In the Wild with Greg Wagner

GIVE ‘EM THE BRUSH (PILE) by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
November 30, 2009, 1:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized, Wildlife Habitat | Tags: ,

One of the neat things you can do for wildlife in your backyard, on your acreage, or perhaps on your farm or ranch this time of year is to establish a brush pile. It can be simply done by collecting downed or trimmed tree limbs and branches, pruned brush, plus discarded Christmas trees at the end of the holiday season.

Many animals utilize these brush piles during winter for protection from predators and snow when other cover sources are buried. From quail to cottontails, I learned long ago that brush piles can ensure a good population of small critters in an area. Look for a multitude of songbirds, everything from dark-eyed juncos to Harris’s sparrows to frequent brush piles as well.   

Though they are tremendously beneficial to wildlife, brush piles also attract raccoons, skunks and opossums. Because of this keep brush piles away from houses, barns and bird feeders located on or near the ground.

Building a brush pile is fantastic project for kids and adults alike. See the photo of a brush pile being constructed by my brother Steve and his family on their acreage near Gretna, NE.




Materials List

–       Fallen or cut tree limbs/branches of various sizes. After the holiday season, add real, cleaned off Christmas trees (no flocked trees) to the brush pile.


Construction Notes

–        Stack your brush with the largest logs or branches on the bottom, lighter ones on top. If two big logs are available, lay them on the ground parallel to each other – this will provide adequate crawl spaces for the critters.

–        Stack the lighter branches on top until your brush pile is at least 4 feet high and 6 feet in diameter. The ideal brush pile dimension is 10 feet by 10 feet.   

–        If Christmas trees are used at the end of the season, push them together so that their boughs interlock as this will help reduce some of the natural spring in the branches. 

Site Selection

–        Edges of wooded areas adjacent to grasslands, croplands or wetlands that offer some shelter from prevailing winds are best.

–        Make sure that your prospective brush pile location isn’t going to be an unwelcome eyesore to homeowners or neighbors.   

Installation and Maintenance 

–        Three or four smaller brush piles are better than one huge pile. Distribute these through an area for maximum effectiveness to wildlife.

–        A crisp late fall or early winter afternoon is one of the best times to get some fresh air and construct a brush pile. It will then be ready as rugged mid-winter cover. It’s easy to check the success of your project. Following a new snowfall, tracks should be everywhere! See how many you and your kids can identify!


1 Comment so far
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Hey….How enjoyable to know my family is
taking part of the outdoors together. Enjoying
the quiet outdoors, wildlife and time spent
together. DaD is smiling. Thanks so much.
Just MoM..

Comment by Mother

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