Two Overlooked Wildlife Food Sources: Nuts and Tree Sap

| 7/24/2012 9:09:05 AM

A profile pic of MaryGardening for wildlife means growing food for the wildlife that lives and visits your garden.  Two food sources that are appreciated by all wildlife in the spring and in autumn are nuts and tree sap.  Nuts provide energy for birds migrating south and last-minute food for mammals getting ready to hibernate.  Tree sap provides an early-spring food source for nectar-loving butterflies.


Nut-bearing trees are an important component of a natural habitat, or wildlife garden. Oaks and hickories are necessary if you want a healthy population of deer, raccoons, fox, turkeys, mice, squirrels, and wood ducks since the nuts produced by these trees are an important food source for these animals. Depending on where you live, you may also catch a glimpse of a black bear enjoying a nutty treat. Oaks and hickories are slow to mature so it will take a few years for the trees to produce nuts, all the more reason to plant oak and hickory trees this autumn.

  • White oak (Quercus alba) is a great native tree. As I'm sure you have read, oak trees support more types of bird food than any other plant in North America. So as you wait for the tree to produce acorns, enjoy the birds as they feed on the many insects that live in the white oak.
  • Shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) has interesting, pealing bark. The hickory nut provides food and visual interest in the winter with its shaggy bark and tasty nuts.

Yes, many of the creatures that are attracted to nuts can be a nuisance, so keep that in mind when adding an oak or hickory to your landscape. I have gotten to the 'If you can't beat 'em, join 'em' mind set so I share my gardens with the local wildlife. I don't have the energy anymore to trap, zap, or put up barriers.

Tree Sap 

I never thought much about tree sap providing food for wildlife until this past spring. We had a long stretch of 80-degree weather in March then normal spring weather in April and May. This early summer weather caused many trees and flowering plants to flower early, before migrating birds and butterflies made it north.  So what did these birds and butterflies eat when they got here? Tree sap.

7/25/2012 4:07:08 PM

Mary, the more I observe the newly acquired property for gardening, the more I am learning about the balance of nature. A good portion of the property will be planted to provide a food source for the animals that make their home near my garden. After all I did invade their land. I figure it's only right to try to maintain a good relationship with them. They are just being the best rabbits, wild turkeys, deer, raccoons, and groundhog that they can be. Right? We shouldn't forget the snakes and hawks the reside their as well. I'm glad that the snakes have gone more into the wild and left the garden area. I know they are beneficial to the garden and eat bugs but they are just too sneaky for me. Hopefully, I can continue to have a mind set to plan a garden with wild life in mind. So in a way it's not only a community garden for humans but also a community garden for the wild life as well. Have a great wild life food source day.

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