Help Protect Birds
It is estimated that between 100 and 350 million birds die each year in Canada due to cats, the majority being feral. Cats are natural born predators, and they love the thrill of the hunt. Even if your cat is well fed, they will still hunt and kill songbirds for the fun of it.
You can help by:
- Keeping your cats indoors – Being indoors keeps your cat safe from getting attacked or run over by vehicles, and keeps our birds safe.
- Spay or neuter your cat – A fixed cat will not be able to produce unwanted, unplanned kittens. By having your pets fixed, you are helping to not add more cats to feral or homeless populations.
- Do not feed feral cats – Feeding feral cats only adds to the issue with their overpopulation and the number of birds they kill.
- Trap/rescue feral cats – If you see a feral cat around your neighbourhood, set a live trap, try to catch it and bring it to an animal rescue shelter. Not only are you helping that cat, but you are helping to reduce the feral population.
- Put your cat on a leash – You can buy cat harnesses at any pet store. By putting your cat on a leash that is staked outside, you are still allowing your pet to enjoy the outdoors, but are limiting their ability to roam and hunt songbirds successfully.
- Make your cat wear a cat bib – Cat bibs are great in that they gently interfere with a cat’s precise timing and coordination that they need to successfully catch a bird. The bib does not interfere with your cat’s overall mobility and your cat can still run, jump, and climb to its heart’s content, it just won’t be able to catch birds! As well, cat bibs are easy to make at home.
Cat Bibs - https://catgoods.com/
- Install cat proof fencing – There are fence installations you can attach to your preexisting fence that will make your fence cat proof and keep your cat inside your back yard. That way your cat is safe and is unable to hunt birds freely around the neighbourhood. You can purchase Oscillot which is extremely effective or if you rather your own DIY project, check out some videos online;
Cat Proof Installation - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAC_JTdsTCw,
DIY Cat Fence - http://www.instructables.com/id/Catproof-Your-Yard/
Oscillot - https://oscillot.com.au/
- If you have a cat in your yard, don’t attract birds – Don’t put up bird feeders if you own a cat as the feeder will lure birds to your cat who will then stalk and kill them. Young birds and those that have just returned from migration are especially vulnerable.
Window Strikes & Bird Feeder Placement
It is estimated that between 16 and 42 million birds die each year in Canada due to window strikes. Birds have a difficult time seeing glass and may fly towards it if startled, or if they think they see a way through. As well, even if a bird hits a window and then flies away, it is estimated that up to 50% of them later die from their injuries.
You can help by:
- Put decals on your windows – There are a wide variety of decals and silhouettes you can put on windows to help make them more visible to birds. You can find these at any bird store or online. You can make your own as well. Be sure to put several decals on each window, using just one or two will not prevent birds striking the glass.
- Put artwork on your windows – If you do not like the idea of decals, why not hang some painted CDs, stain glass, or even your kids artwork up on the windows. This will helps to make them more visible to birds
- Use UV markers on your windows – You can buy UV markers to mark up your windows to make them visible to birds while remaining invisible to the human eye.
- Placement of your bird feeder – Either place your birdfeeder 30 feet or more away from your window, or place it within 2-3 feet of your window. Having your feeder within 2-3 feet reduces the speed a bird can achieve before hitting the window therefore making it safer.
- Use garden mesh on the outside of your windows – This makes your windows visible to the birds while not obscuring your view when looking out. The wide, 10cm or 4inch mesh works great!
- Report bird strikes – The times you unfortunately do have a bird strike your window, you can report it. The University of Alberta’s Birds and Windows Project wants your data on the number of birds hitting your windows. Fill out their quick survey and help them with their research.
Birds and Windows Project: http://birdswindows.biology.ualberta.ca/
Pesticides & Insecticides
Pesticides and insecticides help keep insects off your garden plants, but kill and poison the insects that birds eat. This causes a reduction in the food supply of birds and additionally the birds eat the poisoned insects and then they too become ill or die.
You can help by:
- Using plants that help repel insects instead – By doing some research and strategic planting, you can greatly reduce the amount of insecticides needed to keep your garden healthy and strong. For example: Dill helps repel aphids, squash bugs, spider mites, cabbage loopers and tomato hornworms. Fennel repels aphis, slugs and snails. And there are many more plants out there.
12 Plants That Repel Unwanted Insects - https://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/12-plants-that-repel-unwanted-insects
10 Bug Repelling Plants - http://helloglow.co/10-bug-repelling-plants-your-backyard-needs/
- Using a greener, environmentally friendly, insecticide – If you have to use insecticides, try finding the greenest, most environmentally friendly one possible that uses natural products. That way you are at least reducing the amount of harmful chemicals being put into our ecosystems.
10 Homemade Organic Pesticides - https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/organic-pesticides/
5 Environment-Friendly Natural Pesticides - http://pestcontroloptions.com/natural-garden-pest-control/5-environmentally-friendly-natural-pesticides
- Pick larger pests from your plants- Slugs, caterpillars and other pests can be picked from plants without the use of insecticides.
Birds are losing habitat everywhere they go. On their breeding grounds in the Boreal Forest, we are cutting down trees for timber and paper. On their wintering grounds in Central and South America, the rainforest is being slashed and burned at an alarming rate.
You can help by:
- Supporting forest reclamation sites – Help replant an area that was once used for something else. Whether it is through donations, advertising or planting the trees yourself, every bit helps!
Edmonton & Area Land Trust: https://www.ealt.ca/
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – By reducing the amount of new wood and paper products that you use, you are helping save more trees and more bird habitat. Here’s a place you can go to find reused building material;
Architectural Clearinghouse: http://achouse.ca/
- Buying recycled writing and toilet paper – Products containing post-consumer fiber, aka recycle fibers, reduces the amount of new material we have to harvest from our forests.
- Buying wood products that have Forest Management Certification - Visit their website for more information: http://certificationcanada.org/en/home
- Reduce your lawn, plant some shrubs - Reduce the amount of lawn in your yard and plant native shrubs and plants that provide cover and food for our birds.
- Planting trees – Volunteer to plant trees in your surrounding city, town, or farm. This helps provide new habitat for future bird generations to enjoy and use.
- Buying Shade Grown Coffee - Birds can occupy the forest canopy while coffee is grown beneath it. Look for coffee that states it is grown in the shade or coffee that is Rainforest Alliance certified.
Donate Your Time and Money
- Many non-profit groups work tirelessly to conserve birds and their habitats. Donate your time and money to help groups be more effective and accomplish more.
Beaverhill Bird Observatory – www.beaverhillbirds.com
Bird Studies Canada – http://www.birdscanada.org/
Nature Alberta - http://naturealberta.ca/
Nature Canada - http://naturecanada.ca/
World Wildlife Fund - https://www.worldwildlife.org/
Ducks Unlimited - http://www.ducks.org/
Alberta Conservation Association - http://www.ab-conservation.com/
- If you encounter an injured bird, carefully place it in a dark box, make sure it has breathing holes and take it to a rehabilitation society who will care for it until it is ready to be released. If you are unable to transport the bird right away, keep the box somewhere dark and quiet until transportation can be arranged. These societies also need volunteer help and funds.
Alberta Birds of Prey Centre: http://www.burrowingowl.com/visit/
Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation: http://www.aiwc.ca/
Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society: http://calgarywildlife.org/
Cochrane Ecological Institute: http://www.ceinst.org/
Medicine River Wildlife Centre: http://www.medicineriverwildlifecentre.ca/
Strathcona Raptor Shelter:http://www.raptorshelter.org/
Wild North - https://wildnorth.ca/
Source for more Information:
Bird conservation strategy for region 5: Northern Pacific rainforest, chapter 8. (2017, June 08). Retrieved November 10, 2017, from https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/migratory-bird-conservation/publications/strategy-region-5-pacific-rainforest/chapter-8.html
Disclaimer: The above information and web links are provided for the reader’s benefit. BBO does not endorse any particular commercial product, nor have we independently tested the techniques that are discussed above. We hope the reader will conduct their own reading to improve their awareness and take action to help bird conservation.