Attracting Wildlife to Your Backyard

I always love the first time I notice that cardinals have returned to my yard, which is usually around this time of year. It’s great fun watching their bright red bodies flit around in the trees and listening to their calls.

Dakota L., CC BY-SA 3.0

If you also enjoy seeing local wildlife in your backyard, you can encourage them to visit by turning your yard into an attractive habitat. Doing so not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of your yard, but also increases biodiversity and promotes the health of local ecosystems. As human development continues to encroach on natural habitats, giving animals a place where they can find food, water, and safety is more and more important for their survival.1

Tips for Attracting Wildlife

  • Create areas and structures where birds and other animals can hide.

Lawns are open spaces that leave wildlife exposed to predators, so animals are attracted to denser areas of shrubs and trees. Bird and bat houses are also places for refuge.1

  • Plant native plants and remove invasive or non-native spaces.

Local animals prefer plants that are also native to the area because these plants provide the kind of shelter these animals need or the food they eat. Look for plants that produce the berries, seeds, fruit, or nectar local wildlife like to eat.1, 2

  • Provide water and food sources.

Bird baths and ponds give wildlife a place to drink and clean themselves. Birdfeeders can also be used to attract various birds to your yard.2

  • Reduce man-made hazards.

Pets, especially cats, prey on local wildlife and may drive them from the area. Pesticides are also a danger to wildlife, so minimizing their use.1

This is only a brief overview of everything you can do to turn your yard into a wildlife habitat. For more information please see

  1. Mark E. Hostetler, Gregg Klowden, Sarah Webb Miller, and Kara N. Youngentob, Landscaping Backyards for Wildlife: Top Ten Tips for Success, CIR1429, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2015,
  2. Emma V. Willcox, Mark E. Hostetler, Martin B. Main, and Maena Voigt, Attracting Backyard Birds: Bird Feeder Selection, WEC162, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2014,

Posted: February 15, 2016

Category: Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Lawn, Wildlife
Tags: Attracting Wildlife, Cardinals, Environment Hot Topic, Habitat Conservation, Habitat Destruction, Wildlife Habitat

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