One of the best ways to attract wildlife to your yard is to create a brushpile. We have several on our Littleton farm and they are often the focus of wildlife activity.
Decaying wood and its associated fungal growths attract a wide variety of small invertebrates, including worms, insects, spiders and slugs. In turn, these primary consumers are preyed on by dragonflies, mantids, toads, lizards, mice, shrews and birds; among the latter, wrens, thrashers, catbirds, towhees, sparrows and mourning doves are frequent patrons of brushpiles. Higher in the food chain, snakes, opossums and raccoons feed on many of the primary and secondary consumers but may, themselves, fall prey to hawks, owls and fox.
In a way, brushpiles are miniature wildlife areas. The life and death struggles that occur within and around their tangled architecture mirror the cycles of nature as a whole. After providing the basic structure, we need only observe and enjoy the many creatures that live and hunt in this backyard refuge for years to come.