You can be a champion for wild birds. Try these simple tips that you can do to help protect our wild friends and preserve our natural heritage. So take action and step into your role as a caretaker of the precious natural resources of our planet. Together, we help make the world a better place for wildlife and for people.
DECEMBER–Create a backyard habitat. In addition to feeders, baths, and nest boxes, there are many ways to make your backyard inviting to a variety of birds. Consider planting native trees, shrubs, and grasses that yield fruits, nuts, or seeds. Native plants are less susceptible to pests or disease and tolerate less-than-ideal climate and soil conditions well. Many species of birds nest or seek shelter in the hollows of dead trees. Top off rather than chop down dead trees and always look for nests before downing any tree.
NOVEMBER–Reduce your impact on our environment. Plastic bags, 6-pack rings, fishing line and other discarded materials can be deadly for a bird that has become entangled. Be responsible when enjoying outdoor sports and activities by keeping our environment clean and safe for wildlife. Reduce, reuse and recycle whenever possible.
OCTOBER–Bird 911. Be prepared to assist an injured bird. Line the bottom of a cardboard box with pine straw or a soft cloth (with no loops). Gently transfer the bird to the box. Securely close the flaps. Do not offer food or water to the bird. Keep the box in a warm, secure and quiet environment and quickly transport the bird to a federally permitted wildlife rehabilitator. For safety purposes, if you encounter an injured bird of prey or a large water bird, please contact your nearest rehabilitator or game warden for assistance. In Alabama, call (205) 663-7930, ext. 2.
SEPTEMBER–Prevent window collisions. Window collisions kill as many as one billion birds each year. Birds cannot differentiate between the reflection of trees and skies on glass windows and actual open skies. Help prevent window strikes by covering windows with screening or netting installed 2-3 inches from the glass. Exterior shutters, stickers and decals, or leaving vertical blinds half open, can also help prevent window strikes.
AUGUST–Make your home safe for birds. Glue traps intended for pest control can be deadly to birds. Songbirds are attracted to insects stuck on glue traps and, all too often, the birds themselves become the victim. Never use glue traps outdoors or in an open garage. If you do encounter a bird on a glue trap call your local wildlife rehabilitator immediately and do not attempt to remove the bird. Exercise caution when using or disposing of hazardous substances (motor oil, cooking oil, cleaning agents, fertilizers, etc.). Consider organic alternative and natural insect control.
JULY–Sustainable Land Use. Coffee grown in the shade of tree canopies, rather than on land cleared of vegetation, preserves precious habitat for many species of migratory birds. Consider purchasing shade-grown coffee and other items produced from sustainable land use practices. Make your purchase power count!
JUNE–Feed the birds. Feeders containing seeds, nuts, suet or nectar provide supplemental nutrition for birds year round, especially during nesting season, migration and inclement weather. Remember to clean and disinfect feeders regularly. Hummingbird nectar can spoil quickly and should be changed more frequently during periods of high temperatures.
MAY–Be a Baby Bird Buddy. Every year, kind-hearted people find young birds on the ground and mistakenly scoop them up believing the bird has been orphaned. In most caes these birds do not need our assistance! May species of birds are not capable of flight when they first leave the nest and, for several days, can be observed hopping along the ground or perching in low shrubs. During this “fledgling” stage, the parents continue to feed and protect their young while they are gaining strength and coordination. Adult birds will not reject their young because they have been touched by a human.
APRIL—Keep your cat indoors. Scientists estimate domestic cats kill hundreds of millions of birds and over a billion small mammals and reptiles annually. Domestic cats are not a natural part of our ecosystems. They compete with natural predators and can transmit or contract wildlife diseases. It’s much healthier and safer for your cat to stay indoors at all times. Learn more: How to Make Your Outdoor Cat a Happy Indoor Cat; Domestic Cat Predation on Birds and Other Wildlife; Conducting a Cat Indoors Campaign in Your Community; The Great Outdoors is No Place for Cats
MARCH—Give a bird a home. Many species–including Purple Martins, Eastern Bluebirds, Wood Ducks, and Barn Owls–will utilize man-made nest boxes. As natural habitats continue to disappear, birds have fewer places to nest and raise their young. Species-appropriate nest boxes are available at specialty birding and home improvement centers or find plans online and build your own!
FEBRUARY—Provide bird baths. Birds need fresh, clean water from which to drink and bathe year round. Bathing is vital to maintaining healthy plumage even during the cooler months. Species such as American Robins and Cedar Waxwings often visit water sources in large numbers creating much enjoyment for the backyard birder!
JANUARY—Support local bird conservation and rehabilitation organizations. Volunteer, donate, and become a member. Participate in education opportunities offered by these groups. Learning about native birds and observing them in their natural environment can be an entertaining, as well as educational, activity for family and friends.
“The American Veterinary Medical Association strongly encourages owners of domestic cats in urban and suburban areas to keep them indoors.”