With many bird populations in decline, the birds need your help! Habitat loss and degradation, disease, and collisions with man-made structures are some of the main factors. By following these six steps, you can turn your yard into a sanctuary for the birds.
- Put out the welcome mat. Landscaping with native plants that provide natural food sources, shelter from the elements and predators, and nesting sites are all great ways to make your property a welcoming habitat for the birds. Then add feeders, nest boxes, and clean water to round things out.
- Prepare a proper menu. Providing the appropriate foods year round will attract more birds to your yard and help ensure that they have a safe and nutritious diet. Refill feeders regularly with food appropriate for the birds in your area.
- Keep the feeding areas clean. Clean your feeders and feeding areas at least once a month to help reduce the possibility of disease transmission. Plastic and metal feeders can go in the dishwasher. For dirtier feeders, wash with a 1-10 solution of bleach and warm water. Scrub birdbaths with a brush and replace water every three to five days to keep mosquitoes out. Keep seed and foods dry; discard food that smells musty, is wet, or looks moldy. Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned every three to five days, or every other day in hot weather. Finally, moving feeders periodically helps prevent the buildup of waste on the ground.
- Birds and chemicals don't mix. Many pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides are toxic to birds so avoid using these near areas where birds feed, bathe, or nest. Always follow directions provided by chemical manufacturers.
- Keep the cats away! The best solution is to keep cats indoors, but if cats are around, plan to install feeders out of the reach of cats, or install barriers to keep cats out of feeder areas.
- Reduce window collisions. Collisions with glass windows kill millions of wild birds every year. Depending on their size and location, some windows reflect the sky or vegetation and birds are fooled into thinking they can fly through them. To properly address this, first identify windows that cause collisions (typically larger, reflective windows, those near the ground, or those that look through the house), then attach decorative decals or other decorations to the outside of the glass to reduce reflections.