Here’s How to Help Birds


Wilson’s Warbler, Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye, in 5 Ways to Help Birds

Wilson’s Warbler, Male


First, Why Birds Matter

Birds are an indicator species.

This means they are more sensitive to changes in their environment than other creatures. Thus, they serve as a warning.

For example, years ago coal miners took a canary with them into the mine. If the canary died, they knew that dangerous concentrations of methane (an odorless gas) were present.

Similarly birds can alert us to modern dangers. These include actions we take for granted because everybody seems to be doing them. When these actions are practiced on a large, global scale, the results can be devastating for birds, and ultimately for us.

So everything we do to help birds helps all of us.


1) Keep Cats Indoors

It’s estimated that outdoor cats kill a billion birds each year. And a house cat is one of the few predators that can catch a hummingbird.

Keeping your cat indoors is good for your cat, good for you, and good for birds.

Outdoor cats are hit by cars, killed by neighbors, and attacked by dogs.

They can be poisoned by eating rodents that have eaten poisoned bait.

If you live near a wilderness, outdoor cats can be killed by hawks, owls, coyotes, and other predators.

And when you let your outdoor cat come inside, it brings fleas, ticks, and toxic chemicals into your home.

So, keeping your cat indoors helps everybody.

Your cat lives longer. You save money on vet bills. And your home stays cleaner.


2) Avoid Chemicals

Any chemical that kills bugs or weeds is also toxic to other living things.

The tricky part of this is: These chemicals cause cumulative damage over long time. And some people are affected more than others.

So your neighbor who scatters chemicals by hand may be fine (for now), and your 4-year old who walked across his lawn may become deathly ill tomorrow.

This is further complicated by the fog of misinformation that has been promoted by the companies that make chemicals. They have prevented independent research on the effects of their products plus published bogus reports. Recent news reports that the manufacturer of glyphosate prevented accurate information about its toxicity from being made public.

As for birds, these chemicals kill critters (bugs, worms, and grubs) that birds depend upon for food.

After a rain, these chemicals wash into lakes and rivers. Then they kill fish and wildlife that drink the water.

So save money and time by skipping the chemicals.


3) Provide Food

Grow plants in your garden that feed birds. Often these are native plants that require less maintenance and less water than exotic plants.

Some flowers also attract butterflies.

If practical, set up bird feeders for the birds that live in your area. Your local bird or pet store can offer recommendations on what will give the best results.

Important Tip #1: Avoid bird “foods” that contain dyes or chemicals. These are unnecessary and often harmful for birds.

Important Tip #2: Avoid any type of GMO, either for your lawn or your garden.

GMOs are plants that have been modified to make them different from their natural versions.

Some GMOs contain a pesticide to protect them from bugs. Unfortunately, this makes them harmful for birds. These GMOs kill bugs that birds need for food. They also kill bees. As a result, farms that plant GMO crops are completely silent – no birds, no bugs, no bees.

There is also growing evidence that GMOs cause infertility, autism, and other disorders.


4) Leave Old Trees Alone

Birds need places to perch and hide. And some birds need old trees with cavities to build nests. For example, bluebirds, nuthatches, and woodpeckers are cavity nesters.

So, trim old trees as little as practical. When safe, leave old trees alone.

If a tree has died, consider cutting off only the high risk branches, leaving ten to twenty feet of the trunk. (Yes, I know this looks odd.)

If you manage a park, leave as many old trees as safe and practical. This will make the park appear more natural and make it more attractive to birds.

There’s an economic incentive, too.

It costs less to leave old trees alone.

So this leaves money in your budget for other projects.


5) Support Nature Organizations

Many groups are working hard to help birds by protecting and preserving the environment.

Since these groups are non-profit organizations, they need your help and support.

In return for your support, these organizations provide many educational and enjoyable activities.

For example, Audubon chapters organize field trips, conduct classes, and hold meetings.

Here’s a list of groups to consider below.

Audubon

American Bird Conservancy

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

North American Bluebird Society

Sierra Club


What’s Next?

For some, this might seem like a lot of information.

So pick one easy action that helps birds and then experiment with it. Then pick another.

The birds thank you for your support.