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How to Transform your Yard

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Why Bird-friendly Yards?

Birds, and beauty, contribute to your quality of life and that of your family. And yards that attract birds contribute to wildlife conservation. We cannot protect birds and other living things only through protecting forests, wildernesses, grasslands and deserts. We also need to provide for them in the places where we live and work. Birds need food, water, shelter and nesting opportunities. While birds are the focus, there are many things a Habitat at Home yard does:

  • Attracts beautiful and interest birds to your yard
  • Creates naturalistic bird habitat—places with the kinds of resources birds find in nature
  • Reduces threats to birds
  • Conserves potable water in our environment by shifting some irrigation to rain and gray water
  • Supports pollinators
  • Makes shade to cool our homes and our city, reducing energy costs
  • Creates fun, educational environments for kids
  • Supports overall biodiversity, that is, the wide variety of living things in the natural world
  • Makes a beautiful environment to live in and contributes to neighborhood beautification

What Makes a Bird-friendly Yard?

Read through the materials below for a comprehensive overview of what goes into safe, sustainable yards for birds and other creatures!

Native Plant “Naturescape”

Native plant “naturescapes” are areas of your yard with all or mostly native plants. The native plants are denser and more diverse (have more species) than most yards. They also create more “habitat structure”—that is, they have plants that are low, medium, high, thorny, not thorny, etc. Naturescapes rely more heavily on organic mulch and/or leaf litter and less on rock mulch.

Read more:

  • What is a native plant naturescape? [links to naturescape PDF]
  • List of recommended native plants [links to native plant list PDF]

Invasive Plant Control

Bird-friendly yards get rid of the non-native, invasive plants that escape into nature and replace the native vegetation that is best for birds. Read more and learn to identify some common invasive plants. [links to invasives PDF]

Rainwater and Gray Water

Incorporating rainwater harvesting and gray water use into our landscapes means we can conserve scarce, expensive potable water and use it only as a backup source for irrigation. Read more [link to rainwater/graywater PDF].

Reducing Threats to Birds

What good does it do to create habitat only to have birds eaten by cats, run into windows, be poisoned by pesticides or be confused during migration by bright lights? We can address these threats. Read more.

  • Keep cats indoors (or in a “catio”) [link to catio PDF]
  • Reduce birds striking windows [link to windows PDF]
  • Other measures (pipes…) [Link to “other threats” PDF]

Reducing or Eliminating Pesticides

Pesticides often introduce toxins into the food chain, killing birds and other animals needlessly. Read more [link to pesticides PDF]

Wildlife Stewardship

There are several additional things we can do to make our yards better for birds. Read more:

  • Nest boxes [link to nest box pdf]
  • Water sources [link to water sources for birds PDF]
  • Places for native solitary bees to nest (wood and ground)
  • Other wildlife stewardship meastures (Brush piles, etc.) [link to other measures PDF]

Other Things that You Can Do: Education and Citizen Science

In the process of making bird-friendly yards we can all learn and contribute! Read more. [link to education/cit-sci PDF]

Volunteer to Help the Habitat at Home Program

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Tucson Audubon Society

300 E University Blvd. #120
Tucson, AZ 85705

Mason Center
3835 W Hardy Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85742

Paton Center for Hummingbirds
477 Pennsylvania Ave.
Patagonia, AZ 85624