Make Room for Wildlife

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden is a Certified Wildlife Habitat

This won’t come as a surprise if you’ve been to Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, but in August the National Wildlife Federation recognized us as an official Certified Wildlife Habitat site.

From hawks to butterflies, the Garden attracts a multitude of wildlife. Habitats not only nurture year-round resident birds but also provide stopover sites for migratory birds. Biologist Mark Hostetier of the University of Florida says that “urban environments are an important factor in the future conservation of many species. Not only has urban sprawl grown into the paths of stopover sites on bird flyways, but the sheer volume of human development has changed the amount of area available for nesting and overwintering.”

To become certified by the National Wildlife Federation, a property provides the four basic elements that all wildlife need—food, water, cover and places to raise offspring. In addition, certified habitats conserve natural resources by reducing or eliminating the need for fertilizers, pesticides and/or irrigation water, which ultimately protects the air, soil and water.

Any nature enthusiast can create a certified habitat and reap the rewards of gardening for wildlife. A certified site can range in size from urban balconies to many acres.

Here is what you need to do to create a garden that attracts beautiful wildlife and helps restore habitat in commercial and residential areas.

Provide Food for Wildlife
Planting native forbs, shrubs and trees provide the foliage, nectar, pollen, berries, seeds and nuts that many species of wildlife require to thrive. You can also incorporate supplemental feeders and food sources.

Supply Water for Wildlife
Wildlife need clean water sources for many purposes, including drinking, bathing and reproduction. Water sources may include natural features such as ponds, lakes, rivers, springs, oceans and wetlands; or human-made features such as bird baths, installed ponds or rain gardens. ?

Create Cover for Wildlife
Wildlife require places to hide to feel safe from people, predators and inclement weather. Use things like native vegetation, shrubs, thickets and brush piles or even dead trees.

Give Wildlife a Place to Raise Their Young
Many places for cover can double as locations where wildlife can raise young, from wildflower meadows and bushes where many butterflies and moths lay their eggs, or caves where bats roost.

Let Your Garden Go Green
Reducing chemical use, composting, mulching and reducing turf grass in your yard are important steps to gardening greener and providing habitat for native wildlife.

Visit the National Wildlife Federation to learn more about becoming a Certified Wildlife Habitat.