Whether you live in one of Fort Lauderdale’s high-rise condos or a bungalow on an acre of property, you have the ability to provide a welcoming habitat for our wild neighbors. We'd love for you to support us in our goal to become a certified Community Wildlife Habitat by developing a certified habitat on your property. Read the advice and instructions on this page, and then don't forget to get certified.
What is a habitat?
Habitats can be a place for birds, mammals, reptiles, or insects. They can be small or large-- as big as a whole back yard or as small as a container garden. For all habitats, there are four essential requirements: food, water, cover, and a place for wildlife to raise their young. Specifically, to qualify for certification, each habitat must have:
- 3 food sources
- 1 water source
- 3 cover and nesting spaces
While you are learning, planning and getting started, you can participate by beginning with simple things, such as setting out a shallow dish of water or planting milk weed for butterflies. So even though you may not be able to change your landscape just yet, small steps can make a big difference.
In some cases, you may not need to do anything at all! Some elements of your property may already be a part of the criteria for a habitat, such as a burrow for wildlife to raise their young or a dense set of shrubs for shelter. Check our main habitats webpage for links to resources you can use to evaluate your property.
Give it Time
You can have a lot of fun if you design your landscape with wildlife in mind. The possibilities are endless -- from ponds to wildflower plots. Like any garden, a habitat gives back what you put into it. Take the time to explore the many resources available on our website and through the National Wildlife Federation. You can also check out the University of Florida's Living Green webpages and particularly Landscaping for Wildlife which includes 10 easy to follow tips for creating a wildlife friendly landscape.
Don't have a lot of space?
In a dense urban area like Fort Lauderdale, many of our neighbors live in multi-family dwellings that do not have a backyard or garden space, however a small balcony or doorstop can still be the perfect place for a Certified Wildlife Habitat. A square or circular half barrel planter found at any hardware or nursery work well for a habitat for a small space. Watch The City of Fort Lauderdale's Urban Forester, Gene Dempsey explain how to make a container habitat in your home. Or, check out NatureScape Broward's A Simple Habitat publication to learn how to meet the minimum requirements for a certified habitat within a container.
Need Ideas? Go see our habitats.
The City of Fort Lauderdale is already well on its way to making our home a safe place for our wild neighbors to thrive! Did you know that City Hall is one of them? Certified habitats come in all shapes and all sizes, and are located throughout the city! We have habitats in over 24 parks, 11 community centers and civic institutions, 12 schools, and even apartment complexes, not to mention countless yards and other landscaped areas which have been certified. Even City Hall has been certified. Maybe you've never noticed, but the animals have. All of that lush greenery outside our main entrance and alongside the building provide exactly what birds, bugs and animals need.
When you apply for certification through National Wildlife Federation, there is generally a nominal registration fee ($20). You may also pay an additional fee to obtain an optional metal sign designating your Certified Wildlife Habitat®. Once certified, you receive a 1-year subscription to the award-winning National Wildlife Magazine.
Get cash back!
As part of the Sustainability Incentive Grant program, points will be awarded for properties registered as Certified Wildlife Habitats within HOA boundaries for the 2015 Fiscal Year. HOAs can get .5 points for each certification, for a maximum of 5 points. In addition to earning points for certifying individual properties, HOA’s will be be separated into three categories based upon residential population – small, medium, and large. The HOA which registers the highest percent of new Certified Wildlife Habitats in each category will receive an additional point. Points translate to cash for your neighborhood!
Have Even More Fun
There are lots of ways to enhance your habitat and make it even more critter friendly. Here are a few ideas to try.
Instructables - Learn how to make a Frog Tube
Like many animals, frogs are experiencing population loss due to disease and habitat loss. Using just PVC pipe, you can easily create a frog tube in your yard that provides shelter and protection from the sun for smaller sized frogs.
Bats may not be the first thing to come to mind when thinking about our wild neighbors however; there are thirteen species of bats found in Florida, including subtropical regions like Fort Lauderdale! Bats are not the blood sucking creatures we know from movies and TV, in fact bats eat the bloodsucking creatures like mosquitoes and other insects. Bats are a form of natural pest control for our yards and open areas, a small bat can eat 3,000 insects a night.
So why build a bat box? Bats prefer to roost (hanging upside down while sleeping or resting) in caves or hallowed trees, but they can also be found roosting in buildings or other man made structures. Vandalism and development are harming bat habitats and populations in Florida and building a wooden bat box in your yard is a perfect way to keep these misunderstood creatures of the night feeling more at home.