Requirements for good wildlife habitat can be broken down into three basic needs: reliable water, food, and cover. While water and food needs are easy to understand, cover is more dynamic and its need varies from day to day and season to season.
The definition of wildlife cover is a space where the animal can be kept safe from predators and perhaps bad weather. Vegetation is an obvious example of cover, but so are rocks and brush piles. All wildlife species need a variety of cover types to survive. The following is a rundown of various cover types found in nature or can be provided by folks interested in juicing up wildlife populations.
Nest Cover: Birds, small mammal, and insects use trees and shrubs for nesting. Not only are the branches and leaves utilized, but cavities in old or damaged trees are especially critical for some animal species.
Brood Cover: Once born, cover to raise and nurture young to maturity takes on various forms. Some raptors need trees with an open canopy, while some songbirds need closed canopies or heavy brush for brood cover
Roosting Cover: Every layer of vegetation, from tall overstory trees to grass and shrubs on the forest floor, is a favored cover while sleeping for some species of wildlife.
Escape Cover: Animals often need a quick getaway place, and the type needed varies by species. This could be something as simple as a thick stand of blackberry bushes or a crack in a rock
Loafing Cover: Wildlife needs quiet areas where they are able to spend some down time in relative safety from predator and human disturbance.
Thermal Cover: This is most important in cold climates. Protection form temperature variation, wind, and storms are essential in harsh weather.
When it comes to habitat development, if you build it they will come. So whether you’re attracting an individual species, or several types, a little research will assure you get satisfactory results. Sources for more information include your local state forestry office, wildlife agency, or extension service.