Yellow-rumped Warbler by Christy Cox
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 roughly 450 properties, but we hope to grow this number considerably in the coming years.
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 half 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.
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 join Atlanta Audubon Society 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 Society, 4055 Roswell Road, Atlanta, GA 30342. Click here for an application.
A certifier will contact you within a week after your application is received to schedule a certification visit. During the peak months of July to October, this entire process may take 4 to 6 weeks. This program is conducted entirely by volunteers so please be patient. If you have questions regarding the certification process, please email Melinda Langston, Sanctuary Certification Coordinator.
Need some help?
These websites offer helpful advice on creating your own backyard habitat: