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My yard is a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.  They
have recognized that I provide food, water, cover and places to raise young year round.    I am very proud of my certificate, and I encourage everyone to participate
in the Backyard Wildlife Habitat program.  Even if your garden is on an apartment
patio, you can still participate.  It's more than just sticking a birdfeeder and bird bath
out in the yard.  Leave some brush for hiding, plant some native plants and let some flowers set seed for food for the birds.  Put in a pond with water plants, and you'll
have toads, frogs, turtles, dragon flies, fish, maybe even a Blue Heron!

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          This is "Ace" the Blue Heron

I've had many visitors and I just wasn't quick enough (or close enough) with my
camera to get a good picture.  My whole family love watching the fox, raccoons,
and squirrels - although we groan when we see the coons raiding the bird feeders.    

MelRaccoon2.jpg (44071 bytes) MelRaccoon1.jpg (44808 bytes) So much for squirrel baffles.  We need a raccoon baffle, only, I don't think anything baffles them.
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One of our slower friends
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      Tony and his turtle friends.

I have several types of feeders in the yard, along with the 769,000 acres of forest
behind my house which supplies plenty of food for all types of critters.   We hear
the owls and whippoorwills all night.  There are black bear, dear, and of course
gators out in the woods.  People always ask if we have gators in our pond.   About
8 years ago there was one who decided to pay a visit.  He stayed around for a few
days, then went back to the swamp in the woods.  We have our fair share of snakes
too; water moccasins, rattlers, black racers, and various other water and grass snakes.  Most (not all) are harmless.  I've learned that the black racers feed on other snakes, including moccasins, so we like these guys.

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We get lots of bunnies.
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Bird feeders and bath in the back yard

Do we have fish in the pond?  ARE YOU KIDDING!!!!  I suppose the pond was initially stocked, but since we've lived here, we have never bought fish to put in there.  We have plenty of bass, catfish, brim, minnows, crawfish, salamanders, and turtles.

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Kids love fishin' on the dock.
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We DO have some big 'uns in there.

We are lucky to have the wonderful Eglin Reservation in our back yard.  This is 769,000 acres of unspoiled forest, owned by the United States Air Force.  There are many military training camps out in the woods, but near our house is mostly just trees and things that grow naturally (not Airmen).  Our pond is fed by a stream which runs along the edge of our property, and the stream is fed from a swamp in the reservation.   This swamp is fed by the Black River, which runs through the reservation.

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The stream going down to the lake

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The lake