From the Winter 2014 Conservationist for Kids
By Gina Jack
Plan a wildlife-friendly garden for your home or school during the colder months, and then plant it in the spring. Consider what kinds of wildlife you'd like to attract and what kinds you don't want. Consider how the garden will provide food, water, shelter and places for your wildlife of choice to hide. You can include houses for birds, bats and toads, puddles for butterflies and more. The National Wildlife Federation has guidelines on their Garden for Wildlife webpage to help design your garden.
Become a Wildlife Detective
Take a walk in your yard, neighborhood or a nearby park and look for signs that wildlife has been there. Animal tracks are a sure sign of activity. Watch for scat (poop), too. Can you find places where animals have been eating or taking shelter from the weather? Record your findings in a journal. Include written descriptions, drawings, and photos. Visit the "Become a Winter Wildlife Detective!" issue (PDF, 1.94 MB) of Conservationist for Kids for more outside ideas and a field guide to common animal tracks.
Create Wildlife Habitat
Children filling a bird feeder
Whether you live in the city or in the country, you can create habitat for wildlife. If you live in an apartment, use a window feeder to provide food for birds. If you have a yard, place a bird feeder away from the building but near enough to enjoy watching birds from indoors. Clean and disinfect bird feeders regularly to control mold and parasites, and so diseases aren't spread. Be sure to take your feeders down in March to avoid attracting bears.
Watchable Wildlife and Citizen Science
What is your favorite kind of wild animal found in New York State? Do you like birds best? Or do you like mammals, reptiles or amphibians? Maybe it's insects. Researchers observe wildlife to learn more about their needs and how to help them. You can help researchers by becoming a citizen scientist. You'll have fun, learn a lot along the way, and help your favorite creature. See "Discover Citizen Science" on DEC's website for a list of projects covering everything from birds to ladybugs.
Photo: David Cappaert, Michigan State