Inviting Wildlife to the Landscape

Hello Wild Side Readers,

If you are new to this blog, I share information on Ohio’s wildlife, but as an educator, I also create posts related to education events I present at. Recently, I presented at the 2021 Ohio Turf Foundation and Green Industry Short Course (OTF/GISC) annual conference. My topic was the title of this post – attracting friendly wildlife (those species that do not typically cause conflict or damage) into landscapes in our communities. That could mean commercial properties, public or recreation areas, park properties, and backyard spaces. The below are resources I shared during that presentation, as well as the slide set. For those of you that were not in attendance, never fear – this presentation (which is a recorded webinar) is very similar if you’d like to watch it.

Attracting Birds and Other Wildlife to the Landscape – Slide set from 2021 OTF/GISC Conference

Additional Resources:

Doug Tallamy webinar – Restoring Nature’s Relationships at Home (the connection between trees and caterpillars)

3 Billion Birds Lost Research and Website

Alternatives to Non-native, Invasive Plants Brochure and Website– Ohio Invasive Plant Council

Butterflies & Moths of North America

Nesting and Overwintering Habitat for Pollinators and Other Beneficial Insects

Wildlife Conflict Resources

Ohio Trees for Bees – OSU Extension fact sheet

Enhancing Food (Mast) Production for Woodland Wildlife – OSU Extension fact sheet


Butterflies of Ohio Field Guide by Jaret C. Daniels

Good Garden Bugs by Mary M. Gardiner

Shrubs and Woody Vines of Indiana and the Midwest by Sally and Harmon Weeks

Native Trees of the Midwest by Weeks, Weeks, and Parker

Research papers:

Baker et al. 2020 – Suitability of native milkweed (Asclepias) species versus cultivars for supporting monarch butterflies and bees in urban gardens

Ricker et al. 2019 – Comparing Insect Pollination Visitation for Six Native Shrub Species and their Cultivars

Remember the power that our community green spaces can have – they foster an appreciation for nature and wildlife. Happy Wildscaping!

Marne Titchenell

Wildlife Program Specialist


Deer and COVID-19 – What is Going On?

Hello Wild Side Readers,

Have you seen headlines in the news lately about deer with COVID-19? Some of these headlines are a bit misleading. Check out the below information on what is really going on.


SARS-CoV-2 and Deer

In a late August press release, the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory announced confirmation of the virus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) in wild wild-tailed deer in Ohio. Earlier studies have shown that deer can be experimentally infected with the virus, and that wild deer (from samples in IL, MI, NY, and PA) had antibodies to the virus.

  • The deer tested were positive for the virus (SARS-CoV-2) but were not diagnosed with the illness (COVID-19). Some headlines you may see (including the above press release) are misleading! Currently, it appears that deer are asymptomatic carriers of the virus.
  • According to the Ohio Department of Health, there is no evidence that animals, including deer, play a significant role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 to people.
    • Based on the available information, the risk of animals spreading SARS-CoV-2 to people is low.
  • Currently, it is unknown how the deer contracted the virus, though typically the route of infection is from human to animals.
    • Infections have been reported in a small number of other wildlife species, mostly in animals that had close contact with a person with COVID-19. More info here.

Is hunter-harvested game meat safe to eat?

  • According to the Ohio Department of Health, there is no evidence that people can get SARS-CoV-2 by preparing or eating meat from an animal infected with SARS-CoV-2, including wild game meat hunted in the United States.
  • Hunters should always practice good hygiene when processing animals.

Additional actions to stop virus transmission:

  • To limit deer-to-deer transmission, the Ohio Division of Wildlife continues to urge homeowners and hunters to avoid concentrating deer at backyard feeders or in hunting situations. In addition to SARS-CoV-2, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and bovine tuberculosis (bTB) remain on the list of diseases that could be easily transmitted from deer to deer under these situations. CWD was confirmed in two wild deer in Wyandot County during the 2020-21 deer hunting season (see here for more information on CWD in Ohio’s deer herd). Ohio’s herd remains bTB-free.

More information:

  • Contact the Ohio Department of Health for questions about the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from white-tailed deer to humans; 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634) or
  • Contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture for questions about the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to pets or livestock; 614-728-6201 or
  • Press release on Deer with Antibodies to SARS-CoV-2
  • FAQ on Deer with Antibodies Study – also has food safety recs for hunters processing animals


Thanks for reading!

Marne Titchenell

Wildlife Program Specialist

Nest Boxes for Wildlife

Hello Wild Side Readers,

Did you know how important dead trees are to wildlife? When a tree dies, it’s starts the next chapter in it’s life as habitat for insects and other invertebrates, fungi, lichen, moss, birds, mammals, and a host of other organisms. I recently gave (as in 1 hour ago) a webinar on the Important of Dead Wood to Wildlife. Check it out here if you have the chance. I strongly encourage any woodland owners and homeowners to think of ways to incorporate dead wood into your properties if attracting wildlife is one of the goals for your woods or backyard.

Nest boxes are a tool we can use to provide a feature of dead trees and live trees that wildlife go crazy for – cavities! Many species utilize cavities, from birds and mammals big and small, to reptiles and amphibians, native bees, and honeybees. Below are some slides I’ve put together on different nest box specification for wildlife – where to place them, tips on construction, and maintenance recommendations.

Nest Box Specifications for Species 

Here are additional resources on nest boxes, including plans for building your own! The great thing about nest boxes is that you don’t have to be a skilled wood worker to build a nest box – I speak from experience. Thankfully, the wildlife won’t care if they aren’t perfect. This makes this a great activity for kids, too. Monitoring the nest boxes also makes for a great activity. For some boxes, like those for bluebirds or tree swallow, the boxes are within reach and can easily be viewed. For those that are mounted higher, you might consider a wildlife/trail camera. These types of cameras are readily available and can be set up facing or even inside the nest box to get some great pics and footage of who is using the box.

ODNR, Division of Wildlife – Nest Box Plans

Bat House Plans


Marne Titchenell
Wildlife Program Specialist

The Benefits of Bats

Hello Wild Side Readers!

ICYMI – check out the short 4-minute video I created for the virtual Farm Science Review on the benefits of bats and how to attract them to your farm or woodland! Below are some additional resources and videos – enjoy!


Publications & Websites:

Thanks for learning more about bats!

(Psssst…don’t forget! National Bat Week is coming soon – October 24th – 31st, 2020! Be sure to check The Ohio Bat Working Group website for additional ways to learn about bats!)

“The last word in ignorance is the person who says of an
animal or plant: What good is it?” ~ Aldo Leopold

Owls of Ohio

Hello Wild Side Readers!

If you caught my last post, you’ll know that this year’s Farm Science Review is virtual and all educational materials and presentations will be available starting next week. Check out my last post for more info and the schedule of Gwynne Conservation Area Presentations.

One of the Gwynne presentations is called Owls of Ohio. In the video I created, I promised to provide additional resources for attracting owls to your property. Below is a list of additional resources on owls. Enjoy!

OSU Extension Fact Sheet – Dead Trees for Wildlife

NC State Extension Working with Wildlife – Owls

Ohio Division of Wildlife Owls of Ohio Field Guide

Ohio Division of Wildlife Attracting Birds of Ohio – nest box plans for screech owl

Barn Owl Population Status Report

Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds – more info about each owl species


Marne Titchenell

Wildlife Program Specialist

In Ohio, short-eared owls can be seen during winter hunting over open fields and grasslands.

2020 Gwynne Conservation Area Farm Science Review Presentations

Hello Wild Side Readers!

Next week is Farm Science Review (FSR), one of the largest farm shows in the country, hosted by the Ohio State University and the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Monday through Thursday usually finds me at the show on the Gwynne Conservation Area, which is down the road from the Molly Caren Agricultural Center, the site of FSR.

Among many activities, the Gwynne typically hosts a series of professionals talks geared towards farmers, woodland owners, and other landowners about conservation and natural resources management. This year, FSR is virtual, and so all 45 talks planned for 2020 at the Gwynne are now moving to an online platform!

Check out the full schedule of talks here.

I’ve also added a short tutorial below on how to watch the talks from your computer or other device, starting Sept. 22, 2020. Please reach out to me in the comments below if you have any questions. I hope you enjoy the show!

How to access Gwynne Conservation Area talks during 2020 FSR:

  1.  Go to and click on ‘Conservation
  2.  Create a ‘My Show Planner’ Account (don’t skip this step!)
  3.  Click on ‘Home’ and search for keyword ‘Gwynne
  4.  A list of the Gwynne subject matter areas should appear (i.e. ‘Gwynne Forages and Grazing Education‘, ‘Gwynne Woodland Educations’, etc.). Click on each subject matter to get to the list of scheduled talks.
    • You can add the scheduled talks to your ‘My Show Planner’ in order to easily find the talks you want to watch the next time that you sign in. Talks can be added to your ‘My Show Planner‘ now!
  5.  Under each scheduled talk, there will be a link. Click on the link to watch a video of the talk. For the ‘live sessions’ the link will take you to a zoom meeting room.

For more information on FSR 2020 and how to navigate the vitual show site, visit the links below:

Farm Science Review 2020 – Free and Online

Full Schedule of ALL the talks going on during FSR 2020

Navigating the FSR virtual show site


Marne Titchenell

Wildlife Program Specialist

Butterflies, Hummingbirds, and More: If You Build It, They Will Come

Hello Wild Side Readers!

Summer is here and if you are anything like me, you are enjoying the birds and butterflies visiting your backyards and landscape. If backyard landscaping for hummingbirds and butterflies is on your to-do list this year, the below resources are for you! I’ve posted several plant lists for hummingbirds and butterflies, as well as additional fact sheets and online resources.

What to Plant for Hummingbirds:

Many of the above plants will also be visited by butterflies. Remember to aim for continuous blooms throughout the growing season. Here is a suggested (but by no mean all inclusive) list of plants by their bloom times.

And finally, here is a double-duty list of trees and shrubs for both birds and butterflies:

Additional Resources:

Ways to get involved:

If you want more information on landscaping with native plants for birds other than hummingbirds, check out this article.

Enjoy those flutters and fliers!

Marne Titchenell

Wildlife Program Specialist

Landscaping for Birds Resources

Hello Everyone,

Recently, I gave a webinar for Ohio Master Gardener Volunteers (MGVs) on Landscaping for Birds. The webinar can be viewed here if you are interested. (We did have a few technical difficulties in the beginning of the webinar, apologies, so feel free to skip to the 4 mins and 15 second mark to avoid it.) I promised to post the plant lists I had in the presentation, so here they are!

Landscaping for Birds – MGV Webinar – April 2020 – plant list slides

Also, here are links to the other resources I referenced in my presentation:

OSU Fact Sheet: Native Landscape for Wildlife

OSU Fact Sheet: Backyard Enhancement for Wildlife

Penn State’s Landscaping for Wildlife: Trees, Shrubs, and Vines

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (info on native plants and wildlife uses)

The Ohio Woodland Stewards Program

eBird Animated Abundance Maps

ebird Explore Data (this is where you can see where birds are during the year)

ODNR, Division of Wildlife Publications (Click on ‘Living with Wildlife’)

Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds (for great info on NA birds including songs and calls)

Project Feeder Watch (info on feeding birds)

Audubon Guide to NA Birds

Information on Managing House Sparrows in Nest Boxes

Management Guides to Manage Birds in Small and Large Forest Patches

I hope you all enjoyed the webinar. Thank you so much for attending!

Marne Titchenell

OSU Extension, Wildlife Program Specialist

Gray Catbird