Published since 1946
Make a Home for Wildlife by Charles Fergus
You probably recognize Charles Fergus’ name; he has been working with the Wildlife Management Institute for a number of years supporting Young Forest restoration work in the Northeast. He provides updates here in the Outdoor News Bulletin on projects he and WMI are engaged in including New England cottontail restoration and more. You may have also noted how well written his stories are. That is because Charles is also a prolific and accomplished author of both fiction and non-fiction books. His latest book Make a Home for Wildlife should be a valued resource for landowners in the eastern United States who are looking to create habitat on their property.
Make a Home for Wildlife, published by Stackpole Books, provides detailed information for landowners of small backyard lots up to hundreds of acres about improving habitat quality. Fergus opens with the inspiration that all land owners can make a difference by describing his own journey to improve habitat on his farm in northern Vermont. He notes that more than half of the forestland in the U.S. is privately owned and that many of these properties are small acreages of 10-20 acres or less. In addition to forestlands, these small acreages also provide grasslands, shrublands and wetlands that can provide important food and cover for wildlife. But many landowners do not fully realize that “just leaving it alone” may not be the best way to manage for diverse wildlife.
“Whether you live on a lot in town, own an acre or two in the suburbs, spend your weekends at a 10-acre woodland retreat, manage a working forest or farm, or belong to a hunting club with hundreds or even thousands of acres – you can make changes to the land that will transform your property into a better home for wildlife…
This book explains different approaches that can be used to make, refresh, and maintain a variety of habitats for wildlife. It is less about prescribing specific habitat management techniques than about giving landowners the tools – in the form of knowledge about wildlife, plants, and habitats, along with knowing how to find resources and obtain professional guidance – that will let them set realistic goals for creating and improving habitat and then following through on projects.”
Chapters within the book provide an overview of what the main requirements for wildlife habitat are as well as different types of habitat. It explains ecological concepts – including biological and cultural carrying capacity, habitat disturbances and plant succession, edge habitats and corridors – and how to evaluate existing habitats on your property and surrounding property in order to provide diverse habitat for native wildlife. In addition, the book outlines how local, state and federal agencies can help develop land management plans or provide resources to help improve your land. He then digs more deeply into various habitat types, specific plant species that are beneficial to wildlife in different regions, how to handle invasive plant species, and techniques to benefit different guilds of wildlife.
Fergus is an accomplished naturalist with extensive experience on wildlife and habitat conservation, but he’s also a storyteller who can equally explain the mechanics of habitat improvement with more existential descriptions of why we should be habitat stewards. Interspersed within the chapters are wildlife sketches and landowner stories that personalize experiences in making homes for wildlife. Perhaps most importantly, he concludes with ensuring that landowners enjoy the fruits of their work through watching the wildlife that are attracted to the property, and allowing school groups or others to see and experience the changes that have occurred as a way to spread interest in becoming habitat stewards.
As WMI President Steve Williams noted in a review featured on the back cover of the book: “Make a Home for Wildlife weaves personal stories and natural history in a way that will inspire every landowner to explore and understand their property with an eye toward creating and improving habitat – both to help wildlife and to increase their own enjoyment and satisfaction in being the steward of a small part of nature.”
Make a Home for Wildlife is an excellent resource for private landowners, as well as biologists who are working with landowners to support their conservation efforts. It is available through the publisher in paperback/softback edition for $29.95 or as an electronic book for $27.99. It is also available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.