Top 10 Ways To Help Spring's Migrating Birds

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Despite persistent late-occurring snowstorms, average temperatures are starting to climb, soon to be followed by the most deadly period of the year for birds: springtime. Although spring means new life and hope to many people, billions of birds face the tribulations of a perilous migration followed shortly by breeding and the production of scores of newbornbirds that will spend several highly vulnerable weeks as they grow and fledge.

According to Dr. George Fenwick, president of American Bird Conservancy, “Spring is a deadly time for birds for three big reasons. Scientists estimate that 300 million to one billion birds die each year from collisions with buildings, many during arduous migrations in unfamiliar environments. Up to 50 million die from encounters with communication towers and up to six million may die each day from attacks by cats left outdoors. These deaths occur year-round, but many occur during spring and fall migration.” 

“Some studies suggest that perhaps as many as half of all migrating birds do not make it back home,” he said, “succumbing to various threats on either end of the journey.”

One in five Americans engage in bird watching, so after months of waiting for migrants to return, many people turn to emails, phone lines, and social media to ask ABC a dozen variations on the same question: “How can I help the birds?” Here is our answer to that question, just in time for spring.

Top 10 ways to help birds this spring:

1. Keep your cat indoors. This is best for your cat as well as for the birds, as indoor cats live an average of three to seven times longer. Cats are responsible for an estimated 2.4 billion bird deaths each year. In the spring, young birds or nestlings often end up on the ground, attracting the fatal attention of a nearby cat. Ground nesting species that are especially vulnerable include Killdeer and Wood Thrush, but all baby birds—from ducks to warblers—will be on the ground for a critical period of time.

2. Prevent birds from hitting your windows. As many as one billion birds die each year after colliding with glass in buildings. You can reduce this problem at your home by applying a variety of window treatments. For example, ABC BirdTape is a proven solution that is inexpensive and long-lasting. (See a short video here.) Birds most prone to fatal collisions at home windows or glass doors include Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Wood Thrush.

3. 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. For rodent control, seal cracks, remove food sources, and use snap and electric traps rather than rodenticides, which can poison raptors such as hawks and owls as well as young children. And be sure not to garden with neonicotinoid-coated seeds, or neonics, which are lethal to songbirds as well as to bees and other invertebrates. Learn more here.

4. Buy organic food and drink Smithsonian-certified Bird Friendly Coffee. Going organic helps to reduce pesticide use on farms and increases the market for produce grown without the use of pesticides, which can be toxic to birds and other animals, and will help to reduce the use of these hazardous chemicals in the U.S. and overseas. Shade coffee farms have been shown to provide far superior habitat for birds than coffee grown in open sun. Buying coffee that is certified Bird Friendly is one of the easiest ways to help migratory birds.

5. Create backyard habitat using native plants. When you garden with plants that evolved in your local habitat, you supply native insects and their larvae with food, which in turn are an irreplaceable food source provided by birds to their nestlings. Yards both large and small can benefit birds and other wildlife. Create a diverse landscape by planting native grasses, flowers, and shrubs that attract birds. You will be rewarded by their beauty and song, and will have fewer insect pests as a result. Read more here.

6. Reduce your carbon footprint. While all forms of energy use impact birds, small individual actions can add up and make a difference. Use a hand-pushed or electric lawnmower, carpool, and use low-energy bulbs and Energy Star appliances. Less energy used means less habitat destroyed for energy production.

7. Donate old bird-watching equipment. Binoculars or spotting scopes will be appreciated by local bird watching groups—they can get them to schools or biologists in other countries who may not have the resources they need. More people studying birds means more voices for bird conservation!

8. Keep bird feeders and bird baths clean. If you feed the birds, make sure you aren’t accidentally allowing the spread of disease. Disinfect feeders and bird baths, and change water regularly or use a drip system to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.

9. Support bird-friendly legislation. U.S. policy makers frequently make decisions that affect birds. For example, decisions are now being made that will impact the survival of the imperiled Greater Sage-Grouse. By raising your voice, you can help to influence the outcome for birds on this and other important issues.

10. Join two bird conservation groups—a local one and American Bird Conservancy. Your support will provide needed dollars for bird conservation, enabling you to help achieve more than is possible through individual efforts. Membership also enables you to become more informed and involved in the issues you’re concerned about.

“Protecting and helping birds is not only the right thing to do,” said Fenwick. “It is also good for the economy and the future of our environment. Birds are invaluable as controllers of insect pests, as pollinators of crops, and as dispersers of native plant seeds. They also generate tremendous economic revenues through the pastimes of bird feeding and bird watching.”

A federal government study reports that about 20 percent of the U.S. population—47 million people—participates in bird watching. About 30 percent of all people over 55 enjoy this pursuit. About 40 percent of birders (18 million people) actually travel to see birds and spend about $41 billion annually in pursuit of their pastime. The top five birdwatching states by percentage of total population are: Vermont (39%), Wisconsin (33%), West Virginia (33%), Wyoming (31%), and Alaska (30%). The states with the greatest raw number of birders are: California (4.9 million), New York (3.3 million), Florida (3.0 million), Pennsylvania (2.7 million), and Texas (2.3 million).



Pair Of New Boating Regulations Effective July 1

Two new laws concerning recreational boating will become effective July 1 that are hoped to help increase safety on Tennessee waters. As of July 1, a requirement similar to the “Move Over” law on land will go into effect. As written, the new law will require boaters to slow to no wake speed within 100 feet of a law enforcement vessel that is displaying flashing blue lights. ... (click for more)

Location Changed For Green Thumb Garden Club Of Ooltewah June 25 Meeting

The Green Thumb Garden Club of Ooltewah is featuring Roland and Casandra Cansler MD, consulting rosarians and members of the TriState Rose Society and American Rose Society. They will speak on growing beautiful roses.  The meeting will be held Monday, June 25, 7 p.m. at the Morning Pointe Assisted Living of Collegedale, 9450 Leyland Dr. Following the presentation ... (click for more)

Funeral Service For John P. Franklin Will Be Friday; Public Memorial Service Is Thursday Night

Funeral services will be Friday for John P. Franklin, Chattanooga's first elected black official in the post Jim Crow era. Mr. Franklin died Thursday at the age of 96. He will lie in state in the chapel of John P. Franklin Funeral Home from noon until 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday,. Public viewing will resume at 11 a.m. on Thursday at Olivet Baptist Church, and a ... (click for more)

Woman, 20, Killed While Trying To Cross Highway 153 Early Sunday Morning

A woman, 20, was killed early Sunday morning while trying to cross Highway 153. The victim was identified as Ansleigh Kaylyn Harrison. At approximately 1:28 a.m. , Chattanooga Police officers responded to a pedestrian struck at 5256 Highway 153. A Toyota Sequoia driven by 31-year-old Asher Powers was traveling north on Highway 153 in the inside lane. The pedestrian ... (click for more)

John Porter Franklin, Sr.: A Community Gem

In 2016, It was   my honor to have been chosen to recognize African American History Month at the February HCDE board meeting.   Throughout my life, I’ve been taught and exposed to African American history both nationally and locally. In reflecting on what to share, I thought about all that was going on in our community and more importantly in our educational community ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: What’s 28% Of 2,500?

There is a strong likelihood, this based on new data obtained from the Hamilton County Department of Education, that only 700 of this year’s approximately 2,500 high school graduates can tell you what 28 percent of 2,500 is. The 2018 test scores, used to determine what percentage of students in public schools are “scoring on track,” averaged 28.4 percent in our 32 middle and high ... (click for more)