Category Archives: Our Bird Sanctuary

Serenity Prayer Wildlife Printables

I was inspired by a friend’s request to create a poster featuring the Serenity Prayer and one of my photographs from our wildlife habitat and bird sanctuary.   I thought it was a terrific idea, but I struggled to decide upon just one version.  There were too many photographs to choose from, and they were all my favorite.  So I made several versions and asked for feedback on our Facebook page.  That was no help because everyone had their favorite, too!  Lol.  So, I went ahead and made them all available as a downloadable/printable poster.

Click here to download the entire set of printable images, including the fox, flowers, butterfly, bird, woodpecker, and bunny.  Use your color printer to print your favorite.  Or, print them all!  Frame them, laminate them, share them, give them… and enjoy!  Consider this my gift to you for your support and encouragement of our efforts.



10 Things I Learned During the 2nd Year of our Wildlife Habitat and Bird Sanctuary

This month marks the two year anniversary of our Wildlife Habitat and Bird Sanctuary, and as I reminisce over the last twelve months, I marvel at all my husband and I have experienced with our new adventure.  And as I reviewed the list of things I learned during the first year, I felt compelled to write a list of the ten things I learned during year two.  After comparing the two lists, I believe that every year will bring new and insightful lessons, and I can’t wait to see what this next year has to offer!

Here’s what I learned in year TWO of our wildlife habitat and bird sanctuary:

  1. Keeping a video camera close at hand along with my digital SLR camera is really helpful, especially when a photo just won’t do the trick.
  2. When I’m crunched for time, providing fresh water is STILL always more important than providing food – for the birds and the wildlife.
  3. Baby birds will absolutely drown when the water in the birdbath is too deep, making rocks and pebbles a must in deep baths.
  4. The only way to respond to an outbreak of Avian Pox is to take and leave down all feeders and baths for 30 days, the length of time it takes for this deadly virus to run its course through a flock.
  5. Loss of life – birds and animals alike – is a natural requirement for sustaining the circle of life.
  6. When we offer a broad variety of wild bird food, we see a broad variety of birds at our feeders.
  7. Every wildlife visitation is special, because a particular visit may not happen again… for whatever reason.
  8. Keeping a Life List of the birds visiting our backyard helps us identify and record first time visitors more easily.
  9. Reading about and studying the birds in our backyard (their flight patterns, calls, and appearance) is helpful in identifying new species.
  10. Documenting the on-goings of our wildlife habitat for sharing with others is critical because there are people everywhere interested in what we are doing.

If you’re interested in seeing pictures and videos of our wildlife habitat and bird sanctuary, follow us on Facebook.  This is where we document the on-goings of our wildlife habitat for sharing with others.  And feel free to share about your own exciting adventures with the birds and wildlife!

Happy birding!

The Savage Reality of Survival – One Deer’s Legacy

Always on the lookout for new and exciting discoveries on our wildlife habitat and bird sanctuary, my husband and I recently took a stroll around the property.  Our neighbor had invited his artist friend to collect a dead dear off his property just a few days earlier, (a gorgeous 8 point buck that had died behind an abandoned trailer), and this news inspired us to also take a look around.

We were awe-struck with what we found, not to mention humbled, as our WILD life reminded us that LOSS of life is often required to sustain the CIRCLE of life.

We quietly and reverently observed the bones we found scattered inside and just beyond the outskirts of our property line: first we saw a leg, then a second leg, then the rib cage and head to what appeared to be a second deer – all picked perfectly clean.


As I took photographs, I celebrated the legacy this deer left behind and the sacrifice of it’s life for the prosperity of other wildlife.  And I became deeply aware of all our habitat signifies – not only the grace of Creation but also the savage reality of survival, and I marveled at the beauty of both.




10 Things I Learned During the First Year of our Wildlife Habitat and Bird Sanctuary

This month marks the one year anniversary of our Wildlife Habitat and Bird Sanctuary, and as I reminisce over the last twelve months, I’m reminded of how blessed we have been.  Common visitors to our bird sanctuary include chickadees, Steller’s jays, juncos, pine siskin, and house finches, while special appearances were made by a black-throated gray warbler and Williamson’s sapsucker.  We have several birdbaths and over a dozen bird feeders, AND we go through about 80 pounds of bird seed a month.

Getting to experience the birds and wildlife every day is a special treat but the real gift lies in the wisdom I’ve acquired in such a short time.  Nature has its music for those who will listen and I’ve done my share of listening.  Here’s what I’ve learned in the process:

  1. The date and time stamp on the trail cam matters in keeping good records.
  2. Birds will not set a limit on how much food I should provide them, so I have to.
  3. Indoor window clings are critical in avoiding aviary window strikes.
  4. When time or resources are limited, water is more important than food.
  5. Having a contact at the local US Fish and Wildlife Service is really helpful.
  6. Photographs are required to support a claim of wildlife or bird species.
  7. There will be injured, sick, or orphaned wildlife and knowing in advance what to do when I find them will reduce stress – for me and for the wildlife.
  8. Volunteering at a local wildlife rescue organization is an ideal hands-on learning experience.
  9. The traffic patterns in my habitat may not match the information in various field guides, and that’s okay.
  10. Knowing the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 will help keep me out of jail.

I should probably write a book about everything I’ve learned this past year, but for now this is my short list.  And if you’re interested in hearing the details around each of these ten learnings, check back here over the next several weeks. My goal is to elaborate on each and every one of these in greater detail.  In the meantime… happy birding!Special care ad

Celebrating the One Year Anniversary of our Wildlife Habitat!

One year ago this month, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), America’s largest wildlife conservation and education organization, recognized me and my husband for having successfully certified our Wildlife Habitat through its Garden for Wildlife program.  This month, we are celebrating the habitat’s one year anniversary! Woo hoo!

Truth is, we certified our mountainous habitat in response to the “Dog Head” fire that consumed nearly 18,000 acres in June of last year.  We had experienced a sudden influx of both birds and wildlife immediately after the fire and we wanted to do our part to create a safe haven for them.  In fact, in just this past year alone, we’ve had 32 different bird species come through our habitat, many of which have nested and are now raising young.

Common visitors to our bird sanctuary include chickadees, Steller’s jays, juncos, pine siskin, and house finches, while special appearances were made by a black-throated gray warbler and Williamson’s sapsucker. We provide for the wild birds with several birdbaths and over a dozen bird feeders. And we go through about 80 pounds of bird seed a month! But providing water is the most critical aspect of what we do (as you’ve heard me say before) because a bird will die from dehydration before it will die from starvation, especially during critical winter months or droughts when water is scarce.

Even wild mammals need water, as evidenced by several photographs I took this summer of a mule deer drinking water from our birdbath out back.  (That was terribly exciting to watch!) Other mammals frequenting our wildlife habitat include Abert’s and rock squirrels, brush and cottontail bunnies, coyotes, and a pair of wolves.

In the midst of the worldly drama around us, we’re grateful to have nature as a form of distraction.  The beauty and grace of our wildlife and birds delight us daily, reminding us of the splendor of God’s creation.  Thank you for celebrating this milestone with us, for your encouragement along the way, and for your support of our efforts.

Meet Bird Whisperer and Communications Expert, Kristen Clark

Do you bring your whole self to work? What passion and personal experience do you bring to work and how does that fuel your ability to create and innovate on the job? If you were asked to write an essay in response to these questions and reflect deeply about who you are and how that contributes to what you do at work, what would you write?

I took the opportunity to write and submit the essay below for my company. This is my response to the questions above.   My essay reads:

“My adventure as a backyard birder stems from taking my first photography class as a little girl in summer school. It was then I learned how to develop my own black and white pictures and I took to the craft like a duck takes to water, shooting family and sporting events at every opportunity. Many birthdays later, I received my first “real” camera from my father, and that’s when my passion for photographing nature really took flight.

Over the last several years I’ve enjoyed using a Nikon D3000 Digital SLR and 300mm zoom lens to photograph and study my backyard birds. In fact, last year my husband and I certified our property as a wildlife habitat and bird sanctuary so I could do more of that. I maintain over 20 different bird feeders and we purchase more than 80lbs of bird seed each month. I take hundreds of bird pictures each week and adding a new species to my life list gives me goose bumps. Yes, I talk to the birds.

One thing I love about watching birds is watching bird communication. Birds communicate using a variety of sounds, including singing, calls, squawks, gurgles, trills, rattles, clicks, whistles, and other combinations of vibration. Some make non-vocal sounds by beating the air with their wings and producing a loud drumming noise. Others communicate with visual displays, combining dramatic behaviors with the ruffling of feathers. And, whether scaring off predators, warning about danger, defending one’s territory, or attracting a mate, nothing birds communicate is without purpose.

People also communicate using a variety of sounds and visual displays or behaviors, and one thing I’ve learned from my backyard birds is the need to communicate with purpose. Context, accurate information, choice points, and feedback needn’t be as scarce as hen’s teeth and I can avoid ruffling feathers by choosing my words and tone carefully. This rings especially true in my role as an executive communication lead, where messaging, intention, and design can have either a positive or negative impact on my colleagues and the business.

I’m grateful to have served my company over the last 20 years in various roles, and I enjoy most my role today as a communication expert for my organization. I’m also grateful for my backyard birds and how they’ve inspired me toward new levels of excellence in how I communicate, either face-to-face, in writing, in presentations, or in meetings. Today I strive to communicate in a way that enables my flock toward greater success because when the flock wins, I win. And winning makes me, well, happy as a lark.”

How would your essay read?

Local Businesses Rally around Wildlife Habitat to Save the Birds, Tijeras, New Mexico

Tijeras, New Mexico – November 4, 2016 – Local businesses in the Greater Albuquerque Area are rallying around Tijeras resident Kristen Clark in her effort to save the birds that were displaced from the “Dog Head” fire in June. Businesses are showing their support by hosting Clark at their locations for a book signing of her new book, Favorite Birds of New Mexico.

Community members in the Greater Albuquerque area are invited to visit with the author at various locations throughout November and December. Patrons can expect to hear her experiences of:

  • Certifying two backyards as wildlife habitats, and how you can too
  • Discovering why it’s important to provide extra food/water sources through the winter
  • Understanding the impact of the Dog Head fire on displaced birds and why birds need our assistance.

She’ll be available to sign copies of her new book, Favorite Birds of New Mexico, featuring over 20 bird species present in the Manzano mountain range, along with full-color photographs and educational descriptions of the birds unique to this mountainous habitat. Book sales are helping support her 2.5 acre certified wildlife habitat in an effort to provide a safe haven for migratory and displaced birds.

“We’ve had an influx of birds, some the result of normal paths of migration and many that have been displaced by the Dog Head fire. I was deeply inspired to photograph those birds and share them with others in this educational picture book,” said Clark, author of five other books about birds and backyard birding, including The Special Care & Feeding of Backyard Birds and Santa’s Little Messenger Birds.

Clark adds, “And I’m just thrilled with the local support I’m receiving in this effort, thanks to the Mountain View Telegraph and Albuquerque Journal who picked up my story in early October.”

Kristen and her husband are raising $10,500 dollars to stock their certified wildlife habitat with much needed food and water sources for the impacted birds. Interested parties can show their support by joining her at the following locations in the coming weeks:

  • Saturday, Nov 12, 11am to 1pm at Western Mercantile in Tijeras
  • Saturday, Nov 12, 6pm at Old Tyme Shop & Ice Cream Parlor in Tijeras
  • Saturday, Nov 19, 1pm at Estancia Public Library in Estancia
  • Saturday, Dec 10, 11am to 1pm at Rehm’s Nursery in Albuquerque

Clark says, “Raising money for this bird sanctuary is one way I can give back to the environment. Others are showing their desire to give back, too, through their support. And, I couldn’t be more delighted.”

About the Author

Kristen Clark is a fan of all things beautiful, with a special love for birds. The author of several bird books, including THE SPECIAL CARE & FEEDING OF BACKYARD BIRDS, she founded Backyard Birding Paradise to educate others on the benefits and value of bird-watching.

To LEARN MORE or to DONATE, please visit:


 Contact:  Kristen Clark

Tijeras, NM





National Wildlife Federation Certifies New Wildlife Habitat in Tijeras, New Mexico

555937_4398759251830_1009391537_nTijeras, New Mexico – September 12, 2016 – The National Wildlife Federation (NWF), America’s largest wildlife conservation and education organization, is pleased to recognize that Lawrence and Kristen Clark in Tijeras have successfully created a Certified Wildlife Habitat through its Garden for Wildlife program. NWF celebrates the efforts of Lawrence and Kristen to create a 2.5 acre garden that improves habitat for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife by providing essential elements needed by all wildlife – natural food sources, clean water, cover, and places to raise young.

“We are so excite to have another passionate wildlife gardener join us and create a Certified Wildlife Habitat. Over the last 40 years, nearly 200,000 wildlife gardeners have joined NWF’s Garden for Wildlife movement and helped restore wildlife habitat right in their own yards and neighborhoods,” said David Mizejewski, naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation.  “Whether you garden in a suburban yard, an apartment balcony or a 10-acre farm, a schoolyard, or business, park, or anything in between, everyone can create a home for local wildlife.  Turning your space into a Certified Wildlife Habitat is fun, easy, and makes a big difference for neighborhood wildlife,” he added.

The Clarks certified their 2.5 acre mountainous habitat in response to the “Dog Head” fire in June. “My heart ached for the resulting loss, nearly 18,000 acres of beautiful forest and wildlife,” Kristen shared.  “But I was also grateful. Our home and belongings were spared and we now have ample opportunity to provide food, water, and habitat to many displaced and stressed birds.” She went on to explain, “And the birds need our help. Research indicates that it will take some 100 years, if not more, before a forest will return to normal conditions after a fire. Unfortunately, not all of the birds can wait that long.”

Kristen is raising $10,500 dollars to stock their certified wildlife habitat and provide the special care and feeding of the impacted birds. This the result of a definite surge in both population and species after the fire, but also because national forests aren’t staffed to provide adequate food or water for birds, especially during critical winter months or droughts when food and water are scarce.  Additionally, every certified habitat is a step toward replenishing resources for wildlife, both locally and along migratory corridors.

About National Wildlife Federation

The NWF’s Garden for Wildlife program encourages responsible gardening for people like the Clarks. It encourages planting with native species like milkweed and discouraging chemical pesticide use.  With nearly 200,000 locations and growing, NWF’s Certified Wildlife Habitats and Community Wildlife Habitats recognize individuals, schools, groups and whole communities committed to providing habitat for wildlife, including pollinators.  For more information on gardening for wildlife and details on how an entire community can become certified, visit or call 1-800-822-9919.


Lacey McCormick

National Wildlife Federation



About Backyard Birding Paradise

Kristen Clark is a fan of all things beautiful, with a special love for birds. The author of several bird books, including The Special Care & Feeding of Backyard Birds, she founded Backyard Birding Paradise to educate others on the benefits and value of bird-watching.


To LEARN MORE or to DONATE, please visit:


Contact:  Kristen Clark

Tijeras, NM


Woo Hoo! We Just Certified Our Wildlife Habitat!

One of my commitments from my fundraising campaign was to certify my property as a wildlife habitat so I could more easily provide for the displaced birds that fled the 18,000 acres of national forest consumed by Dog Head Fire in June. And while I half expected this to be a daunting task, it was much easier than I expected. It was also a terrific educational experience in that I learned much more about what birds need in order to survive.

We certified our place through the National Wildlife Federation.  At first I was doubtful that we’d get certified. But after reviewing the requirements and doing a little homework, I was encouraged. More importantly, going through the application process solidified my commitment to the wildlife and birds visiting our property. And here’s what I learned was needed for certification approval.

FOOD SOURCES: Need 3 of the following types of plants or supplemental feeders. I got lucky here because Juniper trees are abundant on our property, which are a great source of berries. We also have tons of foliage and twigs, and nuts in the form of acorns. And, we have suet and bird feeders, along with a few hummingbird feeders, that I fill regularly.

  • Seeds from a plant
  • Berries
  • Nectar
  • Foliage/Twigs
  • Nuts
  • Fruits
  • Sap
  • Pollen
  • Suet
  • Bird Feeder
  • Hummingbird Feeder


WATER SOURCES: Need 1 of the following sources to provide clean water for wildlife to drink and bathe. For this requirement we invested in a birdbath and a solar pump, which I fill and clean regularly. And our bird bath is visited all day long in the absence of other water sources, this the result of our location. But, it works and it meets the requirement. AWESOME!

  • Birdbath
  • Lake
  • Stream
  • Seasonal Pool
  • Ocean
  • Water Garden/Pond
  • River
  • Rain Garden
  • Spring


PROTECTIVE COVER: Need at least 2 places to find shelter from the weather and predators. Our property is a naturally wooded area and heavily populated with evergreens, dense shrubs, and various brush and log piles, so this was an easy provision. We didn’t need to add anything for protective cover.

  • Wooded Area
  • Bramble Patch
  • Ground Cover
  • Rock Pile or Wall
  • Cave
  • Roosting Box
  • Dense Shrubs or Thicket
  • Evergreens
  • Brush or Log Pile
  • Burrow
  • Meadow or Prairie


RAISING OF YOUNG: Need at least 2 places for wildlife to engage in courtship behavior, mate, and then bear and raise their young. Our property is also abundant in mature and dead trees, along with dense shrubs. In fact, I currently have the pleasure of watching a family of Chipping Sparrows and Canyon Towhees gather off our back porch regularly throughout the day, and boy are they a noisy bunch! Lol.

  • Mature Trees
  • Meadow or Prairie
  • Nesting Box
  • Wetland
  • Cave
  • Host Plants for Caterpillars
  • Dead Trees or Snags
  • Dense Shrubs or a Thicket
  • Water Garden or Pond
  • Burrow


SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES: Should be doing 2 things to help manage your habitat in a sustainable way. The Soil and Water Conservation requirement worried me at first, until my husband pointed out that we already limit water use and reduce erosion with the natural groundcover on our property. Additionally, we’re agreed to find a solution for capturing rain water from the roof; this because he also wants to set up a greenhouse to grow vegetables for his Mountain Man Gourmet recipes.  The other requirements were easy to satisfy because of our natural habitat (making it easy to control exotic species) and existing organic practices.

  • Soil and Water Conservation:
    • Riparian Buffer
    • Capture Rain Water from Roof
    • Xeriscape (water-wise landscaping)
    • Drip or Soaker Hose for Irrigation
    • Limit Water Use
    • Reduce Erosion (i.e. ground cover, terraces)
    • Use Mulch
    • Rain Garden


  • Controlling Exotic Species:
    • Practice Integrated Pest Management
    • Remove Non-Native Plants and Animals
    • Use Native Plants
    • Reduce Lawn Areas


  • Organic Practices:
    • Eliminate Chemical Pesticides
    • Eliminate Chemical Fertilizers
    • Compost


Certifying my habitat has been a fantastic educational adventure, and I’m inspired to do so much more. Now that my certification sign has been ordered and is on its way, my next step is to purchase a few platform feeders for the larger birds, including the ravens and crows.  Stay tuned for that update!


Vista Print image

New Mexico Bird Lover Raising $10,500 to provide for Migratory and Displaced Birds

It’s amazing to me what people can raise money for today and I think I’ve seen it all, including home repairs, college education, braces, even child adoption fees. What a fantastic world we live in that monies can be so easily raised, thanks to the Internet and various fund-raising web sites.

So, I’m taking the plunge! Yep, I started my own fund-raising campaign. Crazy? Maybe, but I’m committed to the cause. I believe the environment matters.

HERE’S THE PROBLEM: We’ve had an influx of birds recently due to normal migration paths and also displaced birds from Dog Head Fire. Nearly 18,000 acres of beautiful forest and wildlife in East Mountain were consumed by the fire, raising the need for more food, more water, and more protection for the birds. In fact, after the flames of the fire died down, birds arrived to nearby areas in droves. We are also experiencing an influx of birds at our place.

We are located in the Manzano mountain range in the central part of New Mexico, known as the Land of Enchantment and home to the western branch of the Salt Missions Trail, formerly called Turquois Trail.  With a harmonious blend of over 270 bird species reported in the area, many are unique to mountainous habitats, including aspen ponderosa pine, high elevation willow, spruce, fir and alpine tundra.  Yes, East Mountain is a tribute to quiet excitement and adventure, and caters to a specific set of birds.

HERE’S MY SOLUTION: As a lover of all things beautiful – especially birds – I am sensitive to the balance of nature and my heart’s desire is to certify our 2.5 acres as a wildlife habitat and provide the special care and feeding of birds.  This the result of a definite surge in both population and species.   But also because national forests don’t provide adequate food or water for birds, especially during critical winter months or droughts when food and water are scarce.  Also, every certified habitat is a step toward replenishing resources for wildlife, both locally and along migratory corridors.

WHY BIRDS?  We admire birds for their beauty and songs, and the grace of their ability to fly.  We also admire their importance to the ecosystem. Yes! Birds provide many direct and indirect contributions to the environment.  For example:

  • Many ecologically important plants require pollination by birds
  • Many species of conifers are spread largely by birds
  • Fruit-eating birds aid the germination and spread of hundreds of plants and trees
  • Hawks and owls are great consumers of pests such as rodents
  • Flycatchers and their allies consume tons of insects each year

Birds are also excellent indicators of environmental health as changes in bird populations can tell us a great deal about the impacts of climate, drought, weather, and habitat change on the environment.

This explains why, according to a recent Census Report, over 65 million Americans enjoy feeding birds in their own backyard as a convenient way to appreciate and study nature.  AND… watching birds, like watching fish or other animals, seems to make people feel good – emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

HERE’S MY PLAN: Raise $10,500 to invest in the following:

  • Wildlife Certification Application
  • 12 Bird Houses
  • 10 Shepherd’s Hooks
  • 10 Hanging Bird Feeders (Various Kinds)
  • 5 Platform Feeders
  • 5 Solar Bird Baths
  • Bird Food (Seed, Suet, Thistle, Peanuts)
  • 1 Observation Tower
  • Advertising Costs to Raise Money

Raising this kind of money is a significant undertaking, but I believe it’s doable. And while some may think my gesture nervy and self-seeking, I know others will see this as a courageous effort and jump on my bandwagon to help the birds.  I hope “others” includes you!

For more information about this effort, including my tokens of appreciation for various donation levels, PLEASE CLICK HERE. You’ll be redirected to my donation page.

My goal is to protect the magic and beauty of our fine feathered friends in the hope that someday others, perhaps you, will have the chance to visit our mountain personally, experience the breathtaking views this enchanted landscape has to offer, and discover the magic of our treasured birds. My uncompromising commitment is to help protect and secure the environment for future generations. I hope you will join me in this critical effort!  This is one way we can be kind and give back to Nature.

Kristen –