As the holiday season begins, many of us enjoy transforming our yards into magical landscapes. As always, it’s important to remember that when we step out of our houses, we step into the homes of wildlife. As respectful neighbors, we can consider their perspective when choosing and placing outdoor decorations.

Imagine living in your yard. Where do you find food and water? Where do you hide from danger? Bushes and trees are essential protection and shelter to many animals. Covering bushes, for example, with giant fabric webs, can prove as deadly as the huge spiders we pretend spun them. As with bird netting, avians, snakes, and other small creatures can become tangled and die from exposure and stress. Be sure not to spray or paint pumpkins with anything toxic, especially if you plan to leave them outside. Animals such as squirrels and even moose will view them as a tasty and nutritional treat! Instead of decorating outdoor trees with large, shiny ornaments, which can deter birds, create wildlife friendly, edible stars, bells, and other fun shapes and enjoy nature’s colors and carols! Twinkling lights and bright wreaths are lovely, but don’t forget to take them down before the warmer months, or you may have finches or even hummingbirds using the tiny “branches” as an anchor for nests. Many kids love to leave food for Santa’s reindeer, just chose a wildlife friendly recipe, and avoid potentially harmful ingredients like glitter.

As you gather with loved ones around the fire and enjoy your favorite holiday meals, remember that our wild friends are working hard to survive the cold and barren winter season, so let’s do our best to help and not hinder them. May your holiday season be full of wonder and delight!

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