Bluebirds of San Diego County

Creating a Backyard Wildlife Habitat

Hummingbird by B.J. Stacey garden for wildlife sign

Gardening to Attract Wildlife

Making your garden attractive to wildlife that includes songbirds, hummingbirds, butterflies, toads, lizards, and other creatures is primarily a matter of providing shelter, water, and food. It's also important to avoid using pesticides. Try to emphasize native plants, since they're familiar to our local wildlife and adapted to our climate. Also remember that a garden teeming with wildlife is not overly tidy; parts of it are left to grow naturally to provide safe havens for all sorts of creatures.

National Wildlife Federation Garden for Wildlife Habitat Certification Requirements:

FOOD:
1. Provide seed and fruit bearing trees and shrubs.
2. Provide flowering plants that supply nectar and pollen for butterflies, beneficial insects, and hummingbirds.
3. Plant species whose foliage feed butterfly larvae.
4. Include a wide variety of plants. Native plants are a good choice as they not only feed and house wildlife, they also require little water and no soil amendments or fertilizer.
5. Locate bird feeders near trees so birds can fly to cover. Maintain them through the winter when natural foods are scarce.

WATER:
1. Must have at least one source.
2. Elevated bird bath, ground water dishes, pond, or fountain.
3. Must be kept clean and filled regularly.
4. Place in an open area to provide some protection from cats and other predators (10' from shrubs).

SHELTER- COVER AND PLACES TO NEST AND RAISE YOUNG:
1. Provide a complete plant community with tall trees, shrubs, hedgerows and ground cover.
2. Rock walls, logs or wood piles can also provide shelter.
3. Nesting boxes can be installed facing away from prevailing weather and away from bird feeders and other nesting boxes.

SUSTAINABLE GARDENING PRACTICES/ORGANIC METHODS:
1. Eliminate oil based chemical insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. They disrupt the natural food chain and kill beneficial insects.
2. Use compost and pasteurized manures instead of chemical fertilizers that are harmful to the necessary microorganisms in the soil.
3. Mulch around your plants to reduce watering and prevent weeds.
4. Try creating your own compost pile.

Habitat Certification

The Garden for Wildlife program is affiliated with the National Wildlife Federation. Its purpose is education about habitat restoration for wildlife survival. Certifying your yard as an official Wildlife Habitat site rewards you for the dedication you have shown to making a place for wildlife in your world. Once your habitat is certified, you will receive a personalized Certificate of Achievement recognizing your yard as part of the National Registry of Wildlife Habitat sites. You'll also receive a free, lifetime subscription to the quarterly Habitats newsletter and may purchase a weather-resistant yard sign.