Creature Hero Projects
Create a Backyard Creaturefuge
No matter where you live, chances are you have some fascinating creatures living around you. Fortunately, there are plenty of fun ways that you can help animals right outside your house. In fact, you can do projects that help turn your backyard (or local community) into your very own mini wildlife refuge. Here are some tips for your Backyard Creaturefuge:
- Check out our Creature Crafts Video
- Take a pinecone and tie a string around it
- Spread peanut butter on the pinecone, making sure every crack is filled
- Roll the pinecone in birdseed and/or dried fruit mixture
- Hang the pinecone on a tree at least 5 feet from the ground
- Sit back and try to spot the different species of birds that visit the pinecone!
- Take a flowerpot (or similar pot) and break a semicircular opening, about 4 inches in diameter, on the rim
- Turn the pot upside down and place on the ground (preferably near flowers or shrubs)
- Bury rim into ground, leaving room for opening
- Place saucer on top of overturned pot and fill with potting mix + your choice of seeds
- Check back to find the toads that live there!
- Plant a mix of perennial wildflowers, annual wildflowers, and shrubs in your backyard
- Be careful not to use pesticides or overuse fertilizers – they can harm nearby creatures!
- Give shelter to pollinators by letting a log decompose or planting a bush nearby
- Provide water in a saucer or bowl, placing rocks inside to provide drinking perches
- If you can, try to add a hummingbird feeder to the garden
- Come back to count all the new visitors!
- Purchase or build a bat house with your parents
- Find or purchase a pole to mount the house on (a barn or building with wood, brick, or stone siding works too). Make sure there is a water source nearby – under a quarter-mile away.
- With your parents, take an extension ladder and drill the house into your pole (12-20 feet off the ground) using screws
- Sit outside at dusk to watch the bats come out to feed on insects
*NOTE Bats can be infected with rabies, use caution when viewing them
- Gather a bunch of stones
- Find a sunny, south-facing spot and pile the stones into a mound
- Make sure there are lots of small nooks and crannies inside the pile to allow reptiles to move in and out
- Allow grass to grow long around it
- Be on the lookout for sunbathing visitors like snakes, lizards, and turtles!
- Instead of cutting down that dead tree in your backyard, simply leave it up (if it’s safe to do so)! It provides vital habitat for birds
- Woodpeckers eat grubs found in trees and create holes for their nests
- Eagles and other birds of prey perch on branches to hunt for food
- Consider putting a pinecone bird feeder up to attract new birds
- Sit back and spot your new neighbors!
Gather a plastic water bottle, disposable red bowl, and yellow drinking straws
Cut out flower shape from bowl and then punch a hole in the center just big enough for a straw
Drill hole in top of bottle cap just wide enough for a straw
Insert straw into the hole in the bottle cap, push on the cut-out flower, and then seal with non-toxic glue. Make sure the straw bends after it exits the bottle
Wrap wire around bottle to hang upside down from a tree
Remove cap to add nectar (sugar water) to the bottle
Hang and watch hummingbirds stop at your new creation!
Stray trash pollutes ecosystems and harms all our fellow creatures
You may choose to do this in your neighborhood, a local park, or even a beach
Gather a trash bag and walk around the area, picking up garbage and litter
Disposable plastic is the priority, as it is the most harmful to wild creatures
Make the walk even more fun! Bring your pets for a walk and explore!
Check out these detailed directions and make sure to build the Butterfly House with your parents
You will need wood, screws, nails, a jigsaw, copper pipe strap, a drill, a hammer, and moisture-proof glue
The house will feature small slits for butterflies to enter, with places inside for butterflies to rest
Once completed, make sure to place the house in an area with lots of flowering plants, mounted 2 to 3 feet off the ground
- Research which trees are native to your area
- Go to a local nursery and purchase a sapling
- Identify the ‘root ball’: the collection of dirt and roots at the base of the sapling
- Dig a broad, shallow hole for planting (around 2-3 times wider than the root ball, but only as deep as it the root ball)
- Place the sapling into the hole
- Fill hole with soil gently, then pat it down lightly with your hands
- Put mulch around the base of the tree to hold moisture
- Make sure the tree receives water at least once a week
- Take one 5-foot 1 x 6 inch board (preferably pine wood)
- Build the bird house according to these directions or purchase online
- Place bird house on a pole or hang from a tree at least 5 feet above the ground
- Make sure your birdhouse is located away from any bird feeders or ponds you have
- Check back in spring and place nesting material for birds inside house (cottontail nesting balls, pet hair, lint, thread or yarn)
- Watch the house for any birds that come by!
- Rake your backyard leaves into a pile
- Add a log pile or wood chippings on top if you have them
- These leaves will act as a mulch and fertilizer for the ground
- The leaf pile will be a vital hibernation spot for toads, frogs, and other amphibians
- The pile will also serve as a home for tons of insects, which can feed local birds
- Poke around the pile in early spring to reveal all the creatures you helped!
- Take any bowl, saucer, platter, or tray that can hold water
- Get a pedestal or gather materials that you can make one out of (bricks, wood, etc.)
- Place the pedestal near a natural feature (a tree, bush, lawn, etc.)
- Place the bowl/saucer/platter on top of the pedestal and fill with water
- Customize your bird bath any way you want! Check out these bird baths
- Watch the bird bath for any birds that come by!
- Purchase vegetable seeds at your local store
- Follow these steps or make your own!
- Pick a grassy spot with a good amount of dirt underneath; remove the around 3 inches of sod (current soil and grass) with a spade or shovel
- Add an inch of compost (including leaf compost if you wish!) to the area
- Use a shovel to the mix together the compost and the underlying dirt, making sure to break up any clumps that come up
- Plant any seeds you’d like to grow, making sure to follow the directions on the seed packet! Make sure to plant after the last frost in your area.
- Water the seeds/plants according to the directions!
- Once the vegetable plants have established, place mulch around them to prevent water loss and weed growth
- Harvest your very own vegetables at the end of the season!
- Purchase berry seeds or bushes at your local store or nursery (could be blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, currents, etc.)
- Tip: You can sometimes use your own berry seeds from berries you already have!
- Choose a spot to plant your bush/seeds with good drainage, ample sunlight, and fertile soil (look online for instructions about your specific berry plant)
- Follow the directions from your seed packet or bush and plant in your garden
- Make sure to give the berries enough water if mother nature doesn’t oblige
- Once the berry bushes have established themselves, place mulch around them to prevent water loss and weed growth
- Come back to pick the berries and keep on the lookout for birds, bears, and other creatures that will come to feast!