Wild Birds Unlimited Barrie and Wild Birds Unlimited Newmarket are excited to be planning a one-of-a-kind Wildlife Habitat Garden Tour. Our goal is to inspire people with yards of all shapes, sizes and styles of gardens to create bird and wildlife sanctuary’s in their yards by creating habitat. We are looking for people with yards and gardens (which meet certain criteria- see below) to welcome garden tour visitors to their yard to tour and answer questions about their wildlife habitat.
We hope to feature a variety of styles of gardens in different phases. Mature wildlife gardens are certainly something we want to showcase; however many people do not know where to begin and observing gardens in different stages in the process (invasive species management, site preparation, new beds, 1-2 years old) is a fantastic learning opportunity. We hope to also include at least one "out of the box" stop on the tour this could include for example a community wildlife garden, small space garden, or school garden.
Wildlife Habitat Garden Criteria
Our goal is to show case wildlife habitat gardens that meet the following criteria:
- Majority of garden plantings must be native plants (ideally wild type non-cultivar natives). Our goal is to feature gardens with 70% or more native plantings. Why at least 70%? This is what Dr. Doug Tallamy and his team have determined is the required amount of native plants in a garden habitat to support nesting birds. Also important to note the garden should be maintained without the use of chemicals (weed killers, pest control etc.).
- The garden must feature supplemental food, water and nesting areas for wildlife. We believe that offering supplemental food, water and nesting areas in addition to offering habitat is a winning combination for wildlife. Supplemental offerings may include: bird feeders and foods (even better if they are from WBU), birdbaths, puddlers, bird friendly water features, bird houses, bee houses, bat houses etc.
- Wildlife friendly gardening practices. This will vary from one yard to another; but what else do you do in your yard to be wildlife friendly. Some examples may include: making windows bird friendly, turning off lights in the evenings, keeping cats indoors, maintaining areas for caterpillars to pupae under trees, using key stone species, maintaining areas for ground nesting solitary bees, leaving the leaves in the beds, use of logs for habitat, invasive species management , offering shelter for wildlife using brush piles etc.
Bonus: We would love to feature yards that have been certified by an organization as wildlife friendly.
About the Tour
We still have many details to work out, however here are some of the planning thus far. We hope to feature 4-6 gardens on a one day tour in June- date TBD. The tour will run rain or shine. In the event of extreme weather we may have to cancel and would hope to re-schedule the event. We would try and structure the tour so that the group moves together and meets at the gardens at a specific time (rather than drop in style) to better accommodate the time of the garden hosts. Logistics with respect to driving distances and parking can pose a challenge. Gardens have to be reasonably close enough to each other that driving doesn't take up too much time throughout the tour. WBU store owner (and wildlife gardening nerd) Kristen will be facilitating and leading on the day of the tour. She will also complete site visit(s) prior to the tour. Garden tour hosts may be required to sign a waiver form and are responsible for the safety of the visitors while in their garden. This means hosts must be diligent in removing any potential hazards from the site, for example cleaning up gardening tools, ensuring any walkways are clear of debris, and ensuring there are no large dangling branches in trees. Hosts would participate as volunteers and would not be compensated for welcoming and interacting with tour participants or providing garden tours. We will ask participates to "donate what they can" to join the tour and proceeds will be donated to a charity determined by WBU. We will have a limit on participant numbers but are not sure what that will be at this time. Any other questions please let us know!