Tag Archives: certified wildlife habitat

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!

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.

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!


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