One or more wildlife houses


What is this?

A variety of wildlife houses can be placed on your property.  Nest boxes for songbirds, butterfly houses, inverted clay pots for toads, and brush piles all provide nesting opportunities for wildlife.

How do I do this?

On my own

  1. Whether you buy houses or build your own, first explore the resources below so you can select species your property can support  and so you understand the basics of house design, placement and maintenance for those species.
    • It’s essential to use a design that supports your desired species. Many ornamental bird houses on the market, for example, do not offer the correct hole diameter or other critical features. As a result, they support invasive house sparrows rather than desirable natives. Placement is also important, with some species nesting on the ground, others at eye level and others high in trees. Bat houses, for instance, are more successful when placed in the heat of the sun on the south side of a building. Depending on the species and time of year, maintenance might be critical. Bluebird houses, for instance, require spring and fall maintenance.
    • "Wood Projects for Illinois Wildlife, Homes and Feeders for Birds and Mammals”
    • National Wildlife Federation resources: Bird Houses, Toad Houses, Bat Houses, Bee Houses.
    • Shelves, Houses and Feeders for Birds and Mammals
  2. You can purchase wildlife houses from many nature specialty stores and nonprofit conservation organizations. One source for quality wildlife houses is Wild Birds Unlimited or visit Wild Birds Unlimited in Highland Park.
  3. Also take measures to keep predators such as certain snakes and mammals from gaining access to the box. Placing metal guards around wooden posts or poles usually deters most climbing predators. Installing sections of PVC pipe (five feet or longer) over steel posts and occasionally greasing the pipe will also discourage climbing predators such as raccoons.

Why is this important?

Inadvertent as it is, Lake County has changed dramatically for resident and migrating wildlife due to the conversion of woodlands, prairies, and wetlands to farms, homes and other developed areas.  Less than 20% of Lake County is protected as open space, leaving wildlife with fewer choices about where to build homes and raise young.

The best homes for wildlife – especially declining species such as warblers, thrushes and woodpeckers – are naturally found in leaf litter, shrubs and other low vegetation, living trees, fallen logs and dead standing trees. Ideally, your landscape will provide such sites for wildlife to raise young and find shelter from predators and inclement weather. However, if you are new to landscaping with native plants or are waiting for your landscape to mature, you may find that well-selected and well-placed wildlife houses will attract wildlife and provide much-needed shelter.

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