Many people don't think of a neighborhood or street being a habitat for wildlife, but they are. It doesn't matter if it's a farmyard in the country, or a city block -- there is always wildlife to be found, if you look.
Like in any habitat, organisms need food, shelter, water, and space. If your neighborhood offers these things in the right amounts, wildlife will show up. Or, it's already there, and you just need to notice it!
Below are some characteristics of neighborhood habitats:
One of the most importants needs of any animal or plant is water. Find the water in your neighborhood, and you should find some wildlife, as long as the water is relatively clean. Even heavily polluted water can support some organisms; although they not be the ones you were hoping for.
Flower or vegetable gardens are great places to look. Herbivores (plant-eaters) and pollinators (animals that visit flowers) are usually attracted to these places. Read more about gardens at the Flower Garden habitat page.
Trees, because of their size, provide the most of any plants. Birds, mammals, insects, and others use trees as shelter, food, and resting places.
Like trees, hedges made of shrubs provide great shelter for animals. Everything from birds to snakes to tiny insects makes good use of a hedge.
A lawn is basically a field that is managed by humans. By controlling the length of grass growing in your "field," you make a great place to play sports or host a barbecue. Did you know there is plenty of wildlife in your lawn besides grass? Non-grass plants, usually labeled "weeds" grow in between the grasses. Soil organisms, including earthworms, mites, and beetles move beneath the grass. These creatures attract predators, such as moles, snakes, and fireflies.
Besides gardens, lawns, trees, and hedges, there are other plants growing in your neighborhood. Usually, we call them "weeds," but they can surprise us with their beautiful flowers and impress us with their ability to grow just about anywhere. Cracks in sidewalks, ditches, and patches of dirt along a curb are all places you may find a tough little plant.
Does your neighborhood produce a lot of garbage? This "trash" is an all-you-can-eat buffet for many animals. People often get annoyed when animals make a mess of their garbage, but if they are careful to put trash in protected containers, this shoudln't be a big problem. Meanwhile, animals are cleaning up dropped pieces of food and other items that wouldn't get picked up otherwise. This helps keep your neighborhood healthier. Also, crows, vultures, opossums, and other carrion (dead animals) eaters clean up roadkills. Would you rather have that job?
You think of your home as being a shelter for you and your family, but did you know your home is also the home to many animals? Whether you intend it or not, animals are attracted to your home for the same reasons you are: comfortable temperature, food, a safe place to rest, etc. Whether it's spiders in the garage, bats in the attic, or a chipmunk under the woodpile, animals are going to make use of home and yard.