(Red-winged blackbirds, Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, KS. Photo by Jerry Segraves)
With spring migration in full flight, the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) reports an uptick in the number of people contacting them with questions about protecting the returning bird populations as they make their way north (in the northern hemisphere, that is). The ABC responded today with a list of ten steps individuals can take to help birds.
1. Keep your cat indoors
This is best for your cat as well as the birds, as indoor cats live an average of three to seven times longer. Even well fed cats kill birds, and bells on cats don't effectively warn birds of cat strikes. For more information, click here.
2. Reduce window strikes
Prevent birds hitting your windows by using a variety of treatments to the glass on your home -- see ABC's new flier.
Eliminate pesticides from your yard-even those pesticides that are not directly toxic to birds can pollute waterways and reduce insects that birds rely on for food.
4. Create backyard habitat
If you have a larger yard, create a diverse landscape by planting native grasses, flowers, and shrubs that attract native birds. You will be rewarded by their beauty and song, and will have fewer insect pests as a result.
5. Donate equipment
Donate old birdwatching equipment such as binoculars or spotting scopes to local birdwatching groups-they can get them to schools or biologists in other countries who may not have the resources they need.
6. Reduce your carbon footprint
Use a hand-pushed or electric lawnmower, carpool, use low energy bulbs and Energy Star appliances. Contact your energy supplier and ask them about purchasing your energy from renewable sources.
7. Go organic
Buy organic food and drink shade-grown coffee-increasing the market for produce grown without the use of pesticides, which can be toxic to birds and other animals, will reduce the use of these hazardous chemicals in the U.S. and overseas. Shade coffee plantations maintain large trees that provide essential habitat for wintering songbirds.
Keep feeders and bird baths clean to avoid disease and prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
9. Public policy
Support bird friendly legislation. Example: HR 4797, a proposed bill that provides for bird-friendly federal buildings.
10. Flock together
Join a bird conservation group to learn more about birds and support important conservation work. NRDC's We Love Birds social network, a partnership with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, also provides a place to connect with other bird lovers.
(Graphic by the US Fish & Wildlife Service)