Happy Earth Day to everyone on the planet! Sadly, birds are in trouble. You see pigeons, geese and sparrows everywhere, but those birds have adapted to urban habitats. A great many birds, such as meadowlarks and orioles, require natural habitats. They are in danger from habitat destruction and the ever expanding range of humans. Studies by the National Audubon Society show that over 25 percent of American bird species are in serious decline. Earth Day is a great day to contemplate how you can help save our birds. Here are 10 easy things that you can do around the house to conserve our avian friends:
- Do you have a lawn? Shrink your lawn and go organic. Lawn chemicals kill about 7 million birds each year. Manage your lawn organically and reduce it by 25 percent in favor of plants to provide seeds and a nesting place for birds.
- Keep your cats inside. Estimates for the numbers of birds killed per year by household cats and stray cats in the U.S. range into the hundreds of millions. Cats kill many more birds than wind turbines.
- Wake up to bird-friendly coffee. Coffee grown in the shade of tree canopies, rather than on land cleared of other vegation, provides a habitat for many migratory birds such as warblers, hummingbirds and tanagers.
- Fill your yard with native plants to aid birds that are adapted to eating the seeds and berries of native plants.
- Recycle plastic six-pack rings, plastic bags and aluminum cans. Many birds die on landfills after they get stuck in plastic rings, cut themselves on metal cans or get trapped in plastic bags. By recycling plastic you prevent them from ending up on the landfill and killing innocent birds.
- Eat less meat. The production of beef, pork and poultry meat have a huge impact on the environment due to habitat destruction to provide more farmland for grazing cattle. It requires far more acres to produce the same number of calories of meat than of vegetables and grains. In addition, farms that are overcrowded with animals become hotbeds for diseases like bird flu.
- Leave a good part of your yard natural with bushes and ground cover. The more diverse your yard, the greater variety of birds and small mammals you will attract. Also, keep dead trees in your yard. Hundreds of species of birds and animals live in dead trees and feed on the insects there. Top off, rather than chop down, dead trees.
- Many birds die each year from crashing into windows. More birds are killed each year from striking windows than from any other direct cause of death, and the problem is growing as window sizes increase and houses get larger. Use window decals / stickers or cover your windows with blinds, awnings or shutters to minimize the reflection of the sky.
- Have a bird bath year-round. Birds require bathing to keep their feathers clean and flexible and to maintain healthy plumage. Bird baths also provide a safe place for wild birds to bathe and it is a reliable source of clean drinking water.
- Support your local bird conservation program and forest preserves. Also, educate yourself and your friends and family about birds and the importance of conservation. Go outside and take your family birding.
For more ways on helping birds check out the book 101 Ways to Help Birds (available on Amazon) by Laura Erickson. Happy Earth Day.