Bee Balm at Tapestry Community. Photo by Dottie Head
Certify your yard as a wildlife sanctuary
COVID 19 Update: We are still accepting applications for our Wildlife Sanctuary Program, but certification may be delayed as we are currently only using staff for certification visits. You can read our COVID-19 policy here.
Atlanta Audubon Society’s Wildlife Sanctuary Program encourages property owners to enhance their land for birds and other wildlife. Through planting and providing native plants, removing or controlling exotic species, and providing food, water, and shelter for wildlife, local property owners can provide critical wildlife habitat and create a safe-haven for wildlife.
Atlanta Audubon's goal is to create a network of certified wildlife sanctuaries throughout metro-Atlanta to counter the loss of wildlife habitat to urbanization, and to provide additional habitat for the hundreds of birds and other species threatened by climate change. To date, Atlanta Audubon has certified more than 500 properties, and we hope to grow this number in the coming years.
Click here to watch a video profile of Tapestry Community, one of the large properties certified through the Atlanta Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary Program.
Atlanta Audubon’s Certification Program is unique in that a certifier actually visits your property to ensure requirements are met and provides support throughout the certification process. Property owners who meet requirements and pass a site inspection will receive a sign designating their property as a registered "wildlife sanctuary.” If a property does not meet certification criteria, the certifier will recommend steps that should be taken to bring the property up to certification standards and recommend a timeline for future certification.
Please note that certification is only available at sites within metro-Atlanta and nearby counties. An Atlanta Audubon Society membership is required for certification.
Properties MUST meet the following standards to be eligible for certification
Property size and type:
- Certified area must be at least 50 sq. ft. in size.
- Applicants must be the owner/designated manager of the property.
Four basic components of wildlife habitat:
Certifier will also ensure:
- Less than half the certified portion of the property is turf grass.
- Less than one-quarter of the property is composed of invasive, exotic plant species, including English ivy, bamboo, Chinese privet, Japanese wisteria, kudzu, Johnson grass, or others. Plant species that can be harmful to birds, such as nandina, should be removed.
- Roughly half of the plants in the certified area are native Georgia species.
- The certified area must support bird populations. A list of observed bird species must be submitted by the applicant or certifier.
- Homeowner does not use spray or fog chemicals to deter mosquitos on certified area.
must pledge to the following bird-friendly practices:
Sign me up
To sign up for certification online and pay with a credit card, click the button above. Please note that you must be a current member of Atlanta Audubon (individual membership or higher) in order to be certified as a wildlife sanctuary. If you are not a current member, please select the registration option that includes a membership. The cost of a one-year membership is included in the large property certification fees.
If you would prefer to mail in your application and a check, please download the application from our website and mail to Atlanta Audubon, 4055 Roswell Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30342. Click here for an application.
Property owners will receive a welcome letter within a week of receipt of application with additional information on certification, including additional forms that will need to be completed prior to a visit by one of our volunteer certifiers. The entire process may take up six to eight weeks, particularly during the peak months of June through October. This is a largely volunteer-run program, so please be patient! If you have questions regarding the certification process, please email Gabe Andrle, Conservation Program Coordinator.
Need some help?
Here are some websites and other resources for creating your own backyard habitat:
Subscribe to our Wildlife Sanctuary newsletter
Atlanta Audubon distributes a quarterly newsletter for our Certified Wildlife Sanctuaries. If you are already certified or if you sign up for certification, you are automatically added to this list. Individuals who are interested in becoming an Atlanta Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary may sign up for this newsletter by filling out the form below. Atlanta Audubon never lends or sells its mailing list to anyone for any reason.