Building a refuge for wildlife in our yards is a way to nurture habitat on a personal scale and actively care for our wild neighbors. By intentionally creating spaces we can share with other urban species, Albuquerque can be a refuge for both people and wildlife.

There is a wonderful program set up for Albuquerque residents called the ABQ Backyard Refuge Program. It helps residents establish a habitat that supports a mixture of wildlife.  The ABQ Backyard Refuge Program, which is managed by the Friends of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, was developed by more than forty partners including local government agencies, university departments, and conservation organizations. The program provides resources for residents, including an introductory guide that features a list of plants that both thrive in the Albuquerque area and attract different kinds of wildlife as well as a workbook for building and documenting your refuge. The goal of the ABQ Backyard Refuge Program is to create a mosaic of habitat across the city to provide resources for both resident and migrating wildlife. In addition to recruiting residents to build a habitat in their yards, we are working with our partners to increase green space in the communities most affected by our changing climate.

It is easy to make your yard more friendly for wildlife! Here are three tips:

~Leave a few dead branches in your yard, as long as they don’t pose a safety hazard. They can provide great perches for birds and food sources or potential nesting sites for woodpeckers.

~Allow some leaves to stay on the ground in the fall so more butterflies are attracted to your property in the spring.

~Leave dried sunflowers and grasses in your yard because they provide food for wildlife during the winter.

Whether you have a balcony or a patio (where you can put potted pollinator plants) or acreage at your home, you can make changes that benefit wildlife. Check out becoming a member of our ABQ Backyard Refuge Certification Program! When you certify your space as an ABQ Backyard Refuge, you are helping to encourage neighbors and other members of the community to build wildlife habitats. As a member of the certification program, you will receive a metal sign with stickers that show your certification level. The sign can be a conversation starter with your neighbors and help the program grow. Learn more about the ABQ Backyard Refuge Program by attending a virtual 90-minute workshop on Friday, June 11. The workshop normally costs $10, but scholarships are available. For more information and to register for the workshop, visit

Author: Laurel Ladwig, Backyard Refuge Partnership Coordinator, Friends of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge. Visit and follow us on Facebook & Instagram @ABQbackyardrefuge, and Twitter ABQbrp
Have a question about the article?