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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.


Tennessee 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 Tennessee.

Hornbean; Red Buckeye; River Birch; Hackberry; Redbud; Fringe Tree; Flowering Dogwood; Witch Hazel; Possum Haw; American Holly; Black Walnut; Sweet Gum; Sweetbay; Black Gum; Sourwood; Shortleaf and Loblolly Pine; Sycamore; Wild Plum; Carolina Buckthorn

Downy Serviceberry; Juneberry; Indigo Bush; American Beautyberry; Carolina Allspice; Buttonbush; Pogoda Dogwood; Southern Bush Honeysuckle; Wahoo; Yaupon; Winterberry; Spicebush; Christmas Berry; Huckleberry; Shining and Smooth Sumac; Sparkleberry; Black Haw; Witherod Viburnum

Sweet Flag; Blue Star; Columbine; Jack-in-the-pulpit; Wild Ginger; Swamp Milkweed; Butterflyweed; Bushy, New England and Frost Aster; White False Indigo; Wild Hyacinth; American Bellflower; Turtlehead; Early and Tall Coreopsis; Shooting Star; Purple Coneflower; Rattlesnake Master; Joe- pye Weed; Narrow-leaved and Ox-eye Sunflower; Marsh Blazing Star; Gayfeather; Blazing Star; Cardinal Flower; Great Blue Lobelia; Partridge Berry; Carolina and Blue Phlox; Black-eyed Susan; Cut-leaf Coneflower; Golden Ragwort; Blue-stemmed, Sweet and Rough-leaved Goldenrod; Foam Flower; Rose Vervain; Common Blue and Birdsfoot Violet

Crossvine; Virgin's Bower; Yellow Jessamine, Coral Honeysuckle; Virginia Creeper; Passionflower

Big and Little Bluestem; Broom Sedge; Switchgrass; Inland Sea Oats; Purple Lovegrass; Sugarcane Plume; Bottlebrush; Gulf Muhly; Indiangrass; Eastern Gamagrass

Stretching 440 miles from east to west, Tennessee characterized by 6 main land regions; The Blue Ridge, the Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region, the Appalachian Plateau, the Highland Rim, the Nashville Basin and the Gulf Coastal Plain. The Blue Ridge area lies on the eastern edge of Tennessee is characterized by high mountains, including the Great Smoky Mountains, the Chilhowee Mountains, and the Snowbird Mountains. The Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region is covered by fertile valleys separated by wooded ridges. The Appalachian Platieau is covered with flat-topped mountains separated by sharp valleys. The Highland Rim is an elevated plain that surrounds the Nashville Basin.The Nashville Basin is characterized by rich, fertile farm country. The Gulf Coastal Plain is, in terms of area, the predominant land region in Tennessee. The Gulf Coastal Plain is divided into three sections that extend from the Tennessee River, in the east, to the Mississippi River in the west. The Tennessee Native Plant 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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