published Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Backyard habitat workshop

IF YOU GO

What: Backyard Habitat Workshop.

When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday (preceded by Ranger Rick's Backyard Safari bird shows at 2 and 2:15 p.m.).

Where: Tennessee Aquarium, River Journey building auditorium, 1 Broad St.

Admission: Free with regular aquarium admission of $24.95 adults, $14.95 ages 3-12.

Phone: 800-262-0695.

Website: www.tnaqua.org.

Want to enjoy the flutter of colorful birds and butterflies from your back porch?

Bill Haley, Tennessee Aquarium outreach education coordinator, will give pointers to transform your home turf into a backyard habitat Saturday afternoon at the Tennessee Aquarium.

Haley's own yard is one of 100,000 certified backyards by the National Wildlife Federation.

"Many of us walk into our backyards and don't realize that hidden among the plants are animals such as turtles that are going about their daily lives," said Dave Collins, curator of forests, in a news release.

Critters don't just happen across a homeowners' path, explained Collins. Their home ranges and ours simply overlap.

Aquarium educators believe that once people understand this relationship, they can encourage it by preserving green space and improving their backyard habitat.

"Just because we talk about attracting wildlife doesn't necessarily mean you are going to draw snakes," reassures Haley. "My backyard habitat workshop focuses on flowers, pollen for butterflies, seeds for birds."

Haley said to lure these winged creatures, homeowners must have four key elements: food, water, shelter and a place for birds to raise their young.

"You've got to have a diversity of plantings. For example, pink, red or orange flowers with tubular blooms will attract hummingbirds. I try to add a new flower bed every year," said Haley.

Apartment or condo dwellers aren't excluded from his talk.

"Believe it or not, there are lots of things you can do on your balcony that will attract wildlife, such as hanging bird feeders or container gardening."

Haley said his talk will complement the aquarium's animal programming in the Ranger Rick Gallery that will take place all day Saturday. At 2 and 2:15 p.m., Ranger Rick's Backyard Safari will host bird shows before Haley's workshop.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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