Good morning, from Washington DC! I’m here today briefly to write about some of the things you can do right now to help bird conservation around the globe.
Keeping Cats Indoors – Cats and birds, birds and cats! It seems like one of the best reasons that cats get stuck in trees and need firemen to come save them. I love cats, and I have a some at home with my family, but there is something we always make sure happens. We keep our cats indoors to reduce the risk that Mac or Cheese (yes, those are the names of my cats) try anything funny with our feathered friends out in the trees. Keep your cats indoors or supervised if they are let outside.
Make Your Backyard a Stopover Site – I finally got around to this technique last weekend. It took a little time, but by mid-afternoon my yard was clean of all debris and hiding spots where cats or other animals could ambush birds were dismantled. The bird feeders were filled to the brim with seed, and soon many birds came flying into my yard. Next, I need to get something for the hummingbirds to eat…
Besides putting up food for birds, you can also plant native species of plants to allow the birds to have something to return to next year. You’ll be amazed how much more vibrant your backyard becomes too!
Make Widows Visible – Now this one is a little tricky to do, but can be easily done with perseverance and a little flexibility. Every year, millions of birds smack right into clear windows because they either can’t see them or the glass reflects natural areas a bird thinks it can fly through. To cut down on the loss of birds, make your windows visible by hanging a decoration or even having blinds on a window which can deter a bird from flying into something it can’t see.
There are things to be done at night too! To help birds migrate, we can turn off lights (many of whom do this at night). Many birds use the stars to navigate large distances at night. When inclement weather arrives and they still decide to fly, a lit room of a tall building may seem like a guiding star…that is, until they hit the invisible window filled with light during the night.
Slow Down (!) – This one comes easy enough! Slow down when you drive! For our drivers out there, we might occasionally see a dead animal carcass on the side of the road. Most of us will drive past it thinking, “Someone will pick that up.” Leave it to the vultures to do this dirty job! These carrion specialists love catching a meal on the side of the road, but sometimes eat a little too far off the shoulder of the highway or road. It is up to our diligence as conservationists to be on the lookout for birds who may be snacking near the road, and to reduce our speeds so that they can hear us and react fast enough to get out of the way!
Learn More, Become a Citizen Scientist – Read a bird article online! Or open that magazine in the supermarket with the flamingo on it! There are many things you can learn just from sitting outside and watching bird behavior. Why is that bird standing on that rock with its wings out? Why does that bird run, peck, then run again? That bird is this color, but why is it flying with that other bird that is not as colorful? How many birds did I just see fly away? Your questions fuel your curiosity, so feel free to hunt for the answers to your questions!