Turn Your Backyard Into a Wildlife Refuge for Under $40

One of my favorite things about where I live is that there is all kinds of wildlife I can see right outside my window. I don’t need to go anywhere to experience nature. If you want to boost the wildlife population in your yard, here are some inexpensive ideas that provide a safe habitat for local creatures.

Bee house

Build a mason bee house to attract these pollinating bees to live and work in your yard. You can also buy a stylish pre-made mason bee house for about $20.

Bird house

Install a birdhouse to give birds a place to live in your yard even if you don’t have a lot of natural nesting sites. You can design and build your own birdhouse from a variety of scavenged materials including coffee cans and cowboy boots or order a wooden birdhouse kit for around $12.

Bird feeder

Birds will come from all around if you put out a bird feeder and keep it stocked with fresh birdseed. You can choose a simple tube-style feeder for as cheap as $5–$10, or get a rectangular feeder for a few dollars more. Sprinkle a bit of feed on the ground to help birds find it.

Hummingbird feeder

You can attract hummingbirds to your yard by putting out a nectar feeder, which will cost around $10. Hummingbirds are attracted to red, so choose a feeder that is red or one that has a clear glass that can be filled with red nectar. Change the nectar every few days to keep it fresh. You can buy this nectar in bulk (about 64 oz) for about $10. I mix my own nectar in small batches using a powdered formula. You can also keep unused portions of nectar fresh in your refrigerator until you need…

Pennsylvania Wildlife Center Gives Orphaned Animals a New Lease on Life

Chalfont, Pennsylvania, an hour outside of Philadelphia, is a lucky place to be a baby squirrel in need. It’s home to one of the oldest wildlife rescues in the U.S., the Aark Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center.

Over the course of the year, Aark takes in more than 5200 animals, focusing its efforts on anything wild, native, and in need. That means everything from sick hawks to injured raccoons to orphaned squirrels, rabbits, and fawns.

Aark doesn’t see its mission as saving the environment as much as helping both four-legged and two-legged creatures deal with how human activity affects animal habitats. “As human beings encroach more and more on their habitats, they get involved with us in often not-good ways,” as Aark’s executive director, Leah Stallings, told mental_floss. “So instead of the squirrel building the nest in the tree, they build it in the house—because the house is where the tree used to be. And then people have squirrels living in their ceiling.”

Neither the people nor the squirrels win in that kind of situation. “It’s not really the people’s fault, but it isn’t really the animal’s, either,” she explained. Aark can help alleviate the problem for both. “There’s no government place where you can take something like that—that’s where we come in.”

Image Credit: Sara Kushner, courtesy Aark Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center via Facebook

Having critical care centers for wildlife that has been affected by human activity—whether it’s a songbird with a broken wing or a raccoon that’s been orphaned…