For more information on the Living With Wildlife series, contact the WDFW Wildlife Program




Pacific TreefrogThe Backyard Habitat

Appropriate habitat should have food, water, shelter and space. Enhancing your yard for wildlife means providing one or all of these basic needs.

Wildlife need:

Food - Seeds, berries, nuts, flower nectar, insects, and other wildlife
Water - Birdbaths, dripping faucets, ponds, puddles, streams
Shelter - Trees, shrubs, brush piles, rock walls, rock piles, hollow logs, snags
Space - Corridors, territories, quiet space, open space

A variety of food sources in your yard allows a variety of wildlife to use it. Provide a good mix of plants that produce seed or fruit at different times of the year. Insects are a very important part of the diet of most songbirds, so try to avoid insecticides. After providing trees and shrubs, you may want to consider bird feeders. These are described in our publication “Winter Feeding of Wild Birds Around the Home.”

Animals will walk; fly or crawl a great distance just for a drink because some form of water is essential. Having a birdbath or other source of water in your yard will lure many kinds of wildlife.

Wildlife must have safe places where they are free from danger and bad weather and can raise their offspring. Most animals find shelter in trees or shrubs. Leaf litter and dead branches provide shelter for insects and amphibians. Dense vegetation provides buffers between wildlife habitat and busy areas such as driveways. If possible, designate a special area of your yard for wildlife.

Is your backyard habitat large enough for wildlife? Most birds and mammals need more that the average backyard allows, but that doesn’t mean they won’t visit or nest in your yard. An animal may need less space if other requirements are abundant.