.

INTRODUCTION 

Over the past century urbanization has changed once ecologically productive land into sterile lawns with exotic ornamental plants.  We have introduced walls of glass, toxic pesticides, and domestic predators.  The human dominated landscape typically does not support functioning ecosystems or provide healthy places for birds.  As a result many bird species are in decline. 

Your yard - and the kinds of plants in it - matters more than you may know.  Native plants (appendix C) play an important role in providing the food and cover birds need to survive and thrive in a way that non-native plants cannot.  Birds require numerous insects to feed their nestlings.   The larval stages of many insects, including many butterflies, (appendix D) require native vegetation as they are not adapted to digest alien exotics.  By increasing the number of native plants, decreasing non-native invasive plants, (appendix F) and making other changes, you can greatly improve the value of your yard to birds.  Sources for native plants and seed can be found in appendix B . 

The Arkansas Audubon Society’s Bird-Friendly Yard Initiative provides guidance to make yards healthier and safer places for birds to live.  Each yard that meets the criteria described below will be certified by the Arkansas Audubon Society as “Bird-Friendly”. Explanations for the Criteria can be found in appendix A. 

The Application Form for can be downloaded as a Word document, completed and returned as an email attachment or printed out and mailed in to the address on the form.

CRITERIA FOR YARD CERTIFICATION 

Certification is based on completing actions in specific categories, as detailed below –  Native Plants,  Food and Water,  Bird Hazard Reduction,  Bird Shelter, Cover, and Nesting, and Personal Actions.  Completion of each action item earns a prescribed number of Certification Points.  Yards will be certified at two levels - Green and Gold.  To qualify for the Green level you must complete enough action items to accrue 100 Certification Points with at least 50 points from the Native Plants category.  A minimum of 150 Certification Points are required for the Gold level.  Registration of a yard with less than 100 points (not yet either Green or Gold) will be classified as “Working to Become Bird Friendly”. 

 Once your application is submitted, Arkansas Audubon Society (AAS) will provide resources and guidance to help you meet the criteria.  The appendix contains explanations for each of the categories of certification, as well as plant lists, suggested reading, etc.  If you wish, AAS will assign a volunteer Yard Mentor to answer your questions.  Contact Pam Stewart at 870-715-0260  bfaudubon@gmail.com.  In completing the application, photos of your yard would be helpful. 

You may apply at any time, and will receive a booklet with photos, descriptions, and habitat requirements for easy to grow plants native to most areas in Arkansas, a link to Identification of Invasive Plants in Southern Forests, which also has excellent photos and background information. You will also be eligible to receive a yard flag identifying your yard as “Green” or “Gold” Certified, or “Working to Become Bird Friendly”, as well as recognition in the AAS News Letter and representation of your yard on an Arkansas map.   

To register, download and fill in the Certification form, and send to bfaudubon@gmail.com.   Send a $20 (twenty dollar) check made out to Arkansas Audubon Society, or AAS, to Bird Friendly Yards, PO box 632, Jasper, AR 72641.  You will be registered according to the number of certification points as “Green”, “Gold”, or “Working to Become”.