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Center for


Environment & Society

Conservation

How can you help the birds?

Major threats to birds

  • Loss of Habitat: This comes in many forms.  We may think of clearing a wood lot to build a residential neighborhood, but it can also be draining a marsh for farm land or making a wood lot into such a small lot that it’s not big enough to support what used to live there.  Farmland could be enough to support some species and converting it to a Wal-Mart loses habitat.  On a smaller scale, it can be the cutting down of a single tree where a family of woodpeckers nested.  Sea level rise also consumes low lying islands and coastal areas.
  • Predators-outdoor cats are estimated to kill 2.4 billion birds annually in the Lower 48 states.  KEEP CATS INSIDE.
  • Collisions- Birds often die by striking inanimate objects most often buildings (especially glass!), cars and towers or wires.  Birds did not evolve to avoid these objects.  A bird has no chance against a speeding sedan.  Installing wind turbines can alter habitat to render it worse for birds. 
  • Chemicals- DDT caused a weakening of egg shells in large birds of prey such as Osprey and Bald Eagles.
  • Catastrophic events- Small populations are especially at risk.  If there are only a few populations of a bird, they are in grave danger of extreme weather events.
  • Unknowns-  It took scientists years to determine that DDT was behind the alarming decrease in the Bald Eagle populations.  Some current declines could be because of things we have yet to understand.

How can you help?

  • Keep cats inside.
  • Turn off lights in cities during peak migration.
  • Alter the blinking patterns/colors on towers.
  • Minimize the amount of big windows in buildings.
  • Make your yard or area into a bird friendly place
  • Provide appropriate food for birds
  • Monitor through citizen science (eBird, NestWatch, NWF certified habitat, Christmas Bird Count)
  • Educate yourself and others about the issues.
  • Reduce waste and recycle (trash uses resources and space).