As we celebrate the fall and winter holidays,  you may spend more time at home wandering around your yard. Notice any new sounds? Or flicks of color fly by? Florida is home to over 500 species of birds (credit: Florida Ornithological Society), and this time of year can be particularly exciting for birders. As birds migrate from all over the world to find refuge in our temperate climate, you may see and hear new birds and birdsong in your own backyard. To learn more about our feathered visitors, you can visit the Audubon Society’s new Bird Migration Explorer tool. As I was playing with it, I learned that 100 bird species come and go from Ocala, FL to other parts of the U.S., 54 species from Canada, and 28 species from Cuba and the Bahamas.  If you can’t see the bird but hear it, there is also a great app from the Cornell Lab called Merlin that can identify the bird for you just by its song. I’ve used this on many occasions listening to birds sing in our woods wondering who I was eavesdropping on. Check it out!



Florida-Friendly Landscaping Principle #5 Attracting Wildlife. A. Marek, UF/IFAS
Florida-Friendly Landscaping (FFL) is a statewide educational program to promote sustainable, low-maintenance landscapes that conserve water, protect water quality, and provide habitat for wildlife. Attracting wildlife is actually the 5th principle of FFL and is one of my favorites. You can have so much fun attracting birds and other wildlife to your yard by doing simple things such as: Providing water – bird baths or fountain features provide water,  and the sound of running water is attractive to wildlife and soothing to human ears Provide shelter – such as bird and bat houses, or better yet, leave snags (dead trees) that are in safe locations or brush piles for wildlife to find refuge. Cornell’s NestWatch is an excellent website where you can learn how to build or buy the right house for the right birds in your area. It will even tell you where to place the house. Plant native – non-native plants can provide nourishment for wildlife too, but native plants that have evolved with our native pollinators and other wildlife support greater biodiversity in the landscape (see Hostetler and Main, 2019). Regardless, selecting Florida-friendly plants that are not invasive is crucial to providing the best habitat for birds and other wildlife in your yard year-round. For more questions on attracting wildlife in your yard, or Florida-Friendly Landscaping, contact your local UF/IFAS Marion County Extension FFL Agent at or call 352-671-8400. Live outside of Marion County? Find your local office here.
by Amanda Marek
Source: UF/IFAS Pest Alert Note: All images and contents are the property of UF/IFAS.
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