12. Pond: Although our Nature Center pond is very small, it is home to a surprising variety of wildlife. The footbridge crossing the pond offers some of the best wildlife watching opportunities on site. The fish you might see here include bass, trout, sturgeon, and suckers. In addition to the fish, this small pond attracts muskrat, mink, beaver, great blue herons, and several species of ducks and songbirds. Nesting boxes around the pond provide secure places for wood ducks to hatch their eggs. Goose-nesting platforms are also used every year, and if your timing is right, you may also get to see newly hatched goslings jump from the platform to the water below.
13. Beaver Dam Exhibit: Beavers are nature's engineers. The dams beavers build create wetlands. These wetlands provide great habitat for other animals while also storing water that keeps streams flowing during low-water seasons. The abandoned beaver dam and lodge at the Nature Center were relocated from central Idaho. Though no beaver lives at the Nature Center, some do visit from their lodges along the Boise River. Late winter and early spring are the best times to look for beavers in our pond. Notice how some tree species are adapted to withstand beaver "attacks". Aspens, willows and cottonwoods grow new shoots after beaver feed on them.
14. Viewing Blind Being still and quiet is the best way to see wildlife. Blinds allow you to enjoy the sights and sounds of wildlife. So, relax and spend a few minutes in one of our blinds to watch and listen to the wildlife around you.
15. Butterfly Garden: This beautiful garden demonstrates how home gardeners can attract a variety of birds and butterflies to their own habitat. Although the plants in this garden were specifically chosen to attract nectar-feeding species, hummingbirds and butterflies, many other bird and insect species are attracted as well. Also note the butterfly box at the south entrance of the garden.
16. Compost Bins: Compost is a rich soil created through a natural rotting process called decomposition. Insects, earthworms, bacteria, and fungi are all key players in this process. The rotting of fallen trees is an example of natural composting. Rotting trees become the soil that supports the plants that in turn support wildlife.
You can improve the soils in your own backyard by composting. Create your own compost heap with grass clippings, leaves, other yard waste, and vegetable scraps. Backyard composting reduces landfill space needed, improves the soil, and conserves water.
Composting is one small thing we can do to save money and resources, while improving our surroundings.
17. Formal Backyard: Create the habitat and wildlife will come, even to urban spaces. All the essential components of animal habitat are provided in a relatively small area. The pond provides the water, while a variety of carefully chosen plants provide food and shelter. Fruit and seed bearing plants offer food. Trees and shrubs, at different heights, provide optimum shelter. By adding these features to your lawn, your backyard can be an attractive place for people and wildlife.
18. Native Plant Garden: Native landscaping provides striking beauty, attracts wildlife and conserves water all at the same time. Once established, native plants survive just fine on what little water Mother Nature provides here in southwestern Idaho. Mule deer, hummingbirds, and a variety of insects are the most frequent visitors to this small plot of native landscaping. Schools, businesses, and homeowners in and around Boise have begun to incorporate native plants into their landscaping designs. Nature Center staff can help you get started. Contact us at 334.2225