Brush and Leaf Shelter

Toads on Leaves: Dani Tinker

Placing a wildlife brush shelter on your property can add an interesting and important element to your backyard habitat, attracting a wide variety of wildlife that may have been missing. Providing dense, heavy and secure shelter close to the ground can attract many animals that may not feel comfortable in even the most colorful butterfly garden or thoroughly landscaped yard.

The variety of wildlife you may see using your brush shelter over the years is long and impressive:

  • Flycatchers and dragonflies perch on the tips of branches looking for flying insects.
  • Salamanders and shrews hide under logs at the base.
  • Lizards and butterflies sun themselves on the surface.
  • Rabbits, turtles, juncos and sparrows use the tangled branches for temporary shelter.
  • Toads, mice and ground-beetles will come and go as will the skunks, snakes and quail that feed on them.
  • Woodpeckers will pick insects out of the more decayed wood while foxes set up dens underneath.

Leave the Leaves

A leaf layer several inches deep is a natural thing in any area where trees naturally grow. Many wildlife species live in or rely on the leaf layer to find food and other habitat, including salamanders, chipmunks, box turtles, toads, shrews, earthworms, and many insects’ species.

Many butterfly and moth species overwinter as pupae in leaf litter. If you rake up and throw away all of your leaves each fall, you’ll be getting rid of these beneficial insects too. Remember, butterfly and moth caterpillars are a critically important food source for birds in the spring when they are feeding their babies. If you remove of all the pupae with your leaves in the fall, there will be fewer of these insects in and around your yard in in spring.

Where We Work

More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. The National Wildlife Federation is on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 53 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.

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