Oregon State University Extension Service


Wildlife Landscaping at Schools

Wildlife snag 4-H Wildlife Stewards School Seth Lewelling Elementary School

Tree swallows are tolerant of other birds nesting nearby and will often nest in loose colonies.

Western Bluebirds defend large areas for nesting. They like to be at least 300 yards from other cavity nesting birds.

Benefits of wildlife landscaping

Wildlife landscaping at schools:

  • Provides an outdoor learning laboratory
  • Fosters student participation in solving local environmental issues
  • Improves habitat for local wildlife
  • Increases diversity and pest control

First concept: The four basic needs of wildlife

  1. Food
    1. Plants provide natural food sources
    2. Native plants are recommended
    3. Provide sources of food year-round
    4. Supplement with bird feeders if desired
  2. Water
    1. Most important habitat feature
    2. Provide sources of water year-round
    3. Birdbaths, ponds, creeks, wetlands are good examples
  3. Cover is a habitat requirement that prevents waste of energy
  4. Space
    1. The home range is the area used by an animal for all its activities
    2. The territory is defined as all or part of a home range defended to exclude competitors

Second concept: Limiting factor

  • This is the habitat requirement that is in shortest supply
  • The limiting factor prevents the wildlife population from growing
  • Food, water and cover can usually be increased
  • Space usually cannot be increased

Third concept: Carrying capacity

  • This is the number of a given species that a habitat can sustain
  • Carrying capacity can be increased by managing for a limiting factor
  • Long-term improvements include planting natural sources of food and shelter

Fourth concept: Succession

  • Succession is the replacement of one biological community with another
  • Different species of wildlife occur at all stages of succession
  • You can increase wildlife diversity by providing multiple stages of succession

Fifth concept: Fragmented landscapes

  • Edges
    • Habitat edges or ecotones are the transition zones between two or more plant communities
    • Many species use edges
  • Corridors
    • Habitat connecting other isolated patches of habitat
    • Provides for movement of organisms
    • Larger corridors provide habitat for more species

Sixth concept: Habitat diversity

Diversity can be classified in two ways:

  • Species — different plant species and ages
  • Structural — vertical, horizontal and unique features

Increase structural diversity

  • Vertically — layering herbs, shrubs, trees
  • Horizontally — create a variety of habitat types using successional stages
  • Unique features — snags, logs, rock walls and brush piles

Seventh concept: Arrangement

  • Arrangement is providing food, cover and water in close proximity to one another
  • Go for the natural look — avoid planting in rows
  • Consider direction of prevailing winds

Key things to remember

  • Wildlife need food, water, cove, and space
  • Diversity creates habitat
  • Remove invasive species
  • Plant natives
  • Have fun
Previously titled
Principles of Wildlife Management

Source URL: https://extension.oregonstate.edu/outdoors-environments/wildlife/wildlife-landscaping-schools