Click here to see our limited time SPECIAL OFFER!!

Can your home be a refuge?  The ABQ Backyard Refuge Program, managed by the Friends of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge with over 40 partners, encourages and empowers our community to create a mosaic of habitat patches across the region to support wildlife.  Certified properties receive a beautiful yard sign and a free rain barrel. 

The program certifies residential and business properties according to the type of conservation actions and wildlife resources that are present. (Click here to see the certification habitat types and best practices.)

If you would like assistance from one of our Bird Alliance volunteers to help you assess your property, learn how to implement the conservation best practices, or navigate the certification process, please contact us at

A refuge can be created:

  • in a residential back yard
  • in a front, back or side yard
  • using container gardening
  • on commercial or business property

The website for the Albuquerque Backyard Refuge Program has wonderful resources to help you create a wildlife sanctuary, as well as instructions for completing the application and this helpful workbook.

If you are ready to fill out the registration and start to certify your yard, please click here to use the registration form specific for the Bird Alliance of Central New Mexico friends and supporters. 

Certification is free, but a $50 donation is requested to help fund the program, including the yard sign.

 Click here to see our limited time SPECIAL OFFER!!

ABQ Backyard Refuge Habitat Types and Best Practices

Food SourcesWater SourcesShelterBest Practices
Contributing HabitatAt least 2Not requiredNot requiredAt least 2, from any group below
Connector Habitat4, at least 2 native plantsAt least 1At least 2At least 3, from any group below
Core Habitat6 in 4 seasons at least 4 native plantsAt least 2At least 4At least 6, 2 to 6 from any group below

Best Practices:

Soil & Water Conservation
1. Capture rainwater from roof
2. Have xeriscape elements (water-wise landscaping)
3. Use drip or soaker hose for Irrigation
4. Limit water use
5. Reducing erosion
6. Using mulch to keep soil cool and moist
7. Make and use compost

Wildlife Gardening

1. Keep pets indoors or in controlled areas
2. Convert traditional lawn from one species to a larger diversity of native and drought-tolerant plants
3. Replace non-native plants with native plants
4. Prune after insect emergence in spring plants
5. Trim trees and plants after wildlife nesting seasons and leave some dead branches for use by wildlife
6. Leave leaf litter for wildlife during the winter
7. Practice Integrated Pest Management
8. Eliminate chemical pesticides/herbicides/rodenticides
9. Eliminate chemical fertilizers
10. Allow plants to go to flower and seed
11. Leave some fruit on fruiting trees for wildlife
12. Leave bare ground for ground nesting bees
13. Ask about how to avoid bird window collisions


1. Post wildlife or plant observations on citizen science website (iNaturalist, eBird, Nature’s Notebook, etc.)
2. Advocating for land conservation
3. Volunteer at public lands or environmental conservation organizations
4. Attend an ABQ Backyard Refuge event or training
5. Promote wildlife gardening on social media or in your community
6. Recruit neighbors or friends and family to also seek certification

Limited Time SPECIAL OFFER!!

Certify your yard before October 31, 2024 and receive a free gift (while supplies last). Choose from a plant supply store gift certificate or a bird window strike prevention kit. You will also be entered into a drawing to win a free bird bath.

Simply check the box on your application that indicates that you heard about the ABQ Backyard Refuge Program from the Bird Alliance of Central New Mexico and then contact us when you receive your certification.