phlox; Foamflower

Vines
Dutchman's Pipe; Crossvine; Trumpet Creeper; Virgin's Bower; Coral Honeysuckle; Passion Flower; Fox Grape; Virginia Creeper; Coral Honeysuckle

Grasses
Indiangrass; Little Bluestem; Eastern Gama Grass; Bottlebrush Grass; Broomsedge; Switchgrass; River Oats; Oat Grass; Pennsylvania and Plantain-leaved Sedge; River Cane

Three geographic land areas define South Carolina; the Atlantic Coastal Plain, the Peidmont, and the Blue Ridge region. Two-thirds of South Carolina is covered by the Atlantic Coastal Plain, from the Atlantic Ocean extending to the west. The land rises gradually from the southeast to the northwest. An area of the Atlantic Coastal Plain, defined as extending from the coast about 70 miles inland, is referred to as the Outer Coastal Plain. This area is quite flat. Many rivers can be found in the Outer Coastal Plain with swamps near the coast that extend inland along the rivers. An area called the Inner Coastal Plain consists of rolling hills. In the central Atlantic Coastal Plain is an area of forested land called the Pine Barrens. On the western edge of the Atlantic Coastal Plain, running from the southwest to the northeast, is a line of sand hills. To the northwest of the Atlantic Coastal Plain is the Peidmont. The landscape consists of rolling hills; gentler in the east and more hilly to the west and northwest. The Blue Ridge covers the northwestern corner of South Carolina. Part of the larger Blue Ridge that extends from southern Pennsylvania south to Georgia, the South Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains are lower and less rugged than the mountains in North Carolina. The forest covered Blue Ridge Mountains of South Carolina rarely exceed 3,000 feet above sea level. The Southern Appalachian Botanical Society can provide lists of plants for a specific region.

For more information on improving your wildlife habitat, visit the WindStar Wildlife Institute web site. On the web site, you can also apply to certify your property as a wildlife habitat, register for the "Certified Wildlife Habitat Naturalist e-Learning course, become a member and sign up for the FREE WindStar Wildlife Garden Weekly e-mail newsletter.


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