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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Gardening: Even urban lots can be made to attract wildlife

By Pat Munts For The Spokesman-Review

These past two weeks have been wonderful for wildlife watching in our neighborhood. Driving home the other evening, I saw my first mama deer with her fawn in tow. Usually we have at least one doe who has her fawn in our field. Mama will then leave them there hidden in the grass while she goes off to eat. We’ve surprised several hidden fawns over the years.

My husband has been filling the bird feeder with sunflower seeds about every day and a half which means the birds are feeding nestlings. Pretty soon the baby finches will be lining the porch rail expecting to be fed. It gets a bit noisy when that happens because my office window is right there, I might have to close the window for the next Zoom meeting.

The hummingbirds are around and draining the one-pint feeder every week. They have nests in our maple tree, and I hear their tiny high-pitched voices when I’m sitting in my chair.

The most exciting sighting however was the mama skunk who brought her seven kits down to our watering bowl about 9 one recent morning. When I first saw them, they were a mass of black and white kind of flowing across the grass.

Mom showed them how to drink and then spent her time trying to keep them corralled. Pretty soon they were headed back into the brush. We thought this was a pretty cool one-off treat until I walked into my office not 10 minutes later and there under the bird feeder was another mama skunk and her three babies cleaning up the seeds.

This isn’t the first time we’ve encountered our skunks, and I’m happy to say we’ve never been sprayed. This includes the time our cat slapped a skunk right outside the wide-open back door.

While these are special opportunities, wildlife is wild and needs to be treated with respect. Right now, it might be very tempting to “rescue” a fawn or pick up some baby birds who got “lost” but in reality, most wildlife should be left where you find it. Many times, the mother has stashed offspring so she can go off and feed or find food. Or she has seen you and is hiding nearby until it’s safe to come out. By law in Washington, any wildlife you find must be left alone where you found it.

If you are interested in learning more about Washington’s wildlife, check out the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website at Here you will find extensive information on the lives and habits of many of our wildlife as well as the Habitat at Home Program that can help you turn your backyard into a place where wildlife can thrive. Even urban lots can be made wildlife friendly with the addition of native plants, a source of water and shelter from predators and the weather.

Pat Munts can be reached at