November 2023 Newsletter

Wildlife Food Sources & Shelter  

   The first way we can make a difference is to start keeping the bird feeders filled during the winter.  Suet is great in winter because it is high in fat.  Provide a water source like a heated bird baths or a water bowl checked on frequently in winter months.  These are great to start with, but more can be done to help.

    An easy, little-to-no effort tactic to help with winter shelter is LEAVE THE LEAVES. If you must take the leaves off your precious lawn, then rake piles of leaves into garden areas or back corner of yard. These piles make ideal winter housing for amphibians.  Also caterpillars, moths, native bees and other invertebrates find over winter homes in these leaves.  Another no effort option to create shelter is not cutting back and cleaning up gardens before winter.  Many insects also hibernate in hollow stems of faded perennials or dead wood.  Then the key is to wait until late spring to clean up. By then, hibernation has ended and there is no risk in harming the winter inhabitants of the dead plant matter.   


Larger properties with a wooded area, should leave the dead trees alone, if possible.  'Snags', as they are referred to in forestry, are an important component of the forest.  Snags and logs contribute a large portion of the woody biomass in a healthy forest.  Plus,  they give homes for birds, bats, invertebrates and small mammals, which in turn feed larger predators.  


If you would like to really take action to help with winter shelter, buy or make nesting boxes and/or bat houses to place on your property. These ensure winged mammals find a home at your home.  The boxes should be placed high up out of reach from predators and protected from the elements as much as possible.  Remember to clean them out each season.  Creating a pond is a very good habitat for wildlife for all seasons.  Water depth should be 18 to 24 inches deep at minimum and have an open hole in the ice for gas exchange. The depth ensures the water and amphibious friends do not freeze solid during the coldest part of our Canadian winters. 



     Skipping winter clean up also provides wildlife with a food source.  Not only will the uncut Coneflower create winter interest in the garden, the seeds left will be eaten by birds and other critters.  Joe Pye Weed  flower heads grow a mass of seeds too.  Native grasses will have the same impact in the garden at winter time.  Wild roses left untouched, produce rose hips to eat, they are red, fleshy fruit with seeds inside. 


Berries as seen in picture above  are an excellent food source.  There are several native species of berry producing shrubs to choose from like Highbush Cranberry, Elderberry, Nannyberry, Chokecherry and Smooth Arrowwood are good choices.  Make a hedge out of these shrubs and create a food source and shelter at the same time! 


Staghorn Sumac form cone shaped clusters of fruit with a waxy outer layer, a fleshy middle layer, and the seeds at the core.  The bright red clusters stand out really well in the snow. It's bark is also used to eat by rabbits, foxes, squirrels, deer and moose.    


Native willows such as the native Black, Peachleaf, Pussy, Bebbs or Sandbar Willow are important sources of food for many different species of animals such as deer, elk, moose, rabbits, beavers, and porcupines. They browse all plant material of Willows, leaves, twigs and the bark. In addition, willows provide habitat for many different species of birds and small mammals.  

  If you're looking for ways to make a positive impact on your local wildlife, consider purchasing native plants. Our selection of both potted stock and bare-root native trees, shrubs, and perennials are perfect for creating a flourishing garden and providing habitat for local wildlife. Visit our website to browse our selection.

Name: Garrett Smith

Job Title: Potted Stock Grower

Describe the Position:  Oversee the planting and growing of the potted trees and shrubs, organize potted stock orders and help team members in greenhouse duties.

What Do You Love About Your Job:  Interesting to see the development of seed growth to final plant stage.

Why did you choose to work at FTN:  To give back to the environment, growing genetically diverse trees from locally sourced seed

Best Thing About FTN:  Assist in conservation and forestry efforts.

Favorite Tree: Bitternut Hickory Shrub: Smooth Arrowwood Perennial: Pale Coneflower

Resources: NWF, Plantura, Wikipedia