Urban Affairs and New Nontraditional Programs

Water for Wildlife

Recreational, Educational, and Commercial Forestry Enterprises


Wildlife restoration and maintenance requires food sources; habitats to live, hunt and mate; and fresh water supplies. Food types, habitats, and the quantity of water needed may vary and depend on the wildlife you want to attract.

picture of a gray fox in its natural habitatA cover or habitat is more than just a roof or protection from rain, cold, wind, and snow. It is protection from predators and it provides escape routes. It is also important to include travel routes that are safe and continuous with no breaks from one habitat to another. These routes must be created and/or maintained to allow wildlife to find resources for their survival. A spatial habitat is especially important for larger animals such as deer or foxes. They need large foraging and covered areas for food and safety zones. Cover can be a stand of trees, an overgrown fence-row, or even a weed-filled ditch to protect them from view of possible threats or at least some distance from threats.

Birds need nesting cover, roosting cover, and screening or escape routes. They also require bare ground for dusting, crop cover that is insect rich for rearing young, and winter nesting areas that have dense cover under a wooded canopy.

picture of a ruffled grouse in its natural habitatSome wildlife such as opossums can live almost anywhere, including your backyard. While other wildlife are extremely selective about where they live. Ruffed grouse once roamed the Bankhead National Forest in Northwestern Alabama, but are now primarily restricted to the Southern end of the Cumberland Plateau in Northeast Alabama. They prefer overgrown fields, timber waste from tree cutting, and mature and second growth hardwood forests.

Small changes in wildlife habitat can cause a decrease in one species and an increase in another less desirable species. Several species may have similar requirements such as bobwhite quail, white-tailed rabbits, and cardinals. Creating food sources and habitats for wildlife may not be enough to increase populations. Often, this is a result of a lack of breeding sites. It is important to learn and to create the appropriate breeding site for your preferred wildlife.

This project is supported in part by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and by the
Renewable Resources Extension Act (RREA).

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