Certified Wildlife Habitat

Our office is located at a certified wildlife habitat.

This quote brings to you the essence of what Dr. Bonine has set out to accomplish on this land. His philosophy is that business can contribute to the preservation and enhancement of natural areas, as well as provide a relaxing and peaceful place for all. He has bypassed the "perfect lawn" for a more natural look, thereby preserving space for wildlife and providing for their needs. His "rustic enhancement" concept brings habitat enhancement together with typical landscaping practices. With less and less open space available, as our urban environments gulp up these areas, here is a model for many others to follow—whether at home or at a place of work. This property exhibits the key components for sound backyard habitat improvements. They include:

  • Providing a diversity of plants
  • Providing the basic needs for wildlife : food, water, shelter & space
  • Use of energy conservation practices
  • Use of soil conservation practices
  • Providing function; i.e., trees with berries for wildlife
  • Providing arrangement
  • Providing natural beauty

Let's explore and see some of the unique qualities that this "enhanced" property, which once was a dairy farm, has to offer as a model. Today, it is in the process of reclaiming itself with the help of plantings that will benefit a wide variety of wildlife. Take a few moments to relax, enjoy the tranquil setting, and observe the natural wonders found here.

The wildflower plantings along the driveway have taken the place of mowing. This reduces the amount of resources needed to maintain the area. With a lawn, people have the tendency to want it to look it's best, so they use lots of water, as well as pesticides and herbicides to make it "perfect". These additions destroy the plants and animals, which naturally exist and interrupt the natural cycle. The roadside wildflowers provide homes and food for many insects, mammals and birds.

Some of the elements that provide for wildlife are:

  • Goldenrod

    Sparrows and dark-eyed juncos feed on their seeds.

  • Black-eye Susan

    Provide high nectar content and landing platform for butterflies. Many birds eat the seeds.

  • Queen Ann's Lace

    The black swallowtail butterfly lays eggs on this plant and it provides the larva or caterpillar with a food source.

  • Canada Thistle

    The down of the seeds are used as a liner in goldfinch nests and the seeds provide a food source for many birds.

  • Smooth Sumac

    The berries are eaten by grouse, pheasants, quail, bluebirds, cardinals, catbirds, flickers, and woodpeckers, to name a few. Rabbits eat the Sumac's bark and fruit. Chipmunks eat the berries. Deer will browse twigs and foliage.

  • Grasses

    The grasses provide forage for plant eating animals like whitetail deer, cottontail rabbits, woodchuck, and voles. These grasses also provide nesting cover for grassland birds, like the meadowlark. Red fox, red-tailed hawks, coyotes and skunk utilize these areas for hunting sites.

  • Evergreens

    Around the perimeter of the property you will notice that evergreens have been planted. The arrangement of plants is an important element in natural landscape design. The evergreens planted on the north and west side will protect the building from winter winds, and they also provide shelter in the winter and nesting areas in the summer for birds. Their sap, needles, and twigs are eaten by wildlife. Eastern White Pines are used by 48 species of birds. The yellow-bellied sapsucker eats the sap and the insects attracted to the sap pits.

  • Junipers

    The junipers you may have noticed in the parking lot provide nesting areas and berries for many birds, and deer will browse on their needles. Junipers, with their pointed needles, provide valuable protection for birds.

  • The Building

    The building is located so as to best take advantage of the shade from the mature oak and hickory trees. Deciduous trees provide an excellent way to cool down the building in the summer and to facilitate sunlight in the winter to the same area. This is a good example of energy conservation.

  • The Oak-Hickory Forest

    The oak-hickory forest is a community that provides for many of wildlife's needs: Food, shelter, and space. Oaks provide significant food for many animals. Nuts and acorns, collectively called "masts," are the main fall and winter food for white-tail deer, fox and red squirrel, ruffed grouse, mallard ducks, wood ducks, raccoons and blue jays. The understory of shrubs and vines provides food and nesting cover from June through August. The berries from the understory attract birds such as the brown thrasher, blue jay, gray catbird, American robin, eastern bluebird, cedar waxwing, northern cardinal, indigo bunting, and many more. Many butterflies are attracted to the flowers of these trees and shrubs for nectar.

  • Oaks

    Oaks retain their dead brown leaves throughout much of the winter making them useful for wildlife cover. Many birds use their twigs and leaves as nesting material.

  • Shagbark Hickory

    Shagbark hickory nuts provide food for fox, gray and red squirrels, as well as chipmunks. The hickory tree can live to be 250 years old, making them, like the oaks, a great long-term wildlife investment. Both of these trees provide cavities for nesting, which are used by 96 species of wildlife.

  • Brush Piles

    Brush piles of branches and twigs from various plants have been developed on the property to provide shelter from weather, predators, nesting sites, in addition to den sites, for woodchuck, cotton tail rabbits, garter snakes, red fox and many other species. Piles placed in the water can provide roosting spots for birds and some amphibians as well as provide shelter for frogs and turtles.

  • The Wetlands

    The wetlands on the property are some of the richest habitats found on earth. They provide for a wide variety of animals, from birds, to small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects. A wide diversity of plant life lives in all levels of the pond. Wetlands capture eroding soil from surrounding areas as run-off. They can cleanse run-off water of any fertilizers or pesticides that may enter the wetland.

  • The Ponds

    The ponds on the property provide for water, something many people forget to provide in their backyards for birds in the winter. An aeration system has been installed in the ponds to provide open water year-round and also to maintain appropriate oxygen levels for fish, frogs and other organisms. Providing this water on your property can be as simple as a dripping source for birdbaths or puddles for butterflies.

  • Wetland Plants

    Plants found in or on the wetland edge provide food and shelter for a wide variety of creatures. Animals like snakes and frogs use water lilies as shelter. Muskrats will eat various parts of water lilies. Cattails provide food for over 17 species of animals; Canada geese eat roots and seed, and ducks will use the cattails as cover. Pickerelweed, with its purple flowers, has seeds that are eaten by wood ducks and muskrats.

Some of the animals you will find near these ponds that depend on this habitat are:

  • Painted Turtle

    Food: insects, clams and snails, and crayfish

    Shelter: Duckweed and algae

    Look for them on rocks or branches basking in the sun, collecting solar heat!

  • Muskrat

    Food: Cattail roots and seeds

    Shelter: Cattail leaves piled in a mound or digging into the banks.

    Look for their homes made of cattails or watch for them as they swim on top of the water!

  • Tree Swallow

    Food: Insects that live over the pond—flies, bees, dragonflies, mosquitoes.

    Shelter: Cavities found in trees near the water or nesting boxes.

    Watch for them as they skim the water surface and collect insects!

  • Spring Peepers

    Food: Small aquatic insects.

    Shelter: In or on banks of water uses aquatic plants as shelter, lays eggs in jelly mass in water.

    Listen for their spring call of constant---peep, peep, peep!

  • Green Frog

    Food: Aquatic insects and insects which fly near water surface.

    Shelter: In or on banks of water uses aquatic plants as shelter, lays eggs in jelly mass in water.

    Listen for their call, which sounds like banjo strings or look for them on the surface camouflaged in duckweed or algae!

  • Red-winged Blackbird

    Food: Some snails, crustaceans, worms, and beetles.

    Shelter: Makes nests of and among cattail plants.

    Watch for the male as he roosts on top of the cattails and listen for his distinct call..........ookayeee, ookayee!

  • Dragonfly

    Food: As aquatic nymph, eats insects even small fish and tadpoles; as adult, eats insects on or near the water surface.

    Shelter: Aquatic plants.

    Look for them skimming the waters' surface or among the cattails in pursuit of other flying insects!

The courtyard is designed to meet the needs of wildlife.

Can you find any plants that would provide for butterflies, birds or small mammals? The design of this area gives one a good idea of the important elements needed for wildlife habitat improvement.

  • Evergreen Trees and Shrubs

    Evergreen trees and shrubs provide wind protection for butterflies which visit the flowers, protection for birds who come to feed, and also buffer the sights and sounds from the nearby roads. Seeds or berries provide food for mice and birds. Twigs and buds may be eaten by deer in the winter.

  • Nectar Flowers

    Nectar flowers such as columbine, yellow lilies, and clematis vine provide nectar for a wide variety of butterfly species.

  • Rocks

    Rocks provide landing pads and sun-basking areas for butterflies. The rocks give escape areas for small mammals and insects.

  • Grasses

    Grasses provide a source of seeds for many birds, mice and voles. Many butterfly caterpillars depend on grasses for their main food.

  • Hummingbird Feeders

    Hummingbird feeders attract hummingbirds to the area for viewing. These feeders assist hummingbirds in the spring in gaining energy for their long flight north, and in the fall for their flight south.

  • Bird Feeders

    Bird feeders attract seed-eating birds to areas where you can view their courtship and feeding behaviors. In severe weather, such as an ice storm, feeders help birds to obtain food. Only approximately 30% of a bird's food would come from a feeder. The natural plants of grasses and seed bearing plants give them their main food source.

Take a few moments to view the area and relax.

Take in the sights and sounds. This could be your backyard or business. Think of all you could provide for wildlife, with less time and energy wasted on the pursuits of a "perfect lawn."

If one were to imagine what this property once looked like as a dairy farm, it is hard to believe that today one would find such a wide variety of plants and animals living here. Through careful planning and enhancement of the natural landscape, this property has become more diverse and exhibits sound wildlife habitat improvement and protection.

"People need a model. If they can see a place become beautiful, they're inspired to act." -Marion Stoddart

Resources for Wildlife Habitat Improvement

Kalamazoo Nature Center, Community Wildlife Program
P.O. Box 127 Kalamazoo, MI 49004 (616) 381-1574

National Wildlife Federation: Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program
Regional Office, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Michigan State University Cooperative Extension Service, Master Gardener Program
Look in your local phonebook under your county government listings


Landscaping for Wildlife
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
500 Lafayette Rd, Box 7
St. Paul, MN 55155 (800) 657-3757

Birdscaping Your Garden: A Practical Guide to Backyard Birds and Plants That Attract Them, George Adams, Rodale Press, Inc.

– This text was prepared by the Kalamazoo Nature Center.