You don't need to own hundreds of acres to manage your property for wildlife, and the Ellingwoods have proof. Mark and Susan have lived on their 7 acre property in Hancock for 20 years, and over that time they've taken simple, but thoughtful steps to create a haven for wildlife right in their own backyard.
When deciding how to manage the property, Mark notes, "I look at what my neighbors have, and I try to offer something different for wildlife." For the Ellingwoods, that's meant cutting down small patches of forest and allowing them to regrow into young forest habitat for species like woodcock and ruffed grouse. Compared to wildlife openings created on larger properties, these openings totaling about 1.5 acres may seem small, but it's providing different habitat from the surrounding landscape.
Another way the Ellingwoods have improved their backyard for wildlife is by letting a portion of their lawn revert to what looks like a small patch of wildflower meadow. They only mow this area once every other year or so, and as a result it's packed with milkweed, goldenrod, thistle, and other wilflowers that benefit wildlife and insects.
It may sound like a lot of work for a small property, but Mark is quick to note that he only works on a little bit each year, "One year I might focus on removing invasive plants, the next year I might cut down some larger trees, and the next use the brush saw to maintain my young forest." It's clear from Mark and Susan's enthusiasm for wildlife that they don't mind doing the work, and it's certainly worth it for all the wildlife they've observed on their small piece of land.