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  More and more wild open spaces are being lost each year as people spread out and develop the land.   Shopping malls and housing developments are taking away land that was used by all kinds of wild animals.  Some of these animals can’t adjust and disappear, but some animals have learned to survive.  You can help them by making your yard a mini-nature preserve.  You might not realize it, but plenty of wild animals visit your backyard.  Some of them come out at night, some live underground, and some are very tiny.  Here’s how you can help them:

     First, keep your cat indoors, unless she is on a leash and harness and you are there to supervise.

     Put bells on your dog’s and cat’s collars so wild animals can hear them coming.

     Let part of your backyard grow wild with weeds and brush and tall grass.  Animals love to hide and build houses in wild brush and grass.

     Plant a tree in your backyard with your parents.  One tree can provide a home for lots of animals like birds, raccoons, squirrels and bats.

     Put some dead wood, like old tree stumps and branches in your yard.  More than 150 species of birds and other animals can live in dead trees and logs and feed off the insects there.

     Plant some raspberry, blueberry and blackberry patches for animals.

     Leave mole hills, ant hills and bee nests alone.  Never carelessly turn over logs or rocks.  There is a whole universe living there.

     Put out a bird feeder.  You can even make one using pine cones and peanut butter.   Spread peanut butter all over the pine cones, then dip the pine cones in birdseed and hang them on trees with some yarn.  Just remember that if you start feeding the birds they will begin to expect food.  If you forget to feed them during the winter they will get very hungry.  They need to eat a lot of food often in the cold weather, so keep the feeders full.

     You can also build a birdbath using a big rubber or plastic dish like the top of a plastic garbage can.  Place the rubber dish outside where you can see it and dig a small area in which the dish can sit securely.  The water shouldn’t be more than two inches deep because small animals can fall in and drown.   If dogs or cats are in the area, you’ll have to put the dish up high where the birds will be safe.  Fill the dish with clean water every day.  In the winter, use warm water so it won’t freeze as quickly.

     For free plans on building a bird house, write to The Kindness Club, 65 Brunswick Street, Frederickton, New Brunswick, E3B 1G5 Canada.

     If you have a swimming pool, drape a towel into the pool so that animals who accidentally fall in can climb out.  You can even order a Froglog from here to help frogs and other small animals who might fall in.

     Break ice on puddles in the winter so animals can get a drink.

     If you see a baby bird who has fallen out of his nest, get an adult to help you put him back right away.  If you can’t reach the nest, you can make a temporary one out of a shoebox lined with soft grass and wedged in the crook of a tree.  Look carefully at the bird though.  The young birds, called fledglings, are learning how to fly and they don’t belong in their nest anymore.  Their parents are close by watching them so they don’t need your help.  Fledglings have lots of feathers and are almost as big as their parents.

     Nest-building birds might like some of the soft hair that you get from combing your dog, so put it under the trees and give baby birds a soft mattress.

     If you have sliding glass doors on your house, stick cut-outs of big birds like owls, hawks and eagles on the glass.  The cutouts will warn other birds not to fly into the glass doors.

     Get a copy of Attracting Backyard Wildlife by Bill Merilees.  It has lots of tips and diagrams that help you give food, shelter and water to lots of birds, insects, small reptiles and mammals.



     Think of how you would feel if you were trying to eat, take a nap or sunbathe and someone much bigger than you ran after you just to see you run away.   You wouldn’t like it and they don’t like it either.  When you see little kids chasing or startling birds let them know it’s mean.  If they are too young to understand, ask their parents to please give the birds a break.

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