Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How Wild Is Your Habitat?

Betcha it's wilder than you think!
Yesterday you saw the sign we put in our yard after getting certified as a wildlife habitat. 

Today I'll share about how easy it is, and how to get your own certification. I'll tell you a little about the requirements and give you the link to get started

What a Certified Wildlife Habitat is not:

It's not an especially large yard.  It could be, but it doesn't have to be.
It's not a yard that attracts strange or exotic wildlife. Actually, the idea is to support the local and native wildlife by providing the setting for them to do what comes naturally.
It's not a process that means strangers will judge your yard, granting or withholding their approval.  Nobody has to know if you didn't get the grass mowed this week! Certification is on the honor system. You fill out the application and send it in. You can tell when you fill it out whether you meet the requirements or not. If not, just add the missing element(s) and you are good to go. You may wonder if people can cheat. I guess...But why would they?

How do you get with the program?
Getting certified is really simple, especially if you already do things like feed birds or plant native bushes.

Begin by visiting the National Wildlife Federation's website. Create an account (free) and you'll be directed to the application.
You will be asked about certain elements of your yard. While I'll just show a few examples from our yard, there are lots and lots of ways to fulfill the requirements.

You need 3 food sources. They can be natural, like fruits, berries, seeds, etc., or supplemental, like suit and birdseed feeders.

Peek-a-boo, I see you Mr. Cardinal!

Coneflowers produce little black seeds the goldfinches love.

Our apple tree has apples every year. Somebody is eating them - it's not us.
You need one water source. It can be a birdbath, pond, rain garden, stream, or many other options.

You need 3 places for animals to find cover and raise young. Birdhouses, mature trees, caves, host plants for caterpillars, and many others satisfy this element.

I wanted so badly to get this shot with one of the chickadees who raise their babies in this house! But I was too late - apparently the chicks fledged sometime late yesterday or early today. (We figured they were almost ready by how noisy they were and by how frantically the parents flew in and out with insects. They are fiercely protective parents - one of them ran a pair of robins out of a nearby tree and chased them clear down the block!)*
Swamp milkweeds are the food for monarch butterfly caterpillars.

That's it! Send the application with the fee ($20), and wait to hear that your yard is approved! There are a variety of nice signs you can  purchase for display, or you can download, print, and display your certificate. 

If you decide to certify your yard, I'd love to see some of your pictures and hear about your wildlife habitat.

*One of the chickadee parents chattered angrily about 3 feet above my head this weekend. It thought I was weeding too close to its nest. It was about the size of my thumb, but it was ready to go ten rounds.


  1. That is a great idea and quite a good comprehensive list of things you need to have. You garden looks lovely. What a pity you missed the chicks. Have a wonderful Wednesday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. you have a great garden,xx Speedy


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