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How to make your backyard an oasis for wildlife (without attracting coyotes)

The local trails are open, but you can enjoy the wildlife from home, too.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Many local parks and trails recently announced that they are now open after stay-at-home orders forced closures amid the coronavirus.

However, Sacramento is home to a large variety of birds, small mammals, and other amazing animals that you can enjoy from your own backyard. 

Squirrels, rabbits, and hummingbirds are examples of small, native animals that can find sanctuary in your yard with just a few simple tips and tricks.

At the same time, you may not be too keen on setting up that bird bath once you realize that this could attract attention from unwelcome animals — coyotes, rats, skunks, etc. 

It's important to be alert to predators and pests that may come to your home.

Here are some tips to make your backyard wildlife friendly, while staying mindful of unwanted animals:

  • Plant some California-native shrubs and bushes around your yard. Animals like rabbits may use these plants for shelter and hiding spots. Bird like to use these places to build nests.
  • Buy more nectar plants. Butterflies loves these and if you plant in large quantities, the large swaths of color will be easier for a butterfly to see.
  • On the topic of butterflies, you can provide host plants for caterpillars as well. Some butterflies are picky about where they lay their eggs, so consult this list of good caterpillar hosts.
  • Don't use pesticides or other chemicals in your garden! All of your hard work will be for nothing, as the chemicals in pesticides can hurt, injure, or deter animals.
  • Set up a homemade bird feeder. Good DIY bird feeders can include peanut butter or sunflower oil, rolled oats, sunflower seeds and other bird seeds.
  • Plant some native fruits and nuts, but pick fruit when it ripens. Don't leave rotting fruit and nuts on the ground.
  • Attract hummingbirds with sugar water. Another DIY opportunity for you: make a solution using 1 part sugar and 4 parts water and fill a hummingbird feeder to attract these buzzy songsters.
  • Build brush piles. This may bring rabbits, chipmunks, and certain kind of birds to your yard.
  • Try a hanging bird bath. Not only will coyotes be unable to reach it, but it allows birds to easily swoop down and perch. Just be sure that your hanging bird bath is in a place with minimal wind.
  • If interested in setting up a grounded bird bath—it's best to drain the bath at night and rinse/clean the basin (this is for the safety of the birds as well!)
  • Have secure yard fencing to keep out predators. Fencing should stand at least 5- to 5-1/2 feet high, angled outward, and with the bottom of the fencing buried underground.
  • Keep all outdoor trashcan lids securely fastened.
  • Eliminate ivy and other thick ground covers, which may attract rats, which can attract coyotes.



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