Apply for Habitat Recognition

Our backyards, schoolyards and business landscaping are our own private little pieces of nature and can provide a measure of serenity. To be able to sit in a shaded area and watch and listen to the birds that you've attracted is a great experience. Maybe you can hear water running from a waterfall or fountain. Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, the birds love it too.

So how do we get to that kind of backyard? Go native. Think about providing food, shelter and water to birds by using native landscape plants. The first thing is to eliminate or minimize the grass in your yard. Green grassy lawns are not native to the desert. They can take a lot of water and maintenance. Even if you are can't bring yourself to completely eliminate grass, you can minimize it and still plant native flowers, shrubs and trees. You can have plants in bloom in your yard year-round in our climate.

• Chuparosa will grow to a good size, blooms year-round and attracts hummingbirds as well as any feeder would. It will become thick and tangled, which provides shelter for other birds. Aberts Towhees and Lesser Goldfinch will dive into the bush for protection in an instant.
• Palo Verde trees have a beautiful spring bloom and provide shade, shelter and great nesting areas for birds. You can count on attracting Verdin to your yard with Palo Verde.
• Saguaro is a cactus valued by cavity-nesting birds like Gila Woodpeckers, Peach-faced Lovebirds and Screech Owls. Doves will build nests in the Vs created by the arms. When they bloom, their flowers produce have sticky, sweet nectar that not only attracts birds, it attracts insects, which in turn attract birds.

Not only do the native plants provide shade, shelter and food for birds, but they survive on much less water than non-native plants. Water is a precious resource in the desert. The less we use in our habitats, the more water is available for our riparian areas, streams and rivers.

If you wish, you can supplement the food for birds by feeding them nectar, seed, fruit and suet. A wide variety of bird foods and feeding supplies are available at Wild Birds Unlimited. Remember to always keep your feeders clean. The last thing that you want to do is have your feeder become a breeding ground for disease. Change the nectar in your hummingbird feeders at least twice a week and make sure that you clean them completely.

The last thing and probably the most important thing that you can provide for birds in our climate is a water source. Of course, we still want to conserve water. A re-circulating water feature, such as a fountain or waterfall is perfect. If that is too involved or expensive, you can buy or build a "drip system." A little bit of water that falls from a short height to a basin below works wonderfully. Birds are attracted to dripping sound. You can also use a bird bath. Please make sure that you clean and fill it regularly. You don't want it to become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. You can buy a device at Wild Birds Unlimited that will keep the water circulating and eliminate mosquito larvae. Wild Birds Unlimited also has a "drip system' for sale.

Now that you have provided shelter, food and water for the birds, we want you to be recognized for your efforts. Fill out the application below. If you qualify, you may donate online to receive a certificate to pick up your sign at the Wild Birds Unlimited, or any birdwalk or meeting of Desert Rivers Audubon. Then just sit back and enjoy the sounds and sights of birds and blooms in your habitat. And know that you are doing your part to preserve the wildlife in our beautiful deserts.

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• You can register your habitat whether it's a backyard, schoolyard, park or business habitat.

• Learn more about healthy desert habitats. Starting in fall, 2010, you can sign up for Landscaping to Attract Birds class at the Environmental Education Center at Veteran's Oasis Park, in Chandler.

• Become part of a network of those who care about Arizona's native plants and wildlife.

• If you meet the qualifications for healthy habitat, for a donation of $25 or more we will award you an attractive 8 X 10 metal sign recognizing your efforts.

1. Click here to see if your habitat qualifies and submit your donation.

2. Once your request has been approved, you can pick up your sign at Wild Birds Unlimited at Baseline and Gilbert Rd and receive a free gift. You can also pick up your sign at any Desert Rivers birdwalk or meeting.


Example Sign