HOW TO REWILD YOUR YARD FOR BUNNIES & WILDLIFE IN THE SPRING!
Spring is a wonderful time to observe wildlife. Baby birds, rabbits, hares, skunks, racoons! Animals have started collecting food in abundance and making nests for babies. April to July are the months most common for these backyard creatures to raise their young.
Depending on the species, rabbits have up to 12 babies at a time, called kittens. Where hares have only 4 to 5. When born, baby hares already have hair, eyesight, and are ready to bounce. Rabbits are born very helpless and it takes them about 12 days to have a thick coat of fur. After about 3 to 4 weeks babies start to venture out of the nest and explore to eat grasses and greens themselves. They go back to the nest at dusk for a safe space to rest.
Often seeing young rabbits and other animals like fledgling birds hopping around makes us feel as though we need to help them. But the best thing to do is let the mother care for them, keep a safe distance, and create a safe space in your backyard for them instead.
There are many ways to create a safe and healthy place in your backyard for wildlife, especially in the springtime. Here are some ways you can keep your yard safe for bunnies, hares, birds, and all other critters you might see!
Leave a Section ‘Wild’
We always seem to have the urge to ‘clean up’ our backyards in the spring, which takes away important habitat space for spring animals. This year, I urge you to keep part of your yard wild, in an attempt to rewild your space and provide a helpful space for all kinds of critters. Lots of animals use leaves and grasses as nesting material. Leave a pile of leaves, dirt, and branches in a corner of your yard to provide nesting material and shelter.
No Mow May!
Participate in No Mow May by letting your grass grow for the month of May and leave the grass mowing for June. Growing grass provides vegetation for all kinds of animals, including pollinators too! Let the dandelions grow for the early bees, bunnies, hares and squirrels!
Spotting Rabbit Nests
Rabbits typically make their nests in the open grass. They dig a small hole and gather leaves for protection. Often rabbit nests will be difficult to spot in a yard, hidden in the grass. One of the signs of a nest is clumped fur on the top and out of place grass. Remember, their nest is meant to blend in for protection! Before mowing your yard or letting pets roam, scope your yard for rabbit nests on the ground. If you spot one, you can protect it from pets by placing a laundry basket over the nest area, then placing a semi-heavy object on top of the basket so it doesn’t blow away or get knocked over by pets. This must be removed before dusk when the mother animal usually returns to the nest.
Having a water source in your yard will be an attraction for wildlife. Large and shallow plate like forms work best. For pollinators, use a shallow plate with rocks inside to provide safe landing spaces. For birds, a large shallow dish on the ground works great for fledgling birds who can’t fly to a taller bird bath yet.
Avoid Synthetic Fertilizers & Pesticides
Ever been bothered by “weeds”? Lots of the plants we think about as weeds are sources of food for wildlife. Spraying your yard or gardens with fertilizers can be incredibly dangerous and sometimes lethal to wildlife. When I think about putting a substance on my garden I always ask myself “would I eat this”. If the answer is no, it doesn’t belong in your yard! The best way to get rid of weeds… leave them be and wildlife will eat them for you. Also remember that the lifecycle of certain weeds is short, so having them in your yard is temporary.
Plants and Gardens
In your backyard you can grow all kinds of plants that are helpful to wildlife! Have a part of your yard where you grow plants native to the area you live. The great thing about native plants is that they are self-sufficient growers in the ground soil and can survive in the climate you live in. Each area is different so make sure you research native plants for where you live first! Planting these will bring bees, butterflies, and birds into your garden too!
Spring is such a wonderful time to rewild your space and watch for wildlife! Share with me your rewilding and how you create a healthy space in your backyard for wildlife on Instagram at @apintsizedimpact