How to Create a Certified Backyard Habitat for Wildlife

by Sunny Weber, President


Most Metropolitan areas have exploded and neighborhoods are increasingly squeezed into shrinking acreage. Pavement dominates turf, and traffic cuts into natural animal movement more each year. There are several major migratory pathways for innumerous creatures, especially birds, across the United States. As our human species expands, other species lose access to resources sorely needed on long journeys across North America. Seasonal residents, as well as year-round inhabitants, find less primordial spaces.


But you can help! Turn your own little corner of the world into an oasis for wildlife with very little cost or effort. Since 1973 the National Wildlife Federation (NWF– has been educating human urban dwellers through their Garden for Wildlife program, helping people develop a daily connection to the natural world, right outside their doors. The NWF has recognized over 200,000 spaces representing 1.5 million acres as Certified Wildlife Habitats in suburban yards, schools, campuses, corporate properties, farms, parks and even the Subaru automobile manufacturing plant in Indiana!


What is involved? With small or large alterations, your yard can become a respite for more creatures than you might imagine. Creating a habitat is fun and it can be a wonderful family activity.  You can choose what species you want to help. Your wildlife garden should include:

1) Food: You can provide native plants provide nectar, seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, foliage, pollen and insects eaten by an exciting variety of wildlife. Feeders can supplement natural food sources.

2) Water: All animals need water to survive and some need it for bathing or breeding as well.

3) Cover: Wildlife needs places to find shelter from bad weather and places to hide from predators or stalk prey.

4) Places to Raise Young: All creatures need resources to reproduce and keep their species going.

How do you certify your yard? Go to the NWF’s website ( and click on the CERTIFY tab. The site will walk you through the application process. There is a handy checklist to guide you on the necessary resources. Once your yard is certified you will be able to display the NWF’s sign to show all in your neighborhood that you have pledged to help our fellow creatures and our world!

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