As part of #BringBirdsBack, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Smithsonian suggest these
Seven Simple Actions to Help Birds
- Make Windows Safer, Day and Night. The challenge: Up to 1 billion birds are estimated to die each year after hitting windows in the United States and Canada. - American Bird Conservancy explores products that can help.
- Keep Cats Indoors. The challenge: Cats are estimated to kill more than 2.4 billion birds annually in the U.S. This is the No. 1 human-caused reason for the loss of birds, aside from habitat loss. ABC offers ideas about enriching the life of your indoor cat.
- Reduce Lawn, Plant Natives. The challenge: Birds have fewer places to safely rest during migration and to raise their young; More than 10 million acres of land in the United States was converted to developed land from 1982 to 1997. Audubon's Native Plant Database can help you find the perfect native plants for your yard.
- Avoid Pesticides and Herbicides. The challenge: More than 1 billion pounds of pesticides are applied in the U.S. each year. The nation’s most widely used insecticides, called neonicotinoids or “neonics,” are lethal to birds and to the insects that birds eat. Common weed-killers used around homes, such as 2,4-D and glyphosate (marketed as Round-Up) can be toxic to wildlife, and glyphosate has been declared a probable human carcinogen.
- Drink Coffee That's Good for Birds. The challenge: Three-quarters of the world’s coffee farms grow their plants in the sun, destroying forests that birds and other wildlife need for food and shelter. Sun-grown coffee also often requires using environmentally harmful pesticides and fertilizers. On the other hand, shade-grown coffee preserves a forest canopy that helps migratory birds survive the winter. Smithsonian's National Zoo can help you learn where to purchase shade-grown coffee.
- Protect Our Planet from Plastic. The challenge: It’s estimated that 4,900 million metric tons of plastic have accumulated in landfills and in our environment worldwide, polluting our oceans and harming wildlife such as seabirds, whales and turtles that mistakenly eat plastic or become entangled in it. Give up single-use plastics, buy in bulk, think refillable, etc.
- Watch Birds, and Share What You See. The challenge: The world’s most abundant bird, the Passenger Pigeon, went extinct, and people didn’t realize how quickly it was vanishing until it was too late. Monitoring birds is essential to help protect them, but tracking the health of the world’s 10,000 bird species is an immense challenge. Sign up for the Great Backyard Bird Count every February and Project FeederWatch through the winter. Report banded birds that you find, alive or dead. Add your sightings to eBird.
- Determine your carbon footprint and take steps to reduce it. Visit the Carbon Footprint Calculator.
- Conserve energy and water: Conserving energy will save you money and reduce the carbon footprint of your home, and thus its impact on climate change. Does this really affect birds? You bet. Over the past 40 years, the ranges of 60% of the birds that winter in North America have shifted 35 miles north as temperatures have warmed. It may not sound like a lot, but as time goes on, some species will not be able to adapt to shifting ecosystems. And some birds, such as ptarmigans and other alpine birds that can only go “up” to escape warming temperatures, have nowhere else to move.
- Use less electricity: Switch all the lights you can to LED bulbs.
- Use less water: Turn off the faucet when showering and brushing your teeth. Run only full laundry and dishwashing loads.
- Use less energy: Turn your heat down and your air conditioner up. Insulate, weather-proof, and caulk door and window frames.
- Use less paper. Print on the back side of office paper. Think before you print. Use the “Print Preview” function on your computer to make sure you print only once.
- Drive less. Walk. Ride a bike. Take the bus. Downsize your vehicle or consider buying a fuel-efficient vehicle.
- Plant a vegetable garden. Then share food and trade seeds with neighbors.
- Compost food waste to improve soil quality in your backyard and reduce the amount of trash being sent to the landfill.
- Do you have a new addition to your family? Consider using cloth diapers.
- Downsize! Next time you move, consider a smaller home, or one that uses less energy and perhaps makes use of solar power.
Improve Habitat for Birds in Your Back Yard:
Gardening for Life, with Russell Link, Part I and Part II
Building birdhouses and nestboxes
Create a snag for birds & other wildlife
Don't forget water! Birds need water in summer -- and in winter.