Three Easy Ways to Make a Difference for Birds

by Heather Kallevig

@HeatherKallevig

@HeatherKallevig

Birds are everywhere right? It may seem that way, but the truth is, though you may see and hear plenty of birds in your local neighborhood – the avian species are facing troubled times. Due to habitat loss, climate change, pollution, and human encroachment – many birds are in danger of serious population decline. To combat these challenges, we can all offer our support and lend a hand for birds.

Depending on your current situation, there are many different things you can do to help our feathered friends. Below are a few options to choose from, some require time, some space, and others are financial support. Choosing even just one of these contributions can make a difference and create a brighter future for birds.

Part 1: Rethink your Backyard

Cities can be a dangerous place for birds. Glass windows, vehicles, prowling predators, are only a few of the threats to contend with. With a few small changes, we can make the city landscape a more inviting and safe place.

When you step into your backyard, what do you see? What would be most helpful for birds? Do you have plants and trees with lots of foliage? Is there a bird feeder? Maybe some bird houses? How about a water source? These are all valuable and easy things you can provide to create an ideal birding habitat.

Choose a tree, shrub, or section of grass you don’t mind becoming a tad overgrown, and let it bush out. This is a great habitat for birds to hide, rest, or even build a nest. If you have grass clippings or branches from your gardening, leave them in areas of the yard for nest building in the spring. Bird feeders offer valuable food sources. Bird boxes and houses provide a home or shelter. One thing we often forget is the dire need for a water source, especially in dry climates. If you don’t have a birdbath, a pie pan full of water works just as well. Just make sure you clean it regularly so you’re not harboring parasites or other illnesses that can negatively impact the birds you’re trying to help.

Finally, consider the potential threats in your yard. Do you have a cat? Using a belled collar gives birds fair warning when a hungry feline is on the prowl. If your house has many large windows, consider using bird stickers and other signals to help birds realize they cannot fly through. Addressing these two major threats can make a big difference for birds in your area.

Part 2: Donate to a Birding Organization

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@HeatherKallevig

There is a plethora of organizations committed to the protection of birds, habitat, and conservation. Many of these programs, by addressing the needs of birds, target many other issues threatening our planet. Conservation and habitat protection are key for birds, but the protection of these swaths of land also create new areas, safe from pollution, development, and industry. These conservation efforts help stem the tide of climate change and protect natural regions for our children and their children.

There are many options for donating. You can become a one-time donor, contributing only when it’s financially feasible, or you can choose to become a regular donor, with a scheduled gift. You may choose to contribute to only one organization, or you may prefer to share the love. Another choice to consider is whether you prefer to support local, national, or international organizations. Research local organizations in your area.

Below are a few popular national and international organizations to consider.

Bird Specific Organizations:

The American Birding Association
The Audubon Society
Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Conservation and Wildlife Organizations:

National Wildlife Federation
The Nature Conservancy
World Wildlife Fund

Part 3: Participate in Citizen Science

Several prominent birding groups depend on the contribution of people just like you to help them track the health and populations of birds. They use nest observation cameras, birding festivals, and organized counting events where supporters are encouraged to record and share their findings.

You may have heard of a Big Year or seen the 2012 movie. This is a major, yearlong event for dedicated birding enthusiasts. Spending an entire year crossing the continent counting birds is not a realistic option for most people. Fortunately, you do have ways to participate. This weekend, May 9th, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Audubon Society, and the American Birding Association are teaming up to sponsor a Global Big Day. Participants take to the woods, streets, fields, and waters to count as many different birds as possible in a single day. These numbers are then reported to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for compilation and study. Many participants also contribute valued donations to the cause. You don’t need to be a birding expert to participate – even the recording of two birds in a day is helpful. By recruiting friends or family, you improve your odds of seeing more birds and make a fun, social event of the day. You will learn something new, get some exercise, and spend your Saturday outside.

Help the Birds

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@HeatherKallevig

Imagine a city where every yard is a bird sanctuary, members contribute to birding protection and conservation efforts through donations, and family and friends participate in citizen research, tracking current bird populations and habits. This is an example of a brighter future for the people, the birds, and the land. Each member who takes a step toward avian protection is giving our winged friends one more chance to flourish for future generations.

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