Spring is the perfect time to get outside, see some wonderful birds, and think about some easy steps you can take to protect the migrants as they move through your yard and neighborhood, as well as the birds returning to nest near your home.
Many of the activities you do around your home have a direct impact on birds. Pesticides and fertilizers kill many species in yards, as well as in waterways after rains wash them into streams and rivers (remember the dead grebes from Silent Spring). Pet waste and car fluids also poison birds when they impair water quality. And all that water that we sprinkle on our lawns might be better used by birds if we didn't use it at all. In our yards, many exotic plants can send their seeds out into the neighborhood, where they may displace native plants and make the habitat less inviting to local birds, while planting native plants helps provide the habitat that wild birds are looking for. Almost 10% of the nearly 20 billion birds that live in North America are killed each year near settlements when they collide with windows, cars, wires, and towers...or get picked off by outdoor housecats. We can all take efforts to protect birds by changing some of our habits and landscaping.
Audubon challenges everyone to begin protecting wild birds (and the environmental health of their yards and families) by taking the Healthy Yard Pledge. Click here to pledge to
* Reduce pesticide use
* Improve water quality
* Conserve water
* Remove invasive exotic plants
* Plant native species
* Support birds and other wildlife on your property
More information on how to take these actions are available from Audubon here.
For other ideas on how to help birds, you might want to pick up the brand new book 101 Ways to Help Birds by Laura Erickson. I used the initial 101 list from Laura for an urban bird conservation class I taught at the University of Texas two years ago, and will post a full review here after my own copy arrives. Meanwhile, I've got some exotic plants to pull out of my backyard and new migrants to look for in the trees behind the house!