By Barbara Coulter
The drought has been a source of news headlines, but no one is covering the devastation of our wildlife.
Francis Mangels, retired (35 years) USDA wildlife biologist and scientist, took me on a six hour drive in the wild lands around McCloud. It was his territory, and we have been monitoring the drought effects for several years. This year was the worst.
The berry and seed plants the wildlife depends on for survival have failed to produce. Thousands of acres of manzanita, serviceberry and seed plants are barren, creating a virtual food desert.
It means there will be a silent, unseen disaster as a mass die-off of various species occurs this winter. The only publicity will be in the wildlife magazines, and those thousands of readers are doing what they can to help the helpless.
What can one person do? Join with the people who care, and the thousands who are providing food and water on whatever scale they can.
It may only be a couple of hummingbird feeders and a seed feeder or two, and a bird bath or two in the yard, even if that yard is only 10 feet across. That is enough to save the lives of those birds, and it is passed forward as they reproduce next spring and keep the species alive.
It is really great if you can consider joining an organization that is dedicated to educating people on just how to help wildlife and create habitat in your yard.
Francis and I belong to the National Wildlife Federation and whether you join or not there is all the information you need online provided for free. Itís included in their certification website, where they can direct you to sites to show you what to do regardless of certifying.
Remember, anything you can do is helping, and just watching the joy of the birds feeding and ecstatically splashing in my bird baths makes it worth it.
If you have more yard area and want to go further you can create a WWF Certified Wildlife Habitat. There are minimum requirements, easy to meet, as you simply provide food, water, cover and places to raise young.
That translates to a shallow platter or bird bath for waterers, one or more feeders, some bushes for hiding in and maybe nesting, and some bird houses, Audubon approved.
That last is the reason to learn what to do, because some bird houses sold commercially will actually kill the babies from heat or inability to exit. Likewise, some nursery ornamental flowers are lethal to bees. Learning about all this opens up a whole new world, a new way of looking at our old world.
The WWF site to visit is www.nwf.org/wildlifegardening where you will find where to go for habitat information and how to do it.
Francis and I have created an integrated Certified Wildlife (and vegetable) Habitat in the suburbs where we live. Our quarter acre yard is a mini-farm, and you leave the suburbs when you enter.
We have mature grapevines bordering the yard nearly all around our perimeter, and beds and bushes of perennial and annual vegetables and herbs sustain wildlife and us. Visitors are welcome, please call ahead to 227-6294.

By Barbara Coulter The drought has been a source of news headlines, but no one is covering the devastation of our wildlife. Francis Mangels, retired (35 years) USDA wildlife biologist and scientist, took me on a six hour drive in the wild lands around McCloud. It was his territory, and we have been monitoring the drought effects for several years. This year was the worst. The berry and seed plants the wildlife depends on for survival have failed to produce. Thousands of acres of manzanita, serviceberry and seed plants are barren, creating a virtual food desert. It means there will be a silent, unseen disaster as a mass die-off of various species occurs this winter. The only publicity will be in the wildlife magazines, and those thousands of readers are doing what they can to help the helpless. What can one person do? Join with the people who care, and the thousands who are providing food and water on whatever scale they can. It may only be a couple of hummingbird feeders and a seed feeder or two, and a bird bath or two in the yard, even if that yard is only 10 feet across. That is enough to save the lives of those birds, and it is passed forward as they reproduce next spring and keep the species alive. It is really great if you can consider joining an organization that is dedicated to educating people on just how to help wildlife and create habitat in your yard. Francis and I belong to the National Wildlife Federation and whether you join or not there is all the information you need online provided for free. Itís included in their certification website, where they can direct you to sites to show you what to do regardless of certifying. Remember, anything you can do is helping, and just watching the joy of the birds feeding and ecstatically splashing in my bird baths makes it worth it. If you have more yard area and want to go further you can create a WWF Certified Wildlife Habitat. There are minimum requirements, easy to meet, as you simply provide food, water, cover and places to raise young. That translates to a shallow platter or bird bath for waterers, one or more feeders, some bushes for hiding in and maybe nesting, and some bird houses, Audubon approved. That last is the reason to learn what to do, because some bird houses sold commercially will actually kill the babies from heat or inability to exit. Likewise, some nursery ornamental flowers are lethal to bees. Learning about all this opens up a whole new world, a new way of looking at our old world. The WWF site to visit is www.nwf.org/wildlifegardening where you will find where to go for habitat information and how to do it. Francis and I have created an integrated Certified Wildlife (and vegetable) Habitat in the suburbs where we live. Our quarter acre yard is a mini-farm, and you leave the suburbs when you enter. We have mature grapevines bordering the yard nearly all around our perimeter, and beds and bushes of perennial and annual vegetables and herbs sustain wildlife and us. Visitors are welcome, please call ahead to 227-6294.