Creature Hero Projects

Create a Backyard Creaturefuge

No matter where you live, chances are you have some fascinating creatures living around you.  Fortunately, there are plenty of fun ways that you can help animals right outside your house.  In fact, you can do projects that help turn your backyard (or local community) into your very own mini wildlife refuge.  Here are some tips for your Backyard Creaturefuge:

Crafty Lumberjacks. (2017). photograph.
  • Collect a large glass container with a lid. The larger the container, the more room your plants will have to flourish
  • Add an inch of small pebbles or gravel to the bottom of the container
  • Add an inch or two of potting soil
  • Plant your plants, making sure there is enough room for each of them to fully grow
  • Add decorations such as plastic animal figures to your terrarium
  • Place the terrarium in an area with ample sunlight
  • Lightly water your mini habitat consistently and watch your plants come to life!
Squirrel Feeder
Miss Ginsu. (2009). Recycled Squirrel Feeder. photograph, Berlin, Germany
  • Empty and fully-clean out a milk jug
  • Cut out a large window on the side of the jug, making sure it is big enough for a squirrel to access the food inside
  • Poke two holes on top, one on either side of the cap and roughly an inch down
  • Thread string through the holes at the top of the jug to hang it outside
  • Fill the bottom of the jug with nuts, dried fruit mixture, or even corn on the cob
  • Finally, hang your squirrel feeder outside
Frog Hotel
  • Gather PVC pipes of different widths, a large watertight container, differently-sized rocks, gravel/sand, and some aquatic plants (optional)
  • Cut your PVC pipes to different lengths and sand the edges so they are smooth
  • Arrange the pipes in your watertight container
  • As you’re arranging your pipes into place, have a partner hold them upright while you add gravel and sand to the base of your container; this allows the pipes to stand on their own
  • If you choose to add aquatic plants, add them now and fill the rest of the container with gravel/sand and decorative rocks
  • Finally, fill your hotel (pipes and container) with water and your guests are ready to check-in!
Mini Pond
cjmckendry / Getty Images
Create mini aquatic habitat in 7 easy steps
  • Gather a large watertight container, differently-sized rocks, sticks, and aquatic plants
  • Dig a hole deep enough for the top of your water container to be level with the ground
  • Once your container is in the ground, surround the outside with dirt, sticks, rocks, and other plants to make it more like a creature’s natural environment
  • Place some gravel and/or sand at the base of your pond
  • Plant your aquatic plants! Check out some of these cool aquatic plants that would work best in your mini pond
  • Finally, fill your pond with water
  • Lay back and watch the many creatures that come to use it
Urban Gardening

Don’t have a backyard but want to protect wildlife? Try urban gardening!

Urban gardening creates a home for wildlife in the city in just 6 easy steps:

  • Collect reclaimed wood, old pots, baskets, or even old water jugs to refurbish them into new homes for your garden plants. The bigger the better!
  • Prep your balcony or windowsill by setting up cages to allow your plants to climb, attaching hangers to your balcony or window
  • Pick out seedlings from your local nursery and transplant them into your new plant holders. Make sure the seedlings you choose will be able to thrive in your space! If your planter is located in a more shaded area, pick a shade-tolerant plant and vice versa.
  • Make sure each seedling has enough soil, space, and plenty of water!
  • Monitor your new garden to check on its growth and don’t forget to water your plants daily
  • For a more in-depth guide on building a windowsill garden, follow these steps

Reduce your food waste in 6 easy steps: 

  • Gather a bin with a lid: an old storage container, a new one, or even old water jugs!
  • Poke or drill 8-10 holes into the side and bottom of your compost bin for proper air circulation
  • Place some browns (yard waste, dirt, newspaper, etc.) followed by greens (old food waste, grass clippings, etc) to your compost bin
  • Lightly dampen the inside, making sure everything is evenly wet
  • As you begin adding more waste to your compost bin, turning the contents of your bin and adding dirt once a week
  • After about 1-3 months, you should have fresh fertilizer to add to your garden!
Pinecone Bird Feeder Creature Hero Project
Food for your feathered friends!
  • Take a pinecone and tie a string around it
  • Spread peanut butter on the pinecone, making sure every crack is filled
  • Roll the pinecone in birdseed and/or dried fruit mixture
  • Hang the pinecone on a tree at least 5 feet from the ground
  • Sit back and try to spot the different species of birds that visit the pinecone!
Tobe Abode Creature Hero Project
A home for your neighborly amphibians!
  • Take a flowerpot (or similar pot) and break a semicircular opening, about 4 inches in diameter, on the rim
  • Turn the pot upside down and place on the ground (preferably near flowers or shrubs)
  • Bury rim into ground, leaving room for opening
  • Place saucer on top of overturned pot and fill with potting mix + your choice of seeds
  • Check back to find the toads that live there!
Pollinator Garden
A home for hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies!
  • Plant a mix of perennial wildflowers, annual wildflowers, and shrubs in your backyard
  • Be careful not to use pesticides or overuse fertilizers – they can harm nearby creatures!
  • Give shelter to pollinators by letting a log decompose or planting a bush nearby
  • Provide water in a saucer or bowl, placing rocks inside to provide drinking perches
  • If you can, try to add a hummingbird feeder to the garden
  • Come back to count all the new visitors!
Bat House Creature Hero Project
A home for your resident flying mammals!
  • Purchase or build a bat house with your parents
  • Find or purchase a pole to mount the house on (a barn or building with wood, brick, or stone siding works too). Make sure there is a water source nearby – under a quarter-mile away.
  • With your parents, take an extension ladder and drill the house into your pole (12-20 feet off the ground) using screws
  • Sit outside at dusk to watch the bats come out to feed on insects

*NOTE  Bats can be infected with rabies, use caution when viewing them

Reptile Rockery Creature Hero Project
A basking spot for lizards! (For warmer climates)
  • Gather a bunch of stones
  • Find a sunny, south-facing spot and pile the stones into a mound
  • Make sure there are lots of small nooks and crannies inside the pile to allow reptiles to move in and out
  • Allow grass to grow long around it
  • Be on the lookout for sunbathing visitors like snakes, lizards, and turtles!
Tree Houses for Birds
A home inside a dead tree
  • Instead of cutting down that dead tree in your backyard, simply leave it up (if it’s safe to do so)! It provides vital habitat for birds
  • Woodpeckers eat grubs found in trees and create holes for their nests
  • Eagles and other birds of prey perch on branches to hunt for food
  • Consider putting a pinecone bird feeder up to attract new birds
  • Sit back and spot your new neighbors!
Hummingbird Feeder
A feast for the quickest birds
  • Gather a plastic water bottle, disposable red bowl, and yellow drinking straws

  • Cut out flower shape from bowl and then punch a hole in the center just big enough for a straw

  • Drill hole in top of bottle cap just wide enough for a straw

  • Insert straw into the hole in the bottle cap, push on the cut-out flower, and then seal with non-toxic glue. Make sure the straw bends after it exits the bottle

  • Wrap wire around bottle to hang upside down from a tree

  • Remove cap to add nectar (sugar water) to the bottle

  • Hang and watch hummingbirds stop at your new creation!

Trash Collection Creature Hero Project
Clean up your neighborhood for your fellow creatures! 
  • Stray trash pollutes ecosystems and harms all our fellow creatures

  • You may choose to do this in your neighborhood, a local park, or even a beach

  • Gather a trash bag and walk around the area, picking up garbage and litter

  • Disposable plastic is the priority, as it is the most harmful to wild creatures

  • Make the walk even more fun! Bring your pets for a walk and explore!

Butterfly House
A home for a kaleidoscope of butterflies (advanced)
  • Check out these detailed directions and make sure to build the Butterfly House with your parents

  • You will need wood, screws, nails, a jigsaw, copper pipe strap, a drill, a hammer, and moisture-proof glue

  • The house will feature small slits for butterflies to enter, with places inside for butterflies to rest

  • Once completed, make sure to place the house in an area with lots of flowering plants, mounted 2 to 3 feet off the ground

Tree Planting
A lifelong investment for wildlife and breathable air
  • Research which trees are native to your area
  • Go to a local nursery and purchase a sapling
  • Identify the ‘root ball’: the collection of dirt and roots at the base of the sapling
  • Dig a broad, shallow hole for planting (around 2-3 times wider than the root ball, but only as deep as the root ball)
  • Place the sapling into the hole
  • Fill hole with soil gently, then pat it down lightly with your hands
  • Put mulch around the base of the tree to hold moisture
  • Make sure the tree receives water at least once a week
Bird House Creature Hero Project
A home for your flying friends
  • Take one 5-foot 1 x 6 inch board (preferably pine wood)
  • Place bird house on a pole or hang from a tree at least 5 feet above the ground
  • Make sure your birdhouse is located away from any bird feeders or ponds you have
  • Check back in spring and place nesting material for birds inside house (cottontail nesting balls, pet hair, lint, thread or yarn)
  • Watch the house for any birds that come by!
Leaf and Log Pile Creature Hero Project
A surprising refuge for the winter months
  • Rake your backyard leaves into a pile
  • Add a log pile or wood chippings on top if you have them
  • These leaves will act as a mulch and fertilizer for the ground
  • The leaf pile will be a vital hibernation spot for toads, frogs, and other amphibians
  • The pile will also serve as a home for tons of insects, which can feed local birds
  • Poke around the pile in early spring to reveal all the creatures you helped!
Bird Bath Creature Hero Project
A watering hole for your feathered friends!
  • Take any bowl, saucer, platter, or tray that can hold water
  • Get a pedestal or gather materials that you can make one out of (bricks, wood, etc.)
  • Place the pedestal near a natural feature (a tree, bush, lawn, etc.)
  • Place the bowl/saucer/platter on top of the pedestal and fill with water
  • Watch the bird bath for any birds that come by!
Blueberry Bush Creature Hero Project
Snacks for you and other furry creatures!

  • Purchase berry seeds or bushes at your local store or nursery (could be blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, currents, etc.)
  • Tip: You can sometimes use your own berry seeds from berries you already have!
  • Choose a spot to plant your bush/seeds with good drainage, ample sunlight, and fertile soil (look online for instructions about your specific berry plant)
  • Follow the directions from your seed packet or bush and plant in your garden
  • Make sure to give the berries enough water if mother nature doesn’t oblige
  • Once the berry bushes have established themselves, place mulch around them to prevent water loss and weed growth
  • Come back to pick the berries and keep on the lookout for birds, bears, and other creatures that will come to feast!
Vegetable Garden Creature Hero Project
Image Source:
Reduce your footprint!
  • Purchase vegetable seeds at your local store
  • Pick a grassy spot with a good amount of dirt underneath; remove around 3 inches of sod (current soil and grass) with a spade or shovel
  • Add an inch of compost (including leaf compost if you wish!) to the area
  • Use a shovel to mix together the compost and the underlying dirt, making sure to break up any clumps that come up
  • Plant any seeds you’d like to grow, making sure to follow the directions on the seed packet! Make sure to plant after the last frost in your area.
  • Water the seeds/plants according to the directions!
  • Once the vegetable plants have established, place mulch around them to prevent water loss and weed growth
  • Harvest your very own vegetables at the end of the season!
Bug Hotel
Image Source:

For detailed instructions, click here!

  • Find a used plastic jug, wooden box, or other container (as seen above)
  • Cut the side out of your container to welcome your guests!
  • Stuff your container with leaves, pinecones, sticks, pine-needles, or other plant matter. You can separate these with walls if you choose.
  • With the help of an adult, use punch pliers or a drill to make two holes in the top of your hotel and loop some string through.
  • If you want, you may cover the entrances of your hotel with wire mesh or chicken wires to protect your insect-guests from intruders!
  • Decorate your hotel!
  • Place or hang the hotel in your backyard, garden, windowsill, or balcony. Make sure it is fixed in an area that receives some sun and light shade. Placing it near flowers will also help draw insects in.
  • Your hotel is now open for business!

Creature Hero Project Map

Find your completed Creature Hero Mission on the map below!

To get your project on the map, complete a Creature Hero Project and request a Creature Hero Badge: