FLORIDA WILDLIFE HABITATS A guide to establishing and certifying your habitat Florida Wildlife Federation
Welcome to the World of Wildlife Habitats The Florida Wildlife Federation, working with the National Wildlife Federation, offers this expanded education and certification program to help you plan and certify your habitat. The goal is to promote gardening in Florida that will help support native animals that are losing their living spaces to Florida’s rapidly expanding development. The program was launched in 1973, and has certified the habitats of more than 110,000 sites in the U. S., which includes more than 3000 school sites. Florida has passed the 6000 certified habitat mark, making our state first in the nation. We have made this power point presentation to help you plan and plant your habitat. It will also appear on our website, www.fwfonline.org. We have included materials that will be of interest to you as you work at establishing your habitat using materials with a special Florida flavor. We have included information about the certification application so you can familiarize yourself with what you will need to do to achieve that goal. Florida Wildlife Federation does not perform the certification. Certification must be done through National Wildlife Federation. A printed National Wildlife Federation certification application is available at our Tallahassee offices. Simply call (850) 656-7113 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and request that we mail you an application. You can also be certified electronically directly from National Wildlife Federation, using the link that you will find on the first page of the habitat section on our website, and you can download an application to fill out by hand and mail in from that site. We wish you the best of luck and enjoyment with constructing your habitat. We are here at the above telephone number and e-mail address to help you with advice or problems. Happy Gardening!
THE BASICS • 1. Grow plants that provide wildlife with a natural food source such as nuts, berries or nectar, or offer supplemental feeders. • 2. Provide water for wildlife with a birdbath, small pond, or shallow dish. • 3. Offer protective cover for wildlife by providing a ground cover, a hollow log or rock piles, dense shrubs or a roosting box. • 4. Provide places for wildlife to raise young such as a water garden, a pond or a nesting box. • 5. Practice sustainable gardening by mulching, composting or by reducing your lawn area. Please watch what you plant in your garden. Species not native to your region can become invasive and harmful to both people and wildlife. This page adapted from a National Wildlife Federation publication.
PREVIEW OF APPLICATION QUESTIONS The questions you will be asked on the National Wildlife Federation Wildlife Habitat Certification Application form have check-off spaces, and are generally as follows: 1. Your name, e-mail address (if applicable) phone number, address and general description of the habitat property. • Type of wildlife habitat supports (insect, bird, mammal, etc.) • What kind of food you supply (seeds and berries, meadow grasses or leaves, and/or types of feeders, etc.) (3 are required) • How do you supply water (birdbath, pond, stream, etc.) (2 are required) • How do you supply places to raise young (trees, meadows, nesting boxes, etc.) (2 are required) • A list of the kinds of plants you have (trees, vines, evergreens, meadow grasses, etc.) • Sustainable gardening practices you maintain (reduction in lawn area and erosion, mulching, elimination of pesticide use, a rain garden, etc.) (2 are required)
WHY NATIVE PLANTSandWHY NOT EXOTIC PLANTS? Native plants often have fewer pest and disease problems than lawns and exotic (non-native) plants. Because natives are also adapted to local temperature and rainfall patterns, they require less watering and fertilizing to maintain sound health. Native plants provide better nutritional requirements for native animals, and are the basis for delicately balanced food webs. Selecting native plants for landscaping is ecologically responsible. In Florida, about 900 exotic plants have been added to the choices of plants used to beautify areas. Of these, about 400 plants have already invaded natural areas where they aggressively compete with Florida natives. Several of the most aggressive plants have drastically changed the Florida landscape both ecologically and visually. In North Florida, the most aggressive non-native is the kudzu vine, Pueraria labata. Kudzu vine can turn a small pine forest into a green nightmare in just a few years. There is nothing left there for native wildlife. The vine has created a “desert” for them. Melaleuca quinquenervia was purposely introduced into South Florida as a landscape tree early in the 20th century to stop soil erosion. Unfortunately, it also destroys habitat and wildlife. INVASIVE EXOTICS ARE VISITORS THAT NEVER LEAVE!
FLORIDA’S TOP 10 UNDESIRABLE PLANTS 1. Brazilian Pepper Once sold as a landscape ornamental, it now infests more than 700,000 acres in central and south Florida. 2. Australian Melaleuca Tree Introduced to south Florida in 1906 and planted as windbreaks, it has invaded 1.5 million acres and is taking over an additional 50 acres every day, It produces little of use to wildlife. 3. Skunk Vine A pernicious, pesky, smelly plant now in 18 counties. It smothers underbrush and strangles trees. 4. Tropical Soda Apple Covers 500,000 acres of Florida pastures, roadsides, ditch banks, cultivated and natural areas. 5. Cogon Grass Found in sandhills, flatwoods, grasslands, swamps and river margins throughout the state. Its rough edges will slice the skin. Cogon grass produces chemicals that inhibit growth of other plants. 6. Australian Pine Grows in pinelands, sandy shores and dunes, where its dense shade and chemicals from leaf litter displace native vegetation. Sea turtles become entangled and trapped in the trees’ exposed roots. 7. Water Hyacinth and Hydrilla Hydrilla has invaded about 40 percent of the state’s rivers and lakes. Florida DEP estimates it will spend $100 million in a decade to control hydrilla and water hyacinth. 8. Chinese Tallow Sometimes called the popcorn tree, it first arrived in Florida in the late 1700s. Ben Franklin was a fan. It thrives in undisturbed areas such as canopy forests, bottomland hardwood forests, lake shores and floating islands. 9. Air Potato Climbs high into tree canopies and engulfs surrounding vegetation 10. Kudzu Introduced in Florida in the 1920s, it infests 7 million acres throughout the southeastern United States. Kudzu forms a dense thicket of little use to wildlife and crowds out other plants, disrupting the ecosystem.
Bird Feeding – Do and Don’t • Do keep your feeders clean, dump all old seed and hulls before refilling them. Disinfect with • ¼ cup of bleach to 2 gallons of warm water every few weeks. Rinse and allow to air dry • before refilling. • Do move your feeding station when the ground beneath it becomes covered with seed hulls • and droppings. Rake the old site to remove hulls and to give the grass a chance to recover. • Don’t use grease, oils or petroleum jelly, or similar substances to thwart ants, squirrels, • or other feeder-raiding creatures. If these substances come in contact with bird feathers • they are impossible for the bird to preen or wash out. Gooey feathers can become • useless for flight or insulation. Baffles and ant guards are available in many stores. • Don’t put out any more seed than can be eaten by nightfall. Don’t allow seed to become • and stay wet. In rainy weather, feed only from covered feeders that will keep seed dry, • or put out only a handful of seed at a time on platforms. • Do, if you see a sick or dead bird at your feeder, halt your feeding for a few weeks to allow • the healthy birds to disperse. This lessens the possibility of disease transmission. • Don’t provide suet in the summer. It can become rancid and unhealthy for birds and • cause the same problems for their feathers as grease, oils and petroleum jelly.
Attracting Hummingbirds Tiny, shiny hummingbirds can be a wonderful addition to your habitat. If hummingbirds live in your area, you can attract them by planting red, tubular flowers, and there are many flowers of that description to choose from. Many North American plants are pollinated exclusively by hummingbirds. Check with your local nursery for the best native plants for attracting hummingbirds in your area. Hummingbird feeders are an excellent way to supplement the birds diet when flowers aren’t blooming, and to arrange to have them feeding in a spot easy for you to view them. Fill feeders with a boiled solution of four parts of water to one part of white, refined sugar or a commercial “nectar” mix. Do not use honey solutions in feeders, as this may produce a fungal disease fatal to the birds. Feeders should be washed every 3 to 5 days using a mild detergent solution and a brush, rinsed well, and allowed to air dry before refilling. • The Cuban bee hummingbird is the smallest bird in the world, 2 ½ inches long, about the size of a bumblebee. • Hummingbirds can hover like a helicopter, or move forward, sideways or backward. • A ruby-throated hummingbird, weighing about 1/10 of an ounce, can migrate 600 miles. • Hummingbirds not only sip nectar, but also eat tiny insects and spiders, and may drink up to 8 times their body weight in water every day. • Hummingbirds’ body temperature is about 103 degrees F in the daytime, it may drop to 70 degrees F at night. They can endure temporary cool weather or cool nights by becoming dormant. • The 340 species of hummingbirds are found only in the western hemisphere. • Hummingbird wing beats have been measured at 20 – 200 beats per second. • The ruby-throated hummingbird is our most common “hummer.”
Attracting Butterflies • Resident butterfly populations in your yard require both larval and nectar (adult) foods. • Different kinds of butterflies require different plantings of shrubs on which to lay eggs, which will develop into caterpillars and feed on the leaves of their host shrub. Therefore, plant those shrubs in a less visible area, as the caterpillars will eat the leaves and cause the shrubs to look less attractive. Nectar flowers for adult food can be placed where they can be easily seen and enjoyed. • Do not use pesticides or herbicides in or near the butterfly garden. • Flower colors that attract butterflies include orange, yellow, pink, purple and red. Deep-throated, drooping, or enclosed flowers are unsuitable for nectar-gathering. Wildflowers are great for attracting butterflies, though many hybridized flowers fail to attract. White flowers, and those emitting their fragrances at night, usually attract moths. Nectar Plants for Butterflies Trees Bottlebrush Citrus Wild Lime Buckeye Shrubs Azalea Butterfly Bush Fetterbush New Jersey Tea Vines, ground covers, and herbs Asters Thistle Clover Spanish Needle Coreopsis Yarrow Daisy Groundsel Grasses Gerardia Honeysuckle Sedums Lantana Liatris Phlox Queen Anne’s Lace Red Root VinesV Bedding Plants Calendula Impatiens Marigold (single) Petunia Sunflower Verbena Zinnia (single) Penta Scabiosa
Butterfly larval food plants Butterfly Plant needed for larvae and caterpillar Atala… coontie (Zamia floridana) Buckeye plantain (plantago spp.), snapdragon (Antirrhinum spp), Ludwigia spp, sedums Pearly Crescent asters (esp. native spp.), crownbeard (Verbesina occidentalis) Dogface clover (Trifolium spp.), leadplant (Amorta fruticosa) Gulf Frittilary passion vine (Passiflora incarnata) Florida leafwing croton (Croton llinearus) Goatweed butterfly croton (C. capitatum and C. monanthogynus)) Julia passion vines (Passiflora spp.) Monarch milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) Note: check with your county Extension Office for species Mourning Cloak elms (Ulmus spp.), willow (Salix spp.), hackberry (Celtis spp.) Painted Lady thistles (Circium spp.), many composits (Asteracea), mallows (Malvaciae) Queen milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) Note: check with your county Extension Office for species Red Admiral nettles (Urtica spp.), false nettle (Boehmaria cylindrica) Red-spotted Purple willows (Salix spp.), scrub oaks (Quercusspp.) Long-tailed skipper legumes (Fabaceae), crucifers (Brassicaceae) Orange-barred sulphur cassias (Cassia spp.) Common sulphur legumes (Fabaceae) Black swallowtail carrots, parsley, dill, Queen Anne’s Lace (Umbelliferae) Pipevine swallowtail pipevines Aristolochia spp.), knotweeds (Polyganum spp.) Palamedes swallowtail red bay (Persea borbonia), sweet bay (Magnolia virginiana), sassafras (Sassafras albidum) Schaus’ swallowtail torchwood (Amyris elimfera)), wild lime (Zanthoxylum fagara) Spicebush swallowtail spicebush (Lindera benzoin), red bay (Persea borbonia), sweet bay (Magnolia virginiana) Tiger swallowtail many broadleaf trees and shrubs, .willows (Salix spp.), tulip poplars (Liriodendrun tulipifera Zebra swallowtail pawpaws (Asimina spp.) Zebra Longwing passionvine (Passiflora spp.) ( Information adapted from Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission publication)
Reduce your lawn A gas mower pollutes as much in an hour as a car does driving for 350 miles. 30 to 60% of the potable water supply in the U.S. is used for maintaining lawns. 67 million pounds of synthetic pesticides are used on U.S. lawns annually. Lawn monocultures offer little habitat value for wildlife. • FIVE GOOD REASONS TO REDUCE YOUR LAWN • Save time and money that you would normally spend on mowing and fertilizing. • Increase your home’s energy efficiency. • Attract and provide for wildlife visitors. • Conserve water • Reduce mower pollution and decrease run-off from fertilizers and pesticides. • Adapted from a National Wildlife Federation publication. PLEASE! DO NOT USE CYPRESS MULCH. The commercial trade in cypress mulch is depleting and endangering Florida’s beautiful and unique Cypress Trees. These trees are not being grown and harvested in a sustainable manner. If you prefer a wood-chip mulch, look for Melaleuca mulch, which is made from one of the most invasive trees in Florida.
PowerPoint Presentation created byPatricia L. PearsonFlorida Wildlife FederationPO Box 6870Tallahassee, FL 32314-6870 • All photos in this presentation are from NWF certified habitats in Florida • All line drawings in this presentation are used with permission, or are in the public domain • Any pages or information from this presentation may be shown or copied, as long as Florida Wildlife Federation is credited.