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GardenSMART :: 5 Simple Steps for a Wildlife Friendly Backyard

5 Simple Steps for a Wildlife Friendly Backyard

By Margaret Collins, Wild Birds Unlimited
Photographs courtesy of Wild Birds Unlimited

The North American bird population has decreased by 2.9 billion breeding adults, a net loss of 29% over the last half-century.* Scientists have identified habitat loss as the biggest reason for the decline. Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shops encourage everyone to stop in and learn how they can create a bird and wildlife friendly habitat in their own backyard, on their porch or patio, or even on a grand estate. It's fun and easier than you might think!

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"We are proud to once again partner with the National Wildlife Federation and to champion the Certified Wildlife Habitat ® program," says Jim Carpenter, CEO and founder of Wild Birds Unlimited. "Together we can create change. It only takes five simple steps in your own space to create beneficial habitat for birds and wildlife. We are a local community resource to help you create a better place for birds and wildlife to live."

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5 Simple Steps

Provide one or more of the following elements to create a bird and wildlife friendly habitat. Once you are done, you can reward yourself with recognition from the National Wildlife Federation. Go online to learn more:


You can attract a greater number and variety of birds by offering a consistent, reliable supplemental food source in the form of bird feeders filled with quality foods and seed blends. Native plants that provide seeds, berries, nuts or nectar are also good food sources.


Water can attract as many birds to a yard or patio as a food source. Often you will attract birds that do not normally visit your bird feeders. A water feature can be as simple as a water dish, kept clean and refilled fresh each day.


Birds need protective cover for times of rest, social interaction and as a retreat from foul weather and predators. You may offer nest boxes, roosting boxes or even bat boxes for those mosquito-eating night fliers. Landscaping for the ideal wildlife habitat can include native plants ranging in size and density. A brush or rock pile can also provide cover.

A place to raise young

The same native plants that provide food and cover can provide safe areas for many species of wildlife to mate, build nests and raise their families. But with the increased loss of natural habitat, many cavity-nesting birds are having trouble finding homes. By providing birdhouses you will encourage birds to raise their young in your yard.

Sustainability practices

The idea of a flawless lawn may be a thing of the past. A few weeds and insects are a small price to pay for better health for birds, people and the environment. Pledge to take a few sustainable actions in your habitat such as avoiding pesticide and chemical use, or conserving water by mulching and using a soaker hose. Or consider controlling invasive and exotic plant species by replacing them with native plants.

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"Anyone, anywhere can restore wildlife habitat right in their own yards and communities," says NWF Naturalist David Mizejewski. "Whether you garden in a suburban yard, an urban area or a rural plot of land, you can make a difference for local wildlife. Creating a Certified Wildlife Habitat garden is fun, easy and makes a real difference for neighborhood wildlife. It's the perfect grassroots way to think globally and act locally and help birds, butterflies, bees and other wildlife."

Wild Birds Unlimited is the original and largest franchise system of backyard bird feeding and nature specialty stores with more than 330 locations throughout the United States and Canada. Wild Birds Unlimited specializes in bringing people and nature together with bird feeding and nature products, expert advice and educational events.



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