Creating a Backyard Wildlife Refuge

| 10/21/2009 4:58:19 PM

Tags: Birdwatching, Backyard Wildlife Refuge, National Wildlife Federation,

A photo of Vickie MorganGardening season is over in Michigan – all the produce is out of the vegetable garden and herb garden is winding down. Which is good because, October first greeted us with our first hard frost. It's kind of a let down this transition from working at break neck speed in the garden, to a slower time of year. Oh I love fall, with its beautiful leaves and cooler weather, but it hit me a little more this year, what's a gardner to do when winter sets in?

One morning I was up early trying to fix my sewing machine (without much success), when I noticed how quiet everything was and wondered when time birds wake up. Then it dawned on me, birds! Why not watch and take pictures of birds that come to my backyard.

I found through research one way to attract more birds to your backyard it to make it into a backyard wildlife refuge. The National Wildlife Federation offers a list of requirements in order to be recognized as a certified backyard refuge. I already had many things that were listed and the ones I lack are inexpensive to obtain.

The lists includes:

  • What food you have for the birds or wildlife? It can be a mixture of natural vegetation or feeders
  • Water supply – including ponds, lakes, birdbaths etc.
  • Cover for wildlife – like shrubs, brush piles
  • A place for wildlife to raise their young – like nesting boxes, plants that moths or butterfly's can lay their eggs in. etc.
  • Let your garden grow green – by going green you can conserve natural resources and by planting native plants you stop using as much fertilizer.

I do have a bird house – I see evidence that birds have used it, but they haven't stayed too long. I think it sits too close to the house (the other side of the post has our house number) and they probably don't like the activity. So I'll be looking for more birdhouses in the future.

Log cabin bird house.

We already have many trees with fruit and bushes for wildlife to find shelter, but I think it would be neat to have a butterfly bush, so I'll be staking out a place in our backyard to plant one next spring.

10/31/2009 10:41:01 PM

Shannon, It really does keep you busy when there is nothing to garden and they are a joy to watch. vickie

s.m.r. saia
10/31/2009 6:28:55 AM

How cool! This would be a fun winter project!

10/22/2009 9:37:47 AM

Cindy, I can't imagine how windy it must get there. We too have a lot of wind probably not as much as you though -we tried cementing the bird feeder in the ground but it too is sideways! I'm still trying to get a real good picture of a bird -taking pictures of wildlife is definetly a challenge. vickie

cindy murphy
10/22/2009 7:16:16 AM

Hi, Vickie. I love to watch the birds in my yard - it's one of my morning rituals, actually, to take my cup of coffee outside and watch them at the feeder from my front porch. Although the feeder is busy spring, summer, and fall with many different species, seeing them at the feeder in winter has always been a rare treat. The wind off Lake Michigan is the problem - it whips through the yard with such ferocity, the feeder is usually blowing sideways! I added another feeder this year though, and believe I may have found a place that's less windy. I hope so; I'll just have to wait and see. Although they don't often visit the feeder in winter, the yard is not completely devoid of birds when the wind blows and the snow flies. There are shrubs I've planted specifically for "emergency" winter food - bushes that provide berries that they'll leave alone in fall in favor of better tasting ones, but will devour in winter when food is more scarce. Good luck in your picture taking!

mother earth news fair


Feb. 17-18, 2018
Belton, Texas

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!