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 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 42 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

    • Conserve water and protect water quality

    • Remove invasive non-native plants

    • Plant species native to our area

    • Reduce area covered by lawn grass

    • Support birds and other wildlife

      • Strongly encourage keeping cats indoors

      • Guard against human-made hazards like window collisions, light and noise pollution and poison pest bait

  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. Use the resources on our website to learn about healthy habitat, native plants and the insects, birds and other wildlife that depend on them.

  2. Request a no-cost Audubon at Home visit if you need support getting started. Your AAH Ambassador will offer personalized advice on habitat practices and native plants suitable for your property. Request the visit by clicking on your county below.

  3. Take steps to improve your wildlife habitat and attract at least 10 Sanctuary Species.

  4. When you have attracted at least 10 Sanctuary Species: Complete this form. If you have not yet been assigned an Ambassador, request a visit for certification by clicking on your county below.

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?