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Fallen Leaves and Wildlife.
November 04, 2019

How are you this week?

All is well here, even though the weather isn't cooperating.

Nasty, nasty weather for early November.

Well below normal temperatures, sleet, snow mixed with rain, more rain, followed by snow.

What few outdoor tasks I have left are in limbo right now.

Speaking of outdoor tasks, it is time to give your feeders and water sources a good cleaning if possible.

If a good cleaning isn't possible, spray feeders well with rubbing alcohol.

Alcohol sanitizes and evaporates quickly for a fast and safe sanitize.

The first of the month always works for me.

If your birdbath heaters aren't set up, you better do it while you can.

Pictured are some backyard guests this past week.

At the bottom is Sophie being Sophie and the girls taking a nap together.

Much of the day the pick on each other and squabble like enemies.

When all is said and done, they settle down together (best buds).

This week's letter is more of a continuation of last week.

More on fallen leaves and their value to your garden and nature.

Yes there will be some redundancy from last week, some things bare repeating.

Fallen Leaves and Wildlife.


The Maple tree across the street is slowly reaching peak color.

The orange seems muted due to the cloudy skies.

It is a pretty tree.

Last week I wrote on using your fallen leaves more the way 'Nature' had intended for them to be used.

I even made mention of their use in a wildlife habitat.

It is well documented on your fallen leaves as compost, mulch and even mowing them right back into the lawn area as a fertilizer.

I've even mentioned to you on how to use a nice bag of leaves as a thick layer of insulation by placing it on top of some tender perennials or on plants that you dare to push the zonal envelope with.

I've done this for years and have kept Zone 7 and some Z8 plants alive in my my Z5/6 gardens.

Bags of leaves can also be used to cover carrot beds or other root veggies from freezing off.

In the spring, remove the bag and distribute the leaves.

I digress.

This week's letter is on 'Fallen Leaves and Wildlife Habitats'.

The use of leaf litter to attract birds and other wildlife is an easy and environmentally friendly way to naturally recycle material and meet many of a bird's basic needs.

Yes, 'Creation' has it all figured out.

Leaf litter works as insulation, and sources of moisture.

A garden bed of leaf litter offers insects as food and feeds the microbes, that feed the soil at the same time.

Instead of throwing those leaves away, use it as a bounty for the birds.

Animals like rabbits and deer also use leaves in nature for protection and bedding.

What Is Leaf Litter:

Leaf litter is composed of several different materials, the most obvious of which is fallen, decaying leaves from deciduous trees.

Other organic material, such as small twigs, dead plant stems and fallen nuts, berries and fruits are also part of leaf litter.

In many communities, this material is collected and discarded every autumn to keep landscaping neat and clean,
but leaf litter is vital to birds habitat and needs.

Meeting Birds and Other Wildlife Needs With Leaf Litter:

Leaf litter is a simple act of 'God' and can easily meet most if not all of a bird's basic needs.

Food: Many insects, including flies and spiders, thrive on leaf litter, and insect-eating birds can feast on the bounty.

Other small creatures such as earthworms, salamanders and toads also enjoy leaf litter and can be food for birds, as can theberries, fruits and nuts that collect with the leaves.

Some birds, such as Jays, will also cache seeds and nuts in the leaf litter for later use.

Water: The moisture that collects in fallen leaves can be an important water source for ground-dwelling birds.

If enough water collects, the birds may drink from puddles in the leaves, and many birds will bathe in the dew that collects on leaf litter.

Shelter: Leaf litter provides important shelter and camouflage for ground birds while they are roosting or foraging.

This helps protect the birds from predators, and a layer of leaf litter can provide insulation against storms and temperature changes that can be fatal to exposed birds.

Nesting Sites:

For years I have mentioned this to you.

Ground nesting birds choose areas rich in leaf litter to raise their young because of the shelter and food available in the fallen leaves.

Many other bird species will pick through leaf litter for nesting materials such as twigs, leaf stems and mosses.

Free and easy to use, leaf litter can simply be collected from nearby trees or even scrounged from neighbors yards to add to your own landscaping and provide for all your backyard birds basic needs.

Birds That Feed in Leaf Litter:

Pay attention now.

In North America alone, more than 120 birds have been observed feeding in or otherwise making use of leaf litter.

Some of the most popular species that depend on fallen leaves for rich food sources include:

Common yellow-throats and
other ground warblers.

Dark-eyed juncos, white-crowned sparrows and otherground feeding sparrows.

Towhees, including the Spotted, Rufous-sided and Green-tailed species.

Northern mockingbirds forage just about any place they can find food.

Thrashers of all kinds, you can hear them thrashing through the fallen foliage.

Jays and other corvids (crow family), that eat insects and cache nuts.

Large thrushes such as the American robin, Hermit thrush and are always scratching around in search of food.

Game birds such as wild turkeys, quail and pheasants and woodcock seem to enjoy scratching more than eating.

A neat and clean bed offers nothing for wildlife, and slowly depletes your garden soil of nutrients.

More Leaf Litter Benefits:

In addition to being useful to birds, leaf litter also has other great benefits.

Insulation: Leaf litter will insulate and nourish the roots of plants and trees, keeping them healthier and stronger.

Cost: Instead of buying mulch and fertilizer, leaf litter can be used as free, natural soil supplements for gardens, flower beds and landscaping.

Environmentally Friendly: Thousands of tons of decaying leaves are added to landfills every year, but using leaf litter instead helps recycle material naturally. Some locations turn around and sell it back after your leaves have turned to compost.

Ease: Save hours of labor involved in raking and disposing of leaf litter by simply letting it decay naturally in your gardens and flower beds.

With benefits to birds, landscaping and the environment, leaf litter is a valuable material that will attract birds, meet their basic needs and encourage them to stay in bird-friendly landscaping.

Isn't that what we truly want, our own little wildlife habitat?

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

“Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. I am not, as will be seen, in any sense attacking logic: I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination.”

G.K. Chesterton

Both are used for good and evil.

I think the proper amount ofboth is required for a balanced life.

And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them."

Genesis 11:6

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb.

A Blessed week to you .

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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