How to provide nesting places for wildlife


From the treetops to belowground, a healthy backyard wildlife habitat plays host to a myriad animals and they all need safe places for their young. The more nesting places in your yard, the more inviting it will be. Here’s what to offer. How to design a backyard wildlife habitat   

Nesting places for birds

Birds are among the most visible animals in a yard. For most, trees are essential, but some species will construct nests in other places.   All about birds   

  • Trees
  • Dense shrubs
  • Tall grasses
  • Thorny thickets, such as pyracantha
  • Birdhouses

Nesting places for mammals

One kind of mammal or another will use these places. Urban mammals  

  • Tree
  • Hollow log
  • Under a log
  • Woodpile
  • Rockpile
  • Abandoned burrow 
  • Abandoned owl house
  • Tall grasses
  • Berm or dirt mound for digging a den
  • In thick shrubs

Places for insects

Don’t overlook insects! They’re beneficial and need places to lay their eggs. Fortunately, in a healthy yard there’s hardly a spot they won’t use.

  • Shrubs and flowers
  • Tree leaves and under bark
  • Woodpiles, brush piles
  • Grasses
  • Leaf and plant litter
  • Butterfly house
  • Insect house


Water is surprisingly important. Some mammals, such as Raccoons and bats, like to be near water. Amphibians, such as frogs and toads, need water in which to lay their eggs and for their offspring. Even some songbirds, such as Tree Swallows, nest near water. Dragonflies and many other insects use the space above and around ponds, streams, and other water sources for courting and mating, and the water for laying their eggs. Most of us don’t have a large pond or stream, but even small sources are beneficial. More about water for wildlife  

  • Water feature
  • Small pond
  • Whiskey half-barrel with a water plant and a pump for aeration
  • Water garden

*Top image of Tree Swallow: Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren / Wiki; cc by 2.0

More reading:

Insects rule! Yes, they really do!   
Yes, animals have feelings!