Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Easy Ways That You Can Help Birds This Spring

This information can also be found in the latest issue of our newsletters which will arrive in your mailboxes and email in-boxes very soon if you are on our subscription list. This information is so important that I thought I would post it for our blog readers to see as well.

Spring is an important time in the lives of birds because many are returning from their migrations to build nests and raise their young. As thoughtful people, we can do a few pretty simple things to help them out.

Prevent birds from striking your windows. As many as one billion birds die each year by flying into window glass because they simply cannot see it. An amazing new product called BirdTape helps the birds to see the window while still allowing you to look out from the inside. The price for this wonderful tape ranges from $10.95 to $14.95 per roll; a small price to pay to save the lives of the birds in your neighborhood. You can find this life-saving tape through the American Bird Conservancy at They provide you with instructions and application patterns so you can get the best results from the tape. 

Strips of BirdTape are being applied to a large picture window. This tape makes the window noticeable to a bird while still allowing you an easy view to the outside. (Photo credit: American Bird Conservancy)

Keep your pets safe and under control.
Cats and dogs can be extremely dangerous for nesting adults and baby birds. Cats alone kill 39 million birds annually here in Wisconsin. Pets should not be allowed to run free because they can cause injury to wildlife and become injured themselves. Poisons, vehicles, and other predators are just a few of the things that could harm or kill your pets. We have seen many patients already this year here at REGI who are suffering from dog and cat bites. If the birds survive the initial harm, the infections caused by the bacteria from the mouth of the dog or cat can lead to death.

This little fledgling Blue Jay was a past patient of ours from a couple summers ago. He was brought in after suffering from dog bites. He had multiple punctures and a broken wing which is why his wings were taped. He was lucky because he was brought for help right away and received antibiotics to combat the infection caused by the bacteria from the dog's mouth. He is wild and free now, but his pain could have been avoided if the landowner had controlled their pet. 

Don’t cut down trees in the spring.
It may be tempting to spruce up your yard in the spring by removing trees or pruning limbs, but young animals may be nesting in and on that tree. Birds are protected through the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and it is illegal to take, possess or needlessly destroy the nest or eggs of any bird. It is also better for the trees to prune in late winter before spring growth and hopefully before birds start nesting.

Try natural landscaping techniques. Manicured lawns, while attractive to some people, are basically sterile environments for wildlife. Not only is there no food or shelter for wildlife, but the toxic substances used to control pests and weeds can cause illness and death in birds and other animals, including your beloved pets.
When landscaping your yard, consider including the following aspects:
Food—provide a variety of native plants which produce nectar, nuts, and edible berries.
Water—incorporate bird baths, pools or ponds into your landscape making sure to replace standing water every few days to avoid mosquito activity.
Cover—plant evergreens and shrubs which provide shelter all year long. Leave dead trees standing, provide hollow logs, and install bird houses which give cavity nesters a place to raise their young.

Growing plants in your yard which produce food can attract beautiful wildlife for you to enjoy watching. The lovely female Ruby-throated Hummingbird in this photo is a frequent visitor the the honeysuckle bush in my parent's yard thanks to the delicious nectar it produces in its delicate trumpet flowers.
Installing bird houses on your property is a wonderful way to encourage cavity nesters, like these tree swallows, to raise their young in your yard. These birds will subsequently help to control the insect populations in the surrounding areas by feeding the bugs to their nestlings. Nesting birds are also wonderful to watch (from afar to avoid frightening them) and can be a fun way to educate your young ones about family and the lives of birds. 

If you can safely allow dead trees, called snags, to remain standing on your property, many types of wildlife will make good use out of those trees. Snags are essential for woodpeckers who eat the insect larvae found in the wood and cavity nesters who raise their young inside the natural holes or the ones created by the woodpeckers. Saw-whet Owls, like the one above, are cavity nesters which may raise their families in the dead trees on your property.

If you find birds that need help this spring, please give us a call on our rehabilitation line (715) 623-4015.

Thanks everyone! Have a happy spring!

Karissa Mohr
Wildlife Educator

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