Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary

Our backyard has been neglected over the last couple years, mostly because we didn't have a vision and purpose. Over the spring we have started imagining our backyard as a wildlife sanctuary, and this summer my husband and I are taking steps to start building its foundation.

We are kicking it off with our new squirrel buster wild bird feeder and birdbath. Next I want to make our backyard more homey for squirrels so they remain an integral part of the crew. This short video shows one of my backyard friends feeding from a bowl of sunflower seeds I set out for him and his rascally buddies.

One of the reasons I haven't been incredibly drawn to gardening in the past is that I wasn't deeply connected to the outcome. My spirit couldn't grab a foothold on why I would be doing it. Then the other day when I realized I could be building a friendly habitat for animals, raising veggies and flowers that they would enjoy nibbling on, the switch went off in my head. My yard could be of service to creatures! It sounds so silly, but until I am able to understand the connection of my labor to the world around me, I won't invest my heart into the process.

Do you have any favorite ways of drawing animals into your backyard, providing extra food, water, and shelter? I'd love to hear from some of your experiences as I start to learn how to foster my backyard habitat.


  1. backyard wildlife habitat is a fabulous program. in the 70's people the idea that if every yard developed the very back strip of their yards into wildlife friendly areas all the yards would connect to make a larger green space for wildlife.
    i have a little 20'x25" area in an odd cut off side yard that's been allowed to get pretty wild with evergreen wisteria for protection, placed feeders and birdbath, planted sunflowers and other seeding plants as well..
    we now have a colony of redbirds,from the original parents who nested in the birds yard years ago.

  2. oh no, your video won't play!...as u know i am having my backyard redone.. my friend is putting in plants/shrubs that attract hummers, butterflies.. also i've put up various bird feeders in the trees.. i use to have an annoying squirrel that would tip over the feeders but he is long gone... i must admit, i squirted him w/the hose ..or i would spray the hose in his direction..if u want to ward off squirrels- plant society garlic and marigolds, that does work believe me... have u hung wind chimes? i've noticed that Mr. Squirrel has stayed away since I've put up alot of chimes... btw any shrub that puts out tubular flowers will attract hummers, bees... the birds know me and the sound of the feedbag being brought out... i've got baby robins flying around...

  3. Cute! A couple of years ago, we had some baby squirrels whose mother probably was hit by a car, and they fell out of their tree nest. We (I!) stayed up with them all night and took them to a wildlife rescue center. I really learned a lot about squirrels that summer. Very interesting creatures, for sure. A lot of people don't like them, but I really have a lot of respect for them and their connection to each other!

  4. I like to try to hide little bird houses in my trees and make them blend into the environment to keep the birds safe. I have a bird bath and a pond and lots of flowers that would invite butterflies. My backyard is full of trees, so I have lots of little creatures living there. Our newest visitor is a Cedar Waxwing!! Soooo pretty :)

  5. Fantastic idea! I could watch squirrels all day. They play constantly and make me jealous if their fun lives! I love to feed the birds in the winter since it is difficult for them to find food. There are many cardinals in my area which are gorgeous against the white snow.

  6. Well, since we built our home smack in the middle of a plot of farm land, our yard is somewhat hostile to animals, as there is no coverage for them, and minimal shade. But my father in law keeps a drip system going for his beloved birds, even in the winter, and large, elaborate homemade bird feeders.

    I'll be interested to see how your sanctuary evolves over time.

  7. I love squirrels,we dont have enough trees for them to hang around. We have two mallards who come every spring and hang out in one of our horse paddocks that floods a bit. Three deer hang out in our back fields, all though I admit I have a scarecrow in my veggie garden to keep them out. My favorite is the swallows. We have 6 barn swallow nests and two standard swallow nests right now. I love them, I think they must be my spirit animal, every night at feeding time for the horses I stop and watch them flit about.

  8. Spirited Earth, how lucky to have a family of redbirds! I'd love to plant some sunflowers, what a great idea. Thanks for the inspiration :)

    Chrissy, I love that your birds know you by sound! Next year I hope to get a hummingbird feeder because that would be too cool. I will definitely have to add a few plants next year for these beauties. I miss seeing them!

    Sue, you're my new squirrel hero! Thank you for saving this beautiful creature. I'm completely drawn to their personalities, movements, and shape of their bodies.

    Marie, what fun to have a Cedar Waxwing as a new visitor! I love your idea of blending in the bird houses in the tree to keep them safe. The idea for a pond is intriguing...must do more research! Thank you for sharing your backyard with me :)

    Val, I just dig that you see the same thing in squirrels that I do! Before you said that I hadn't realized my own envy over their constant play :)

    Alice, what a cool solution your father-in-law has come up with to attract the birds. They sound well loved!

    Nicole, how lucky to see some mallards in the spring. I just love how ducks make due in the strangest places. How cool that you have all these swallows. It must be lovely to see them fly around together. There is something so magical about birds in concert together and their wings all beating at the same time. Thanks for the beautiful inspiration!


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