No matter where they live — country, city or suburbs — homeowners can tweak their landscape to make it wildlife-friendly.

While most wild mammals, with the exception of crop-damaging whitetailed deer, are usually found in more rural settings, wild birds are ubiquitous. With a bit of forethought, it’s easy to make our property more user-friendly to our wild neighbors. Here are some suggestions for how to achieve your own personal wildlife haven.

Siting feeders

While everyone enjoys watching songbirds as they visit feeding stations, not everyone takes special pains regarding where to erect feeders. It is well to remember that birds have many enemies, and where their feeder is placed can have a huge bearing on whether or not the birds can visit and feed in safety.

With the exception of neighbors' cats (the only solution to bird-killing cats is to first ask the owner to keep their animal on their own property and if that fails, contact local law enforcement and see if you may capture the cat and take it to the nearest shelter), songbirds' biggest enemies are other birds, notably hawks.

Anyone who has ever watched a sharp-shinned hawk smash a chickadee to dust as it ate at a feeder has probably experienced a sinking feeling of pure hopelessness. Chances are, though, that the feeder was out in the open, far away from any form of cover. Hawks can have a field day at such a feeder.

But if a feeder sits only 10 feet or less from the protection of woods, shrubbery or even ornamental trees, the birds at least have a fighting chance to escape to safety in the event of an attack from above.

So if you are setting out a feeder and the only option is out in the open, consider planting a bushy ornamental nearby for the birds to use as a safety net.

Helpful trees

Some years ago, I bought a grafted weeping willow in a 4-inch pot. This willow grew quickly, but never attained a height over two feet. But it more than made up for its lack of height by its great width and near-impenetrable thickness.

Ground-feeding birds instantly run to this busy little willow at the first sign of danger. And foraging birds manage to find a ready source of insects under the willow, too. Right now, song sparrows are regular visitors to the willow tree and its environs. So quite naturally, I spread seeds and leftover bits of bread on the ground near the willow. There, the little songbirds can forage with impunity.

Next, a flowering crabapple tree gives us several benefits. In May when the tree blooms, the air becomes filled with a sweet, delightful aroma. And when in full bloom, a flowering crab presents a beautiful, eye-catching sight.

But it is the tiny apples, not big enough to use in any practical manner, that attract not only songbirds during the off-season, but also game birds, such as ruffed grouse. Once a grouse or several grouse home in on a fruit-laden crabapple tree, they will make regular forays in order to feed on the ripened fruit.

The crabapple tree in my front yard, being a grafted, extremely bushy variety, offers larger songbirds sanctuary, just as the little willow tree does for smaller, ground-feeding birds. A robin or even a blue jay can sit inside the protective canopy afforded by the crabapple tree and watch predators try, without success, to penetrate into the inner sanctum.

Bat houses

Some people fear bats and do everything in their power to drive them away. True, bats, like other warm-blooded mammals, can carry rabies. But the chances of a rabid bat attacking are quite small. Consider, though, that our Maine bats face not only habitat loss due to development, but also a host of diseases that have already depleted their numbers.

Bats have a plus side for homeowners, and that is their incredible prowess as mosquito-catchers. When bats come around and circle our yards in the evening, we can rest assured that they are catching great amounts of mosquitoes, mosquitoes that would otherwise bite us.

In years past, bats often maintained colonies in our huge Maine barns. But now many of these old barns are being dismantled and sold piecemeal as “rustic building materials.” And what barns remain are usually buttoned up tightly in order to keep bats out.

But we, as homeowners, have one thing we can do to help our Maine bats, and that is to erect a bat house. These look something like birdhouses, except they lack an entrance hole and perch. Completely enclosed except for a narrow vent at the bottom, bat houses have a baffled interior for bats to cling to.

Inconspicuous as can be, bat houses provide a decent measure of protection for our disappearing bats.

Brushpile and wolf trees

Lots of small mammals, as well as some birds, make use of brushpiles as a place to live in relative safety from larger predators. But with the advent of chippers, devices that turn small limbs to woodchips, few homeowners even consider making their scrap limbs and brush into piles.

One thing on the con side of making brushpiles is that they look ugly, especially when new. But in only a few years, brushpiles compress naturally, taking the rough edge off.

Certainly, no one wants brushpiles on their lawn or in their yard. But those with a woodland setting can contribute greatly to their local wildlife by using limbs from trees harvested for firewood to make wildlife-friendly brushpiles.

And then we have wolf trees. These are usually large, ancient trees that have no commercial value other than being responsible for re-seeding other trees of their kind. But those who refrain from removing these trees do wildlife a huge favor.

An older, perhaps half-dead wolf tree contains lots of boring-type insects and these insects are a favorite food of woodpeckers, not only the smaller hairy and downy woodpeckers, but also the larger, very striking, pileated woodpeckers.

But that’s not all, as they say on TV. After the tree dies, those large borings left by pileated woodpeckers become home to untold wildlife species. From raccoons to songbirds, those old, cavity-ridden wolf trees are perhaps the best things that ever happened to wildlife.

So this spring, if possible, consider landscaping for wildlife. You won’t be disappointed.

Tom’s tips

Here are two household tips from 19-century newspapers that still have merit today.

First, to open a clogged pipe, pour a half-cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a quarter-cup of vinegar.

Second, to keep biting mosquitoes away, rub exposed skin with either vinegar or lemon juice. The mosquitoes may buzz, but they won’t bite skin so protected.