Urban Bird Habitat

Plant and animal diversity is a sign of a healthy ecosystem. This garden is an oasis for many bird species; it provides for their basic needs; food, water, shelter, and a place to raise their young.

Over 300 bird species have been identified in the District of Columbia. Some live here all year round, some stay seasonal, and others pass through on their annual migrations to their summer and winter homes.

Photos from our Urban Bird Habitat Flickr stream. Requires flash player.

Lessons from the Urban Bird Habitat

What can you provide to encourage birds to visit your back yard?

All birds need three basic things from their habitat: food, water, and shelter.

Bird habitat illustration
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What’s happening in the Urban Bird Habitat?

Birds behave in different ways depending on the time of year. You can help birds find sanctuary on your home garden by planting and pruning with their needs in mind.

Bird illustration
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What types of plants best attract birds to the garden?

Local and migratory birds have evolved to depend on native plants for food and shelter.

Plant and flower illustration
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Who is in the Garden?

Birds seen around the National Museum of Natural History
Once you have entered the Encyclopedia of Life website, click on a bird image to see the name and information about the species.


The Smithsonian Urban Bird Habitat is a joint project of the Smithsonian Gardens and the National Museum of Natural History. Partial funding was provided by the Smithsonian Women’s Committee.

The Lost Bird Project

Sculpture from the Lost Bird Project

Smithsonian Gardens and Smithsonian Institution Libraries are pleased to present The Lost Bird Project, an outdoor exhibit by artist Todd McGrain. Five large-scale bronze sculptures of extinct North American birds are on display in the Enid A. Haupt Garden and the Urban Bird Habitat through March 15, 2015.

Learn more about The Lost Bird Project

Stories from the Urban Bird Habitat

Smithsonian Gardens staff working on a dead tree

A Dead Tree Comes Back to Life as a Wildlife Snag

Discover how Smithsonian Gardens staff turned a dead tree into a landscape feature and housing for birds and small mammals.

Blue Bird Trail

Blue Bird Trail adds Eco-Friendly Homes to Raise Fledglings

Learn about Smithsonian Gardens’ effort to establish an Eastern Bluebird Habitat Trail at our greenhouse facility in Suitland, MD by installing nesting boxes with green roofs, two of which are also going up in the Urban Bird Habitat.

Student taking notes

YES! Students Take Count for Cornell

Read how two high school students became citizen scientists with Smithsonian Gardens by participating in the Cornell Lab Ornithology Celebrate Urban Birds project.