Audubon At Home Wildlife Sanctuary Program

Certifying properties as “Wildlife Sanctuaries” is a volunteer-driven project of the Northern Virginia chapter of the National Audubon Society.  It embraces the principles of the National Audubon Society’s Bird-Friendly Communities and promotes citizen participation in conserving and restoring local natural habitat and biodiversity.  

The largest volume of acreage available for conservation and restoration of healthy green space in Northern Virginia is “at home” in our own backyards.  Incentives for participation include making a difference in aiding the environment and pride in property certification and registration as an “Audubon at Home Wildlife Sanctuary.”

Who is Eligible?

The program is open to residential properties, homeowner associations, schools, places of worship, parks and commercial properties and other potentially sustainable wildlife habitats, both public and private seeking. 

What are the criteria for Sanctuary Certification?

 The Eastern Bluebird is one of  our Sanctuary Species. 

The Eastern Bluebird is one of  our Sanctuary Species. 

  1. Attract 10 of our 30 Sanctuary Species.  We “let the animals decide” about the quality of the habitat.  The key to certification is the observed use of the property by 10 out of 30 targeted sanctuary species, or species groups of wildlife listed by ASNV as needing assistance in our area due to loss of habitat.   Learn about the Sanctuary Species.
  2. Take the Healthy Yard Pledge to 
    • Reduce pesticide and fertilizer use
    • Protect water quality
    • Remove invasive exotic plants 
    • Plant native species  
    • Support birds and other wildlife on your property  
  3. Measure your success. Observe the changes in your habitat over time and share your results with Audubon At Home. 

What is the Certification Process?

We encourage you to use the resources on our website and those of our community partners throughout the process and share your experiences with us and your community. Here are the basic steps toward certification.  You may be just beginning your education on native plants or you may already have natural habitat 

  1. Download and review the application for required habitat practices and features to include in your habitat.  Filling in the application will help you identify gaps you will work on to attain certification.  
  2. Request an Audubon At Home visit.  An Audubon At Home Ambassador in your county will contact you to schedule an in-person visit when the they will assess your habitat readiness and offer recommendations about native plants and the animals they support, water retention, and sustainable habitat practices and features.  Ambassadors remain available for on-going consultation. 
  3. Take steps to improve your wildlife habitat and attract at least 10 Sanctuary Species.  You may be starting from scratch with your property or you may already meet the criteria so this step will be different for everyone.
  4. Have you met the criteria?  Once you have completed Steps 1-3 and had a visit from an AAH Ambassador,  complete your application noting your Sanctuary Species and submit it for certification.  There are regional differences at this point in the process so please ask your Ambassador where to send your signed application.  Audubon At Home will celebrate your success by adding information about your sanctuary to our Certified Wildlife Sanctuaries GIS Map tallying the growing number of acres conserved and restored under the program. No personally identifiable information is included in the GIS database.
  5. Spread the Word! (Optional).  We encourage you to purchase a Certified Wildlife Sanctuary sign ($35 including tax) to display in your yard Displaying a sign celebrates your efforts and lets others know about the program thereby increasing the impact of your habitat.  See your application for instructions on requesting your sign. You may send your check along with your application to the address on the application or Contact Us and we will send you the private PayPal page reserved for certified wildlife sanctuaries.


How Do I Get Started?

The Wildlife Sanctuary Program is powered by the passion of volunteer Ambassadors.  Contact the Coordinator in your county to arrange for your consultation and apply for certification.  

          Click on your county to download the application and to request a visit. 


How Do I Prepare My Wildlife Habitat?

Please review the information in our Creating Wildlife Habitat and Native Plants for Wildlife.


How Can I Get More Involved With Audubon At Home?

Audubon At Home is a volunteer-based program drawing from trained Master Naturalists and Master Gardeners. Contact us to learn more about this rewarding program.

Already an Audubon At Home Ambassador?