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Atlanta Audubon certifies Cobb backyards as ‘wildlife sanctuaries’

Is your yard for the birds? If so, that’s good, says the Atlanta Audubon Society.

If your yard meets certain bird-friendly requirements, the society will officially certify your property as a “Wildlife Sanctuary” and award you with a handsome sign that you can post and let friends and neighbors know of your support for Georgia’s wild creatures.

That happened earlier this week to two home-owning couples in Cobb County — Annie and Scott Offen in Mableton and Tammy Bates and Jerry Bickford in Powder Springs.

Audubon certifiers Melinda Langston and Joy Carter toured the two yards with the owners, who pointed out the various trees, shrubs and flowers that they maintain to provide food, shelter and nesting sites for birds. They also noted their yards’ other bird-friendly features, such as a water source and minimal use of turf grass.

The birds obviously like it, as was evident by the cardinals, flycatchers, robins, catbirds, bluebirds, wrens, mockingbirds and other feathered species flitting and flying about the yards.

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After the visits, Langston declared that the yards met Audubon’s requirements for a Wildlife Sanctuary and presented the beaming couples with the coveted signs that denote their yards’ new status.

Langston said that Atlanta Audubon wants to create a network of such sanctuaries throughout metro Atlanta to counter the loss of wildlife habitat from urbanization and other threats, such as climate change. So far, 450 properties have been certified.

To qualify, a property must have, among other things, at least 50 square feet of habitat suitable for a variety of birds, but the size can range to several acres. Four basic wildlife needs must be met — food, shelter, water and suitable space for roosting. nesting and foraging. At least half the property should be planted in native plants.

To learn more and to apply for certification, visit www.atlantaaudubon.org/backyard-wildlife-sanctuary-certify.

IN THE SKY: From David Dundee, Tellus Science Museum astronomer: The moon will be new on Wednesday. Venus is in the west just after dark and sets about two hours later. Mars rises in the east just before midnight. Jupiter is high in the east at dusk. Saturn rises out of the east just before dark.

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