Backyard Habitat

Backyard wildlife habitats can reflect and enhance our connection with nature.  The National Audubon Society provides many useful guidelines for establishing a backyard habitat hospitable and conducive to supporting a wildlife population.  Some of the fundamental elements to be provided include:

  • a variety of feeders and foods
  • an assortment of bird houses and nest boxes
  • trees and shrubs for shelter and food
  • clean water for drinking and bathing
  • brush piles for protection

Other important measures to consider are prevention of bird window collisions and keeping cats indoors.

The choices of feeders, bird seeds, and other items can be bewildering.  Feeder options can include tube, hopper, tray, lantern style, suet cake, hummingbird feeders, and more.  Foods to provide may be sunflower seeds with or without hulls, thistle seed, mixed grains, and the natural berries growing on trees and shrubs.  The resources listed below can assist you in developing a hospitable environment for wildlife in your own backyard.

Feeders and Foods:

Bird Feeding Basics from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Bird House Plans and Nest Boxes:

Building a Basic Birdbox along with plans for decorative bird houses from CraftyBirds
Nest Boxes for Birds from the Washington Department of Wildlife

4_next_generation Trees and shrubs:

Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary from Washington Department of
In Your Backyard from Natural Resources Conservation Service

Plants for Birds from National Audubon Society

Using Native Plants to Preserve Birds and Protect Homes

grand_canyon_of_yellowstone Water Sources:

Supply Water for Wildlife from the National Wildlife Federation

shrub_steppe Brush Piles:

When pruning trees and bushes, leave a pile of branches for birds to seek shelter in. Also leave a few larger tree limbs as perches.
Wildlife Brush Piles from the National Wildlife Federation and creating brush piles Natural Resources Conservation Service

Protection from Windows:

Prevent Bird Window Collisions from American Bird Conservancy
Window Hazards from

Protection from Cats:

Cats Indoors program from American Bird Conservancy

trio YOUR Backyard Wildlife Habitat Experience:

Drop a note to us at with any ideas, comments, stories, and/or photos you would like to share about wildlife experiences in your small or large backyard habitat. What kinds of trees and shrubs seem to work best? What are the most useful bird feeders? What local sources do you use to purchase bird food?

For more information and ideas about creating a healthy backyard habitat, see the July-August 2013 issue of Audubon magazine “Creating a Bird-Friendly Yard“.