Thursday, June 2, 2016

How Is Your Habitat at Home?

Provide resources for birds in your own yard using our new program
By Sara Pike and Kendall Kroesen

When you look out your window and into your yard, it is pleasing to look at something green or colorful. Whether a balcony or a big yard, it is nice to see a bit of nature and remind ourselves there is a big, beautiful life out there. A plant, tree, or pot of flowers can brighten a view and offer a respite from the daily grind. If there happens to be a bird or butterfly on that plant, tree or pot of flowers, well this might just ignite some awe in the world of animals and the natural beauty of nature.

If one drives around the perimeter of Tucson, all the new developments becomes very obvious. New neighborhoods and shopping centers are popping up further and further out. And, while humans take up more and more space for homes and amenities, wildlife loses their homes. For every action, there is a reaction.

An abundance of different species of animals is a sign of a healthy environment. This abundance of species is what is often referred to as “biodiversity.” According to the National Wildlife Federation, “Biodiversity allows us to live healthy and happy lives. It provides us with an array of foods and materials and it contributes to the economy. Without a diversity of pollinators, plants, and soils, our supermarkets would have a lot less produce.” This is just one reason why biodiversity is important, and why we should all care about the habitat loss in our region, including bird habitat. You can read all about Biodiversity in the National Wildlife Federation article referenced below.

How can we learn to share our limited space with other life that needs it, too? What if there was a small, simple act that we humans can participate in to help alleviate the drastic loss for some of our birds and other wildlife? What if all it took was to plant a native plant (or a few) that our native bird species prefer to eat or nest in? There is now a path for all interested in supporting the great biodiversity of wildlife in our region. That support can start with birds and other pollinators.

by Doris Evans
Tucson Audubon Society has launched a new program called Habitat At Home in Tucson to help homeowners create habitat in their yard to support birds and wildlife, and at the same time to be recognized for the effort. While this program is designed for folks who have the space to go a little bigger on the habitat, the general message is the same and the principles can be applied even to a smaller yard.
This program recognizes residents that take a variety of actions to create bird-friendly and sustainable yards. It will give residents incentives to landscape and garden in ways that improve habitat for birds (while improving quality of life for the resident at the same time!) Some of these include:
  • “Nature-scaping”—having landscape areas with exclusively native plants
  • Controlling non-native, invasive plant species
  • Reducing pesticide use
  • Increasing use of rainwater, storm water and gray water
  • Adding wildlife stewardship measures like nest boxes
  • Keeping cats indoors

There will be several levels of achievement recognized, from basic to more complex. Homeowners who achieve a Habitat At Home at a certain level can receive a special recognition sign to place in their yard that will show others their initiative and how they’re caring for our birds and other wildlife.

Knowing the value of nature, more homeowners are now seeking interesting, colorful and animated yards rather than sterile, lifeless ones. In addition:
  • Birds and other pollinators help in the garden by pollinating plants
  • Birds help control unwanted insects
  • Healthy yards create learning opportunities for children and get them outdoors
  • Yards that provide habitat contain a variety of native plants that green our neighborhoods
  • Yards that are good for birds create shade, which cools our community and reduces AC costs

by Laura Stafford
For those who sign up, this program comes with ongoing interactive opportunities and educational materials for family members of all ages. Continuing educational information will cover nest boxes, bird baths, feeders, and many other techniques you can to use make your yard more interesting to birds… and to people!

If you have wanted to find a way to help and to feel good about giving back a little, this could be the way to get started! Not only will you get outdoors and experience a little bit of nature, you will be helping birds (and ultimately the biodiversity in our region) in the process.

To learn more about your Habitat At Home, visit the Tucson Audubon Society website at

Reference: National Wildlife Federation, What is Biodiversity?

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