Here’s How to Help Birds
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.
It’s estimated that outdoor cats kill more than two billion birds each year. And a house cat is one of the few predators that can catch a hummingbird.
In addition, if you care about your cat, outdoor cats die early.
Outdoor cats are hit by cars, killed by neighbors, and eaten by coyotes.
They can be poisoned by eating rodents that ate poisoned bait.
If you live near a wilderness, outdoor cats can be killed by hawks, owls, 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.
Any chemical that kills bugs or weeds is also toxic to other living things.
With people, 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 could 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, they have hired fake experts to approve their products, and they have published bogus reports.
As for birds, these chemicals kill critters (bugs, worms, and grubs) that birds depend upon for food. Or worse, birds become sick or die when they touch plants and dirt that has been treated.
After a rain, these chemicals wash into lakes and rivers. Then they kill fish and wildlife that drink the water. And they can also end up in your drinking water.
So save money and time by skipping the chemicals.
Grow plants in your garden that feed birds. Often these are native plants that require less maintenance and less water than exotic plants.
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 additives 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 bugs, no bees, no birds.
There is also growing evidence that GMOs cause infertility, autism, and other disorders.
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 more money in your budget for other projects.
Here’s an organization that is working to help cavity nesting birds: The Cavity Conservation Initiative
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 educational meetings.
I recommend these organizations:
Want to Know More?
See: Birds at Risk
See: Endangered Birds
See: Keep Your Cat Safe
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.