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Creating a Backyard Wildlife Habitat: Attracting Birds, Bees, and Butterflies


Creating a wildlife habitat in your own backyard is a rewarding way to help local species while also beautifying your outdoor space. With a little planning, you can transform your yard into an inviting sanctuary for birds, pollinators, and other wildlife. This article covers the key steps for getting started.

Choosing the Right Location

When deciding where to create your habitat, consider these factors:

  • Sun exposure – Most wildlife prefer sunny spots, especially for planting.
  • Existing landscaping – Work with existing native trees, shrubs, etc.
  • Water sources – Add a birdbath, pond, or other water feature.
  • Shelter – Wildlife need places to nest, hide, and rest.

Ideally, choose a low-traffic area away from pets and kids. Even a small corner of your yard works!

Providing Food Sources

To attract wildlife, you need to provide food they’ll actually eat. Here are some top food sources to include in your habitat:


  • Native wildflowers and grasses – These provide nectar, seeds, berries, and foliage. Examples: coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, blazing stars, and switchgrass.
  • Fruit trees/shrubs – Plant things like cherry, crabapple, blueberry, raspberry, and serviceberry.
  • Vegetable gardens – Let wildlife nibble from your veggie plots.


  • Seed feeders for songbirds
  • Suet feeders for woodpeckers, chickadees
  • Hummingbird feeders with sugary nectar mixes
  • Oriole feeders with cut oranges, jelly, etc.

Water Sources

  • Bird baths – Add a water source like a pond, fountain, or bath. Change water daily.
  • Butterfly puddling spots – Create mud puddles for butterflies.

Providing Shelter

Wildlife need safe places to nest, rest, and hide from predators. Include a mix of:

  • Trees, shrubs, tall grasses -Dense foliage offers protection all year. Evergreens like pine and spruce are especially good shelters.
  • Brushes piles – Pile sticks and prunings for rabbit and bird nesting sites.
  • Bird houses – Put up houses suited for different species.
  • Host plants for caterpillars – Milkweed for monarchs, dill/parsley for swallowtails.
  • Rock piles/walls – Lizards and toads hide here.
  • Dead trees/snags – Leave standing dead trees to provide nesting cavities.
  • Water features – Ponds, fountains, baths give birds a place to drink and bathe.

Creating a Sustainable Environment

Here are some tips for keeping your habitat thriving naturally:

  • Choose native plants. They’re adapted to your climate and best support local wildlife.
  • Avoid chemical pesticides/herbicides. They’re harmful to pollinators and wildlife.
  • Provide year-round food and shelter. Support wildlife’s seasonal needs.
  • Natural mulches like wood chips help retain moisture and add nutrients as they decompose.
  • Rain barrels help conserve water for drier periods.
  • Let the habitat develop naturally. Resist the urge to over-manage things.

Enjoying Your Backyard Habitat

Here are some ways to get the most out of your new wildlife sanctuary:

  • Add seating like benches or hammocks for birdwatching and relaxing.
  • Keep binoculars and field guides handy for identifying new visitors.
  • Take pictures of the wildlife activity in your habitat.
  • Keep a journal to record what species you find.
  • Get kids involved through scavenger hunts, nature journals, etc.

With a little work, your backyard habitat can buzz with life and activity all year long. The effort provides its own rewards as you watch “your” birds, bunnies, and bugs thrive. So get started now on making your yard a nature lover’s paradise!