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Each spring New Jersey is host to the largest concentration of shorebirds in North America.
Backyard Wildlife Habitats in New Jersey
No matter where you live in New Jersey, you can have a positive impact on wildlife. Here you can learn ways to improve your backyard for local wildlife.
Addressing the Need
In New Jersey, more than half of the state is developed. This development has degraded, damaged, or destroyed a large percentage of wildlife habitats. It has caused many common species to decline in numbers because of loss of habitat. By providing habitat, even in small spaces, you can have an impact and help to reverse their decline. Your backyard can attract birds, butterflies, beneficial insects, small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants provide food and cover for wildlife. Ponds provide watering sites for birds and mammals and provide breeding sites for many reptiles and amphibians. Here we will demonstrate several ways that you can attract and benefit wildlife in your backyard.
Habitat Types and Treatments
To help attract wildlife to your backyard you can install or create several different features to do so. These features are designed to provide both food and cover for wildlife.
They provide cover and breeding sites for ground nesting birds and small mammals including chipmunks and white-footed mice.
Ponds and wetlands
Many are critical for many species to survive. Mammals and birds are attracted to these areas to drink. Wading birds, like herons and egrets feed on frogs and tadpoles and waterfowl eat aquatic vegetation. Seasonal wetlands or vernal pools are more important for wildlife, especially frogs, toads, and salamanders since they do not contain fish, which eat their eggs and larvae.
Meadows and grasslands
They contain wildflowers and warm-season grasses provide both food and cover for wildlife. Warm-season grasses provide food (from the grasses themselves) and from the invertebrates that are attracted to them. They can also survive severe droughty periods and need little maintenance once established. There is also little to no need for pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Creating a meadow is as easy as choosing to not mow a portion of your yard. Eventually the site will colonize with native grasses and wildflowers like Switchgrass, goldenrods, asters, and Common milkweed. Some species that utilize grasslands are the Bobolink, Savannah sparrow, Grasshopper sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark, Field sparrow, Vesper sparrow, Northern bobwhite, Wild turkey, and other small game birds.
This is a critical tool for reconnecting fragmented habitat. Forested areas, large or small provide habitat for many species of birds for nesting and during migration. By planting “bare-root” or “balled-root” trees you can speed up natural succession and provide both food and cover for wildlife.
This habitat type is also known as an early successional habitat, and without proper management can become a forest. When forests become fragmented, a “hard-edge” is created, with little or no transition from a forest to a lawn or meadow. Planting shrubs can create an important “transitional zone” along with food and cover for migratory birds.
Landscaping for Wildlife
Here are several files that are available for download. Each of the files will give you "how to" instructions on creating each one of these habitat features in your backyard.
Landscaping for Wildlife - 1.2MB
Landscaping for Wildlife - Brush Pile - 606.0KB
Landscaping for Wildlife - Forests - 564.1KB
Landscaping for Wildlife - Shrubs - 824.7KB
Landscaping for Wildlife - Wildflowers - 691.9KB
Find Related Info: Habitat Restoration
Explore our online field guide that depicts over 170 species of rare wildlife in New Jersey and learn about how we are working to protect them.