A guide to establishing and
   certifying your habitat
            Florida Wildlife Federation
 Welcome to the World of Wildlife Habitats

The Florida Wildlife Federation, working with the National Wildlife Federation, offers this expanded
education and certification program to help you plan and certify your habitat. The goal is to promote
gardening in Florida that will help support native animals that are losing their living spaces to Florida’s
rapidly expanding development.
The program was launched in 1973, and has certified the habitats of more than 110,000 sites in the
U. S., which includes more than 3000 school sites. Florida has passed the 6000 certified habitat mark,
making our state first in the nation.
We have made this power point presentation to help you plan and plant your habitat. It will also appear
on our website, www.fwfonline.org. We have included materials that will be of interest to you as you
work at establishing your habitat using materials with a special Florida flavor. We have included
information about the certification application so you can familiarize yourself with what you will need to
do to achieve that goal. Florida Wildlife Federation does not perform the certification. Certification must
be done through National Wildlife Federation. A printed National Wildlife Federation certification
application is available at our Tallahassee offices. Simply call (850) 656-7113 or e-mail
patricia@fwfonline.org and request that we mail you an application. You can also be certified
electronically directly from National Wildlife Federation, using the link that you will find on the first page
of the habitat section on our website, and you can download an application to fill out by hand and mail in
from that site.
We wish you the best of luck and enjoyment with constructing your habitat. We are here at the above
telephone number and e-mail address to help you with advice or problems.

Happy Gardening!
 •   1. Grow plants that provide wildlife with a natural food source such as nuts, berries or nectar, or
     offer supplemental feeders.

 •   2. Provide water for wildlife with a birdbath, small pond, or shallow dish.

 •   3. Offer protective cover for wildlife by providing a ground cover, a hollow log or rock piles,
     dense shrubs or a roosting box.

 •   4. Provide places for wildlife to raise young such as a water garden, a pond or a nesting box.

 •   5. Practice sustainable gardening by mulching, composting or by reducing your lawn area.

                           Please watch what you plant in your garden.
Species not native to your region can become invasive and harmful to both people and wildlife.

                                                    This page adapted from a National Wildlife Federation publication.
The questions you will be asked on the National Wildlife Federation Wildlife Habitat Certification
       Application form have check-off spaces, and are generally as follows:

1.     Your name, e-mail address (if applicable) phone number, address and general description of
       the habitat property.
2.     Type of wildlife habitat supports (insect, bird, mammal, etc.)
3.     What kind of food you supply (seeds and berries, meadow grasses or leaves, and/or types of
       feeders, etc.) (3 are required)
4.     How do you supply water (birdbath, pond, stream, etc.) (2 are required)
5.     How do you supply places to raise young (trees, meadows, nesting boxes, etc.) (2 are
6.     A list of the kinds of plants you have (trees, vines, evergreens, meadow grasses, etc.)
7.     Sustainable gardening practices you maintain (reduction in lawn area and erosion, mulching,
       elimination of pesticide use, a rain garden, etc.) (2 are required)
                           WHY NATIVE PLANTS
                         WHY NOT EXOTIC PLANTS?
Native plants often have fewer pest and disease problems than lawns and exotic (non-native)
plants. Because natives are also adapted to local temperature and rainfall patterns, they require
less watering and fertilizing to maintain sound health. Native plants provide better nutritional
requirements for native animals, and are the basis for delicately balanced food webs.

Selecting native plants for landscaping is ecologically responsible. In Florida, about 900 exotic
plants have been added to the choices of plants used to beautify areas. Of these, about 400
plants have already invaded natural areas where they aggressively compete with Florida natives.

Several of the most aggressive plants have drastically changed the Florida landscape both
ecologically and visually.
In North Florida, the most aggressive non-native is the kudzu vine, Pueraria labata. Kudzu vine
can turn a small pine forest into a green nightmare in just a few years. There is nothing left there
for native wildlife. The vine has created a “desert” for them.
Melaleuca quinquenervia was purposely introduced into South Florida as a landscape tree early
in the 20th century to stop soil erosion. Unfortunately, it also destroys habitat and wildlife.

                                                  INVASIVE EXOTICS ARE
                                                  VISITORS THAT NEVER LEAVE!
1. Brazilian Pepper                       5. Cogon Grass                         8. Chinese Tallow
Once sold as a landscape                  Found in sandhills, flatwoods,         Sometimes called the popcorn
ornamental, it now infests more than      grasslands, swamps and river           tree, it first arrived in Florida in the
700,000 acres in central and south        margins throughout the state. Its      late 1700s. Ben Franklin was a
Florida.                                  rough edges will slice the skin.       fan. It thrives in undisturbed
                                          Cogon grass produces chemicals         areas such as canopy forests,
2. Australian Melaleuca Tree
                                          that inhibit growth of other plants.   bottomland hardwood forests, lake
Introduced to south Florida in 1906                                              shores and floating islands.
                                          6. Australian Pine
and planted as windbreaks, it has
                                                                                 9. Air Potato
invaded 1.5 million acres and is          Grows in pinelands, sandy shores
taking over an additional 50 acres        and dunes, where its dense shade       Climbs high into tree canopies and
every day, It produces little of use to   and chemicals from leaf litter         engulfs surrounding vegetation
wildlife.                                 displace native vegetation. Sea
                                                                                 10. Kudzu
                                          turtles become entangled and
3. Skunk Vine
                                          trapped in the trees’ exposed roots.   Introduced in Florida in the 1920s,
A pernicious, pesky, smelly plant                                                it infests 7 million acres
                                          7. Water Hyacinth and Hydrilla
now in 18 counties. It smothers                                                  throughout the southeastern
underbrush and strangles trees.           Hydrilla has invaded about 40          United States. Kudzu forms a
                                          percent of the state’s rivers and      dense thicket of little use to
4. Tropical Soda Apple
                                          lakes. Florida DEP estimates it will   wildlife and crowds out other
Covers 500,000 acres of Florida           spend $100 million in a decade to      plants, disrupting the ecosystem.
pastures, roadsides, ditch banks,         control hydrilla and water hyacinth.
cultivated and natural areas.
      Bird Feeding – Do and Don’t
•   Do keep your feeders clean, dump all old seed and hulls before refilling them. Disinfect with
•   ¼ cup of bleach to 2 gallons of warm water every few weeks. Rinse and allow to air dry
•   before refilling.

•   Do move your feeding station when the ground beneath it becomes covered with seed hulls
•   and droppings. Rake the old site to remove hulls and to give the grass a chance to recover.

•   Don’t use grease, oils or petroleum jelly, or similar substances to thwart ants, squirrels,
•   or other feeder-raiding creatures. If these substances come in contact with bird feathers
•   they are impossible for the bird to preen or wash out. Gooey feathers can become
•   useless for flight or insulation. Baffles and ant guards are available in many stores.

•   Don’t put out any more seed than can be eaten by nightfall. Don’t allow seed to become
•   and stay wet. In rainy weather, feed only from covered feeders that will keep seed dry,
•   or put out only a handful of seed at a time on platforms.

•   Do, if you see a sick or dead bird at your feeder, halt your feeding for a few weeks to allow
•   the healthy birds to disperse. This lessens the possibility of disease transmission.

•   Don’t provide suet in the summer. It can become rancid and unhealthy for birds and
•   cause the same problems for their feathers as grease, oils and petroleum jelly.
 Attracting Hummingbirds
Tiny, shiny hummingbirds can be a wonderful             •The Cuban bee hummingbird is the smallest bird
addition to your habitat.                               in the world, 2 ½ inches long, about the size of a
If hummingbirds live in your area, you can attract
them by planting red, tubular flowers, and there        •Hummingbirds can hover like a helicopter, or
are many flowers of that description to choose          move forward, sideways or backward.
from. Many North American plants are pollinated
                                                        •A ruby-throated hummingbird, weighing about
exclusively by hummingbirds. Check with your
                                                        1/10 of an ounce, can migrate 600 miles.
local nursery for the best native plants for
attracting hummingbirds in your area.                   •Hummingbirds not only sip nectar, but also eat
                                                        tiny insects and spiders, and may drink up to 8
Hummingbird feeders are an excellent way to
                                                        times their body weight in water every day.
supplement the birds diet when flowers aren’t
blooming, and to arrange to have them feeding in        •Hummingbirds’ body temperature is about 103
a spot easy for you to view them.                       degrees F in the daytime, it may drop to 70
                                                        degrees F at night. They can endure temporary
Fill feeders with a boiled solution of four parts of
                                                        cool weather or cool nights by becoming
water to one part of white, refined sugar or a
commercial “nectar” mix.
                                                        •The 340 species of hummingbirds are found
Do not use honey solutions in feeders, as this
                                                        only in the western hemisphere.
may produce a fungal disease fatal to the birds.
                                                        •Hummingbird wing beats have been measured
Feeders should be washed every 3 to 5 days
                                                        at 20 – 200 beats per second.
using a mild detergent solution and a brush,
rinsed well, and allowed to air dry before refilling.   •The ruby-throated hummingbird is our most
                                                        common “hummer.”
Attracting Butterflies
•     Resident butterfly populations in your yard require both larval and nectar (adult) foods.

•     Different kinds of butterflies require different plantings of shrubs on which to lay eggs, which will develop into
      caterpillars and feed on the leaves of their host shrub. Therefore, plant those shrubs in a less visible area, as the
      caterpillars will eat the leaves and cause the shrubs to look less attractive. Nectar flowers for adult food can be
      placed where they can be easily seen and enjoyed.

•     Do not use pesticides or herbicides in or near the butterfly garden.

•     Flower colors that attract butterflies include orange, yellow, pink, purple and red. Deep-throated, drooping, or
      enclosed flowers are unsuitable for nectar-gathering. Wildflowers are great for attracting butterflies, though many
      hybridized flowers fail to attract. White flowers, and those emitting their fragrances at night, usually attract moths.
    Nectar Plants for Butterflies

    Trees                                V
                                     Vines, ground covers, and herbs                     Bedding Plants
                                     Asters                  Thistle
    Bottlebrush                                                                          Calendula
                                     Clover                  Spanish Needle
    Citrus                               e
                                     Coreopsis               Yarrow                      Impatiens
    Wild Lime                                                                            Marigold (single)
    Buckeye                          Grasses                                             Petunia
    Shrubs                                                                               Sunflower
    Azalea                           Sedums                                              Verbena
    Butterfly Bush                                                                       Zinnia (single)
    Fetterbush                       Phlox                                               Penta
                                     Queen Anne’s Lace
    New Jersey Tea                                                                       Scabiosa
                                     Red Root
               Butterfly larval food plants
Butterfly                Plant needed for larvae and caterpillar
Atala…                  coontie (Zamia floridana)
Buckeye                 plantain (plantago spp.), snapdragon (Antirrhinum spp), Ludwigia spp, sedums
Pearly Crescent         asters (esp. native spp.), crownbeard (Verbesina occidentalis)
Dogface                 clover (Trifolium spp.), leadplant (Amorta fruticosa)
Gulf Frittilary         passion vine (Passiflora incarnata)
Florida leafwing        croton (Croton llinearus)
Goatweed butterfly      croton (C. capitatum and C. monanthogynus))
Julia                   passion vines (Passiflora spp.)
Monarch                 milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) Note: check with your county Extension Office for species
Mourning Cloak          elms (Ulmus spp.), willow (Salix spp.), hackberry (Celtis spp.)
Painted Lady            thistles (Circium spp.), many composits (Asteracea), mallows (Malvaciae)
Queen                   milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) Note: check with your county Extension Office for species
Red Admiral             nettles (Urtica spp.), false nettle (Boehmaria cylindrica)
Red-spotted Purple      willows (Salix spp.), scrub oaks (Quercus spp.)
Long-tailed skipper     legumes (Fabaceae), crucifers (Brassicaceae)
Orange-barred sulphur   cassias (Cassia spp.)
Common sulphur          legumes (Fabaceae)
Black swallowtail       carrots, parsley, dill, Queen Anne’s Lace (Umbelliferae)
Pipevine swallowtail    pipevines Aristolochia spp.), knotweeds (Polyganum spp.)
Palamedes swallowtail   red bay (Persea borbonia), sweet bay (Magnolia virginiana), sassafras (Sassafras albidum)
Schaus’ swallowtail     torchwood (Amyris elimfera)), wild lime (Zanthoxylum fagara)
Spicebush swallowtail   spicebush (Lindera benzoin), red bay (Persea borbonia), sweet bay (Magnolia virginiana)
Tiger swallowtail       many broadleaf trees and shrubs, .willows (Salix spp.), tulip poplars (Liriodendrun tulipifera
Zebra swallowtail       pawpaws (Asimina spp.)
Zebra Longwing          passionvine (Passiflora spp.)

                                        ( Information adapted from Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission publication)
Reduce your lawn
A gas mower pollutes as much in an hour as a car       FIVE GOOD REASONS TO REDUCE YOUR
does driving for 350 miles.                                LAWN
30 to 60% of the potable water supply in the U.S. is   1.   Save time and money that you would normally
used for maintaining lawns.                                 spend on mowing and fertilizing.
67 million pounds of synthetic pesticides are used     2.   Increase your home’s energy efficiency.
on U.S. lawns annually.
                                                       3.   Attract and provide for wildlife visitors.
Lawn monocultures offer little habitat value for
                                                       4.   Conserve water
                                                       5.   Reduce mower pollution and decrease run-off
                                                            from fertilizers and pesticides.
                                                            Adapted from a National Wildlife Federation publication.

  The commercial trade in cypress mulch is depleting and endangering Florida’s
  beautiful and unique Cypress Trees. These trees are not being grown and
  harvested in a sustainable manner.
  If you prefer a wood-chip mulch, look for Melaleuca mulch, which is made
  from one of the most invasive trees in Florida.
                       PowerPoint Presentation created by
                               Patricia L. Pearson
                          Florida Wildlife Federation
                                  PO Box 6870
                          Tallahassee, FL 32314-6870

•   All photos in this presentation are from NWF certified habitats in Florida
•   All line drawings in this presentation are used with permission, or are in the public
•   Any pages or information from this presentation may be shown or copied, as long as
    Florida Wildlife Federation is credited.

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